I'm changing my first breaker, a GFCI. There is no main Breaker in the panel. Everything was going fine until... I couldn't remove 2 of the 3 wires from the old breaker because there was no screw to loosen them.
Do I have to cut the wires and re-strip them, or can I stick an appropriate thin tool into their slots to open what I presume to be a spring-type catch? (I'd rather not shorten the wires.)
Old breaker is an ITE. Panel is a Gould (now Siemens). New breaker is a Siemens. Absolutely no main cutoff. I turned off all breakers before I started...safety first.
Old breaker: ITE GFCI, about 38 years old or less. I found no hole in which to insert a tool to release the load neutral, for which there is no set screw. In fact, 3 different wires go into the same port (hole) in the breaker, with no visible means of release:
the load neutral (white);
the panel neutral (white with black spiral stripe);
and a 2"-3" dark grey wire, which loops into another port in the breaker, also with no visible means of release (but which is not necessary to change the breaker, anyway).
The load line (purple) releases easily with a set screw.
I'm still stuck with the choice of either finding out how to release the load neutral or cutting and re-stripping that wire. How can I get that wire out???
While I had the breaker detached from the service buss, I could see that the tab from the buss to which the breaker snaps on, is not clean, but has what reminds me of a spark plug that needs to be cleaned with a wire brush or replaced.
Will the performance of a new breaker be compromised by this?
Can the tab be cleaned (sanded or wire-brushed)?
If it is cleaned, is there a potential for metallic dust particles or other particles from the cleaning to contaminate a clean panel, especially at breakers lower in the panel, and cause short circuits?
Is such a tab rendered unusable for accepting a breaker?
I noticed that the old breaker, which I've now removed and reattached twice, hasn't fit tightly in its slot since the first time I removed it. Is that more because of the breaker itself? (I keep it switched off, of course.)
re: "No Main": I was referring to no Main breaker in the panel or in a separate box between the POCO meter (which is on a wall at the front of the house) and the panel. There is/are NONE. I would have been happy to pull the meter off the wall. That would have certainly cut all power to the panel and the whole house, providing the ultimate in safety; but I was informed by the POCO that that would be illegal. The same goes for anything on the street-side of the meter.
I have become completely comfortable with the safety procedures I am using, including shutting off all the breakers before starting. (The parts I have to touch are a good distance from the service lines and lugs at the top of the panel.)
Edit: the load neutral does enter one of 3 plastic wire nuts, all on the right side of the panel. It looks like 3 wires come out of each wire nut. (Also, the only neutral buss I see is on the right side of the panel. If there is another, it is also on the right side, under the first and blocked from my view by wires.)
PRIORITY: How do I remove that load neutral with no screw set?