Another day of Zinsco

This panel had several problems (starting with its brand name).

You could hear the sound of frying bacon :smiley: as this 30 amp, 240V breaker was “welding” itself to the bus bar.

Also pictured is a fine example of how not to avoid double tapping a breaker when you need to add a circuit (all wire sizes are still required to meet the breaker rating).




Great example of using the Thermal…I preach it until I am BLUE in the face and you would be amazed how many HI’s dont have a thermal…Man you are the ZINSCO KING…:slight_smile:

Looks like a nice spray paint job too Jeff…:wink:

Jeff “Zinsco” Pope :mrgreen:

Speaking of thermal. I used my thermal cam, just on a whim, to check out a panel in a conco before I removed the dead front.

Noted one GFCI breaker (whirlpool) was hot (about 100 degrees) and one 1 amp breaker was also warm.

Took of the dead front and the GFCI breaker just flew out. It was arcing.

The 15 amp breaker’s wire was also warm. it fed the furnace blower and it seems that the furnace was recently changed out and the new blower motor was rated for 20 amps.


I hear ya bud…yeah what is scary is people replace motors and so on all the time and never give a thought to the electrical feeding it and take into consideration the wiring may not support it…they just hire a handyman and POP a new one in…end of story…

of course then the ORIGINAL electrician gets blamed when the fire happens…they say…aww…he undersized the motor wires…when actually he sized it CORRECT for the orginal motor…BUT no one remembers the little handyman…:frowning:

“BUT no one remembers the little handyman…:sad:”

Or the HVAC tech.

Yep…blame always goes BACK to the originator…lol…

I went on an electrical service call yesterday and went to look at this panel and again I was not playing HI on this situation…BUT I went to the panel and it has (5) double taps and just was a MESS…Incorrect bonding jumpers and different sized breakers for…well…just a mess…

I was their looking at something totally different but had to go into the panel…well I asked her…Madam, are you the original owner of the house…

She replied yes, I said…has any wiring ( toungue in cheek ) been added to this panel since then…she looked at me and said…NO…this is how it was when it was first built…I smiled…what else could I do…I looked at the panel cover and saw it was inspected back in 1990…

I said Madam…are you SURE no one has added anything to this panel and explained all the issues…she got MAD and said to me…That is how it was done when it was built…nothing has been added…

Well…I know better…I know the inspectors at that time and NO WAY…so when I offered a suggestion to how to correct it she said…it was fine in 1990 and it is fine now…it was a MESS…she then presisted to tell me how good the electrician was that wired it and he did it that way and he was the best and…blah…blah…blah…blah…I smiled and said…ok madam…have a nice day…

BTW- I provided her a LIST of what was wrong in the panel and that it should be corrected and my FEE for doing it…she said that is not what I called you out here for…so I dont care about the panel…NOW…if someone says I should have fixed it or turned it in…get a grip…this lady simply did not care…

While I am not a big fan of using specialized equipment wearing my HI hat (it gets complicated for me as a PE), some of my HI students (and Gerry … lol) might. While I will probably keep the laser thermometer in the bag at the panel for now, what standards or guidelines would you apply when taking thermal readings of breakers?

Try here and then one page back for good info about this topic:

Didn’t see any standards or hard temp range guidelines mentioned to apply to the laser thermo readings that may suggest it’s more effective that just listening for buzzing sounds and touching the breakers to see if any are unusually hot.

No, you’re correct. I valued what was said…I should have known you wanted means to verify/justify the use.

If you find that let me know, too.

I guess sometimes I enjoy the “dog and pony” show.

Robert just because one uses the fancy gizmo’s does not mean one has to admit it. If your thermometer reads a breaker with an “unusually high temperature” that does not mean that is how you have to write it up, you can still tell the client you touched the breakers if you want to.

I don’t like others around when I am inspecting a panel, as I like to fully concentrate during one of the most dangerous areas of an inspection. So, if it doesn’t give me any useful information, beyond just quickly touching breakers before removing the panel cover, then I really don’t see any point in spending extra time even getting it out of the bag.

I was thinking there may be some type of industry reference I wasn’t aware of (like a UL or NEMA standard) on acceptable temperature ranges for normal operation of breakers, which is why I asked the question.


Not that I am aware of in regards to a listed operating temp on breakers as they do flux with demand and so on in regards to the breaker. As we all know GFCI’s and AFCI’s will run slightly higher because of internal workings and so on…but here is my little rule of thumb…take it with a grain of salt as again it is MY little rule of thumb.

The Average Operation Temp. of a standard breaker - 68-80 Degrees
The Average Operation Temp. of a GFCI/AFCI breaker - 70-85 Degrees

  • Observation Notes: Double Pole and breakers rated for Conti. items ( over 3 hours cont. ) will have a higher allowance of 8-15 degrees

Any breaker in a panel that my thermal reads over 90 Degree’s is averaged around 3 breakers above it and below it…To isolate the breaker…Then the legend is viewed ( if available ) to determine the potential load that may be on it…After THAT…the HI must make the call as to if they write it up…personally any breaker I find over 90 Degree’s I report it should be checked…over 100 Degree’s I write up as " Have Evaluated "…

Remember…YOU do not have to DO as I say…These are things I do…and then again…I am a “Licensed” electrician…I do not have a PROBLEM pulling the breaker to check it out…YOU should not do that…understand this is for INFOMATIONAL purposes…NOT a guideline.

P.S. It is SOOO sad these days I have to put NOTICES on my posts for fear someone will take a post the wrong way…lets see how many DO…

Unless the panel is in the sun in Arizona.

Since you are in AZ fella…give me some readings…my standards are for the nice and wonderful VA weather…adjust accordingly…:wink: