I have 4 dead circuits which were intermittent off/on at first- now dead. The 20 amp dual tandem breakers are across from each other in the breaker box. The breakers/circuits above and below the affected breakers are live and functioning properly.

There was enough voltage earlier to energize the digital temperature readout on an LG window unit, but turning on a light killed the display.There was also a faint odor of something burning, resembling burnt newspaper. Box and breakers are cutler/hammer.

I'm about to pull the guilty breakers and replace them and check the BUS.

  • Consider swapping one of the "bad" breakers with a known good one (of the same capacity); this might rule out the breakers themselves being the problem (which is suggested by two adjacent breakers dying). – Daniel Griscom Apr 27 '16 at 18:18
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    Pull the breakers and look at the bus contacts. Could be that the breakers weren't making a good connection, and burnt up the contacts. – Tester101 Apr 27 '16 at 18:19
  • When you said Cutler / Hammer I just nodded my head. They are notoriously of lower quality but they are cheap. – ArchonOSX Apr 27 '16 at 22:33
  • Is this panel type CH or type BR? – ThreePhaseEel Apr 27 '16 at 23:50
  • @ArchonOSX Do you mean the CH type or the BR type? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Apr 28 '16 at 1:42

If all the breakers on every other row go out, you lost one of your phases. That's not as bad as losing a neutral, in which case each 120V leg can go as high as 240V, blowing stuff up and starting fires. All that to say, if it proves to be a wire connection problem, check your neutral too!

If both breakers in a single row go out, you may have a burned up bus bar there.

For two rows, and not others, to go out, very unusual. Maybe if they're the bottom two on the panel and somehow the bus bar burned up or took damage, but they usually don't make bus bars thinner near the bottom, so there's no reason for that to happen.

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