I have a main 100amp breaker panel. The two 30A breakers going to the dryer are getting around 125 degrees Fahrenheit when I tested them with a temperature sensor and about 3 or 4 adjacent breakers are getting warm. Is this just an indication of the breakers getting old? Or is it normal for a dryer breaker to get this hot?

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    Are the connections tight on the wires attaching to the breaker? (Be sure it is off; better yet be safer and turn off the main) . That is a common source of excess heat. Another is the breakers connection to the buss bar. The problem there is often caused by the wrong breaker for the panel. Sometimes another companies breaker physically fit but was not designed for the panel and the result is high resistance or heat. – Tyson Jun 4 '17 at 18:15
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    I should have added, this must be fixed -- don't ignore it. It will cause breakers to trip and/or damage the buss in the panel. – Tyson Jun 4 '17 at 20:51
  • What make and model is this panel? – ThreePhaseEel Jun 4 '17 at 20:53
  • I 2nd what brand is the panel ? there are several out there that are known to have problems. Hot breakers are never good! many industrial facilities have annual thermal scans of there panels and other service equipment to stop fires before they happen. – Ed Beal Dec 12 '18 at 18:56

It is never common for any breaker to get extremely warm. Residential plug-in breakers are rated for 70C. So your measurement of 125F then it is at 52C and I am guessing you're just measuring the breaker and not opening the panel and checking the lugs. If your breaker is heating up over 158F you have already done damage to to your breaker or bus.

Breakers heat up for a number of reasons:

  • Loose connections - kill the power and check all connections make sure they are clean and tight at the breaker and the dryer plug.
  • Splices in the feeder - Check and make sure your feed is continuous from the breaker to the dryer if there are splices that are a transition and cannot be replaced see above.
  • Undersized wire - This may be because of voltage drop because of circuit length Not much to say except change out the wire.
  • Damaged breaker - I am pretty sure you have already damaged the breaker so you should just replace it as SOP.
  • Damaged bus in the panelboard - pull the breaker and make sure the bus is not discolored or there is arcing damage. If there is replace the panel.

One other thing, you didn't mention the age of the mobile home. Many of the older models were installed with Aluminum conductors. If this is so you may need to No-ox the connections or pigtail the trailer.

If all of this is too much for a DIY, you might need to get a professional on site.

Remember "there are old electricians and bold electricians but there are never any old, bold electricians" so kill any panel or circuit before performing any maintenance on the electrical system.

Hope this helps and be safe.

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