Take the 2-minute tour ×
Home Improvement Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for contractors and serious DIYers. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I live in an old 50 + year old house and it still has the original circuit breakers. I am trying to search for one that died, but don't know the model or even if they make these anymore. If any electricians out there can help me out, I would greatly appreciate it.

I haven't removed it (Kinda' scared to do so and get shocked), but here's a pic. enter image description here enter image description here

Here's more pics on the Fuse Box.

share|improve this question
4  
With something that old, and burnt, I'd call an electrician. –  Steven Nov 15 '12 at 2:38
1  
You also have to ask serious questions as to what caused that one circuit breaker to become so severely overheated like this one obviously was. The manner with which the plastic of the breaker appears to point to very high temperature operation over a long period of time. Such heat build up is likely to have also done some damage to the buss bar insulators under the breakers, cooked the insulation on adjacent wires and connected wires, and possibly even to the next door circuit breaker. I believe the evidence calls for the need of a complete safety inspection by a qualified professional. –  Michael Karas Nov 15 '12 at 4:42
2  
I can pretty much guarantee that by the time you are finished, the whole panel will be replaced. –  Brad Gilbert Nov 15 '12 at 8:25
4  
On closer inspection of the images, the breakers are marked as CU-AL which means they are for aluminum wiring. Unless you know what you're doing, this is yet another reason to call an electrician. –  Steven Nov 15 '12 at 14:17
1  
Nothing is wrong with aluminium wiring, except when you treat it like copper. Everything it's connected to has to be rated as CO/ALR, including wire nuts. You also have to use anti-oxidant paste (eg, Noalox) on all stripped ends. All of the trouble with AL wiring comes from it expanding and contracting as it heats and cools, which can lead to arcing. In older homes, just like copper it can be over-loaded as they didn't build houses for all the electrical gadgets we have today, but AL is usually a size bigger (eg, 15A circuit is 12AWG AL, while normally 14AWG CO). -Former owner of house with AL –  gregmac Nov 15 '12 at 16:31
show 6 more comments

2 Answers

The answer is actually staring you in the face under all that paint: Electri-Center. These are, in theory, Seimens breakers. (I say in theory because the box looks like someone's taken a hacksaw to it, which means they may have replaced the guts with some other brand of hardware.) They should be available at Home Depot. Shut off the mains, remove the bad breaker, take it in to Home Depot and make sure that you match them. Alternately, take it to an electrical distributor and they'll be able to match it.

However, I would STRONGLY urge you to hire an electrician and have them evaluate the condition of the panel because of a few of the things that I see inside the box. First of all, there are wire 'colors' that mean specific things. What I'm seeing is a red wire and a green wire going into the hot side of some of these breakers. Red is 'meh' but not 'right'; it should only be used for the switch leg of a circuit but it's OK for it to be 'hot'. Green generally means ground and anyone working on the far end of that cable is going to get a surprise unless they're using a non-contact voltage sensor. There are distinct signs of hackery and/or overloading and/or age-induced overloading on this panel, and with that plus the aluminum wiring and the age of these breakers, I would be extremely leery of just replacing the breaker and assuming that it will be fine.

share|improve this answer
1  
Not only do red and green wires not belong connected to breakers, they are far too small to carry 30 amp current as copper, even less so if aluminum. Yikes! This is a good way to start a fire. +100 for electrician evaluating the whole panel. –  bcworkz Nov 16 '12 at 0:48
    
I didn't even catch that, bcworkz... thanks! I was too busy wincing at the rest of the panel. –  Karl Katzke Nov 16 '12 at 16:06
    
Is a 220v circuit an exception to the "no red in the panel" rule? –  The Evil Greebo Nov 19 '12 at 3:08
    
@TheEvilGreebo - Yeah. But that didn't look like a 220v circuit to me, especially not on 12 ga al. –  Karl Katzke Nov 20 '12 at 17:30
1  
Ick ick ick. Get a professional in there: one skilled in old work. Also note the complete lack of proper box entry on the green-yet-hot line. I love repairing old stuff: this does not qualify. Trash it. –  Bryce Jan 20 at 5:48
show 2 more comments

While I think you'll be smart to hire an electrician and consider replacing the whole panel...

Circuit breaker boxes vary in style. You have to buy the correct replacement breaker for your specific box. To determine what you need, examine the box itself. Somewhere on the box will be the name of the manufacturer.

Tip: "Square D" is not it. (Personal experience talking) - Square D MAKES breakers to fit numerous types of boxes.

If you can't immediately find the name of your panel maker, go to this link: Online site for buying circuit breakers

They list a lot of manufacturers there - see if you can find yours.

Now again - because you yourself said you're scared to remove it - PLEASE DON'T. This is potentially deadly work you're considering and if you don't know what you're doing, this is NOT a project you should learn using the trial and error method!!!

Update - after looking at the extra pics - your breaker box is by "American". First manuf. on the list. The labels on some of your breakers indicate it.

share|improve this answer
    
Why do you suggest replacing the whole panel? I love new and shiny as much as any geek, but I know I sometimes replace when it's not needed. –  Jay Bazuzi Nov 17 '12 at 17:09
    
I'm not certain but I think your panel is discontinued and replacement parts will get harder to find. But you should consult with an electrician on that. –  The Evil Greebo Nov 18 '12 at 2:33
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.