75 F Breaker

I shot this breaker and did not think to much about it but was going to note in my report. When talking to the owner she stated that the breaker was always fliping off and the electrical contractor was going to replace it.

Just because its not 160’F Note it just the same.




The breaker is not 75°, it’s at least 77. You did not adjust your temperature spot.

This is an indirect temperature reading as we are probably looking at internal component failure. The actual temperature of the internal components cannot be determined because they are enclosed in the breaker.

You can remove the breaker and take another thermal scan of the breaker and determine the source of the heat (whether it is internal or external connections or an overload).

Your scan was taken with the breaker panel cover still on, so we can’t discuss an overloaded circuit.

However, this may be the cause of excessive heat. This circuit should be tested for amperage draw at the time of thermal scan to determine if the breaker is hot because of maxed out load or if the breaker is overheating with a low load (indicating internal breaker failure).

Insufficient information to report on this anomaly.

Good post David.

I would like to see this panel and breaker with the cover off and expose
the breaker, since someone said it needs replaced. I had a breaker look
like that, but behind the breaker (where it connects) was very hot.

Also, your comments of high load causing the trip vs low load causing the trip
is key to avoiding false assumptions.

I wonder if the person that recommended the breaker to be replaced has
determined if the cause of the tripping is happening at low or high loads.

Some breakers under load will have a normal heat pattern. You can’t call them
all out or you will have electricians following behind you to re-inspect all the panels
that have no problems. Not good for the inspector in the long run.

Good points David.

This is the most accurate and relevant statement. A breaker measured at 77 degrees is not even worth commenting on, without additional information and findings. . .

This was a failed breaker.

6 Amp draw on a 15 Amp breaker.

Thanks for the input. If was not a cold day this photo would have been a no show. 55F day temp

It has been my thinking to just make a note: of the issue and any further information required the owner should contact a electrical contractor to advise.


If you have a $6,000 camera, I think that an amperage meter, moisture meter, anemometer etc. is necessary to complete your inspections.

It is not the responsibility of the electrician to figure out your anomaly. They cannot see in IR. They cannot interpret your IR scan (especially if it is not thermally tuned).

I’m surprised that the “that’s beyond home inspection” guys have not jumped on my statement “remove the breaker”!

Yes, this is beyond home inspection. This is all beyond home inspection. Once you go beyond, you’re expected to carry it to the end.

It is your responsibility to determine what an anomaly is and if it is significant before you send your client off spending more money on something that may or may not exist.

Absolutely not!

You have a substantial anomaly there (more than likely)!

The fact that the breaker is tripping (as reported by the homeowner) is an indication of defect.

The problem is you do not have sufficient data collected to verify this.

[size=2]I think you should go back on this message board and review some of the conversations we have all had in the past. It is paramount that you not rely on the infrared camera to determine the actual cause of a thermal anomaly, rather to use it to locate it and allow you to follow up with normal home inspection investigative techniques.

If you turn your camera on auto, snap some pictures, do not thermal tune your infrared scan (this means taking out the temperature spot if it’s not necessary or accurate), do not follow up with associated backup test equipment and recommend somebody check it out, you’re taking a shortcut and this is not about shortcuts.

Using thermology does not save any time. I spend twice as much time on the inspection and reporting but I come up with twice as many important problems.

I think qualified tradesmen will many times find more than the IR camera can
reveal, once they begin the repair process. It might be a stretch to think
that we will know all the answers and no one will find things we could
not see, once they begin the destructive evaluations and repair processs.

I still recommend evaluations and repairs by qualified Professionals, even
if I feel certain I have found all the issues. I have pulled off too much
wall and ceiling coverings in my life to forget all the surprises I have found
many times. I found a lot of suprises in 25 years.

I found the foil backed insulation in an attic charged with electrical current
one time. It took us quite some time to find the ONE nail that pierced
the a single wire and transferred the current into that foil. I do not believe
a home inspector with an IR camera would be required ‘to take it to the
end’ and find that ONE nail, just because he had an IR camera.

We may find a lot of anomalies, but the qualified Professionals that come
behind us should be the final authority on declaring how and what to repair.

I like your idea of taking off the breaker. Not everyone may want to do
that, but with your knowledge, I think you know what to do.

I also include the following text in every report…

NOTE: All Photos & Items, in this report, are only a sample of conditions listed, and are not intended to show all the possible
items that may be discovered if further inspections and repairs are done. It is not uncommon that more concerns may be
discovered during the repair process on a home. This is why it is always recommended that only qualified Professionals
be consulted and used for any repairs listed below. This report is based on a limited visual inspection of accessible items
only, at the time of the inspection. No future performance predictions are made on any items.

NOTE: Although Infrared Thermal Imaging is a far better diagnostic tool than the naked eye, it does not guarantee 100%
accuracy, unless removal or destruction of components can be achieved to validate findings. When possible, other tools
are used to verify Thermal Images, but even with these considerations we do not claim to have x-ray vision. Conditions may
change and cause the apparent temperature readings revealed in Thermal Images to be different at any given time.

I think your interpretation of “taking it to the end” goes further than I intended.

What I am saying, is that if you see a blue spot on your IR camera, you just don’t call in someone else to “figure it out”.

In “Taking it to the end” I mean that you determine what the anomaly is, not that it is just there. Is it air infiltration, missing insulation, moisture intrusion, moisture condensation, or an electro-mechanical heat source behind the wall.

This takes other equipment besides the IR. This is my point.
If you have a hot wire, why is it hot? Use other test equipment to further document your findings. Is it hot because it’s loose, overloaded or defective.

All this must be known so you can correctly defer to the correct trade.

So when you see something like this in the picture (parents breaker), how would you further inspect/report this?


The comment in red would be what goes in my report (no IR :frowning: )

Put an amp meter on it.

Breakers get hot, that is what they do normally.

The next thing is to find out what is and is not an issue.
Get with the Mfg.

If it’s only 70-80 deg F, I would NOT be too concerned without additional evidence of a problem.

My main point on this breaker was that the owner had her electrical contractor set to come out and up date the complete panel before i shot my IR Photo. The panel cover had ground wires attached to the face of the cover and i stop at things like that.

We did get some very good post on this subject.

I do think some over reacted to this thered and did not understand the main point. And thats ok. Good info just the same. :smiley: