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Posts Tagged ‘Westinghouse Circuit Breaker’

Cutler Hammer Circuit Breaker Trip Indication

April 20th, 2012 1 comment

 

Cutler Hammer LD3450 Molded Case Circuit Breaker with Handle In Trip Position

Cutler Hammer LD3450 Molded Case Circuit Breaker with Handle In Trip Position

MIDWEST gets lots of phone calls from folks desperate for a little technical help. Sometimes they know very little about electrical equipment, circuit breakers for example. These are the most difficult calls because the caller may be putting themselves in harms way and not know it. We could tell them what to do, but unqualified people in the electrical power world need to hear “Hire an electrician, call a qualified person, call an electrical contractor.”  We might tell them to send us a picture of their circuit breaker and we can help them identify it, but get a qualified person to service or replace it. All too frequently the caller wants someone to tell them it is okay to just turn the breaker back on after it has tripped for no known reason. This can be very dangerous and against the code. For example, a maintenance mechanic called about a Cutler Hammer 450 amp molded case circuit breaker. This was a Cutler Hammer Catalog Number LD3450 circuit breaker. The breaker had tripped and one area of lighting in their plant was off.  He was told to “find the problem and turn the breaker back on.” Maintenance mechanics tend to be very resourceful individuals. And that is precisely what makes them dangerous around electrical equipment. They can fix mechanical problems, but most are not qualified around the dangers of electrical problems. In this case he thought the Cutler Hammer breaker was broken because the handle was in the middle and he could not close the breaker. It would have been easy to tell him how to reset the breaker so it would close. He was not overly interested in our requirement to have a qualified person investigate why a 400 amp Cutler Hammer breaker tripped. A lot of power or fault current went somewhere. The recommendation would have been the same for a GE General Electric circuit breaker, or Square D, Siemens, or old Westinghouse circuit breaker.  If the trip handle is in the middle, it tripped for a serious reason.  A qualified person has to investigate why. You can not just throw the power back on. And if you do not know how to reset a Cutler Hammer Series C industrial circuit breaker, you are not qualified.

Arc Blast Damaged Westinghouse PC32000 Molded Case Circuit Breaker

December 29th, 2011 9 comments
Arc Damaged Westinghouse PC32000 Circuit Breaker

Arc Damaged Westinghouse PC32000 Circuit Breaker

If you want to see a good picture of a large circuit breaker that has been damaged by an arc blast, look at the pictures with this blog. The breaker was a Westinghouse PC32000 molded case circuit breaker. It was a 2000 amp circuit breaker that failed to interrupt a fault and blasted the inside of the breaker until it actually blew a hole through the side of the circuit breaker frame. If you look closely, you will see where a MIDWESTswitchgear service technician actually stuck a screwdriver through the hole. The close up picture shows the hole and shows the extensive arcing damage to the moveable arcing and main contacts. The phase barriers, arc chutes, pretty much the whole Westinghouse PC32000 circuit breaker, was arc blasted beyond repair. One picture shows the destroyed circuit breaker next to a MIDWEST inventory stock PC32000 circuit breaker. This is a tough Westinghouse molded case circuit breaker. It wouldn’t make any difference whether the breaker was Square D or GE General Electric. If the breaker contacts begin to open, but fail to interrupt the current, arc damage will quickly occur. If the breaker is trying to interrupt fault current, extensive arc damage occurs very fast and will quickly expand into a phase to phase fault with catastrophic destruction. The arcing fault may explode outside the case of the circuit breaker.  This is one of the reasons for wearing protective clothing and following safe work practices when operation circuit breakers. Bad things can happen very fast. Too fast for you to get out of the way.  We suggest being paranoid about safety when working around electrical power equipment.

Another View of a Arc Damanged Westinghouse PC32000 Circuit Breaker

Another View of a Arc Damanged Westinghouse PC32000 Circuit Breaker

Noisy Circuit Breaker is a Warning

August 12th, 2011 1 comment
HKD3400F Westinghouse 400 Amp Circuit Breakers For Sale at www.swgr.com

HKD3400F Westinghouse 400 Amp Circuit Breakers For Sale at www.swgr.com

A contractor called MIDWEST for a little free advice. His customer had a 400 amp molded case circuit breaker. This happened to be a 400 amp Westinghouse circuit breaker, but it could just as well have been Square D or General Electric. He was very worried because his customer’s 400 amp circuit breaker was rattling, making a terrible humming and rattling noise. He had never heard this before and didn’t know if the circuit breaker was going to blow up, fall apart or what. He said this was a very old breaker, 1960s. We recommended he measure the load on the feeder cables from the breaker, but to do this very safely. Measure the current at the load end of the feeder, if possible, not at the circuit breaker. It is not totally unusual for an old circuit breaker to rattle and hum away when the load is near or over the rating of the over current device. When the breaker’s internal over current device is picking up because of the load. It depends on the breaker. The noise might be an indication the over current device is picking up and may trip the circuit breaker if the load doesn’t drop down below pickup soon enough. Either way, it may be a good idea to replace the circuit breaker. Sometimes these breakers will nuisance trip at less than the pickup current level. If possible retrofit the old circuit breaker with a newer replacement model. Sometimes the rattling is from the metal arc dividers in the circuit breaker arc chutes. Either way, it is not a noise you want to hear. Check the load. If that is not the problem, change the circuit breaker. Safely.

How Do You Test a Circuit Breaker with Ground Fault Protection

June 2nd, 2011 2 comments

Over the years MIDWEST has been asked many times how we test circuit breakers that have ground fault protection. High current test sets inject single phase current through one pole, ie phase, of the circuit breaker and the test is timed to see if the breaker trips open within the manufacturer’s specified time, based on the TCC, time current curve.  Whether a GE General Electric circuit breaker, or Cutler Hammer or Square D circuit breaker, molded case circuit breaker or air circuit breaker, the same theory applies to the test procedure. Some electronic overcurrent devices on circuit breakers have a feature allowing you to turn off or defect the ground fault protective function. The manufacturer’s specification sheets should explain this. But, if there is no way to turn off the ground fault protective function on a Westinghouse circuit breaker, for example, a specific test procedure must be followed or the circuit breaker will trip open on ground fault function long before you can put enough current through the breaker to properly test the long time or short time function. Maybe the ground fault pickup range is 100 to 1200 amps and the time delay range is 0.1 to 1.0 seconds.  But your 1600 amp Siemens breaker should be long time tested at 300% or 4800 amps and it will take the breaker 22 seconds to trip at that current level. The procedure is to inject current through one phase, current transformer, and then connect the test set up such that the current returns through a second phase, current transformer, in the opposite direction. The currents will cancel out such that the ground fault pickup sees zero current.  Be sure to test in all three possible combinations. Then each phase is tested for ground fault pickup and delay by just injecting current through that phase. These tests are more time consuming for many molded case circuit breakers.  Always check the manufacturer’s literature if you are not sure how to test a specific circuit breaker. The test requirements may differ between a Federal Pacific circuit breaker and a Westinghouse circuit breaker, for example. But they may also differ between types of circuit breakers by the same manufacturer.  And, of course, always be safe.