Burn marks at hot bus bar?

Would anyone consider these burn marks, where apparently a breaker at one time was installed, enough to warrant further evaluation of panel?

The panel is an ITE Pushmatic, aluminum bus, approx. 40 yrs old. No other visible problems noted.

I always call out a panel with arc marks. But be ready for the electrician to bad mouth you. They are going to say it was probably during a modification or install that the arcing occurred and they will say your just making a mountain out of a mole hill. I always tell the client that I would rather be safe than sorry and to have it evalauted.

I would note it for what it is, and let the buyer know that it is an old panel and will likely have additional failures in the future. It does appear that there was a breaker that failed at some point and it was taken care of. Tell them to have the hole covered with an insert, and monitor it for signs of failure. (buzzing, humming, crackling, popping etc.)

Some things are what they are. This is an old panel, and is showing it’s age. (Probably right along with the rest of the home.) After all they are buying an old house, and old houses need to have things replaced.

It looks like a breaker fried and died at that location and was removed.

If I saw no other damage, I would note the lack of a snap in cover over the opening and the arc marks at some time in it’s past.

From the pics it looks like the problem was removed.

Is there a blanking cover over the slot where the breaker was removed? First picture looks like it’s an open slot.

This was basically my viewpoint. Of course I noted missing cover. No visible damage, but can’t see behind breakers, that was my concern.

Like mentioned it is an older home (1980), also first time buyers, don’t want to alarm them if not warranted. The rest of the house was in pretty good shape, minus open ground 3-prongs and low water pressure at some locations.

I agree.

In report:

Burn (arc) marks noted at hot bus bar, top left. Appears as breaker failure at that location at some point in past and has been removed. No other visible damage noted. This is original service panel and at some point in time will need replaced. Safety: Recommend to cover opening with blanking (filler) plate.

Ahhh my old favorites the Bull Dog Push O Matics. The problem is that even if the burn marks are from an issue in the past the fact remains that the Hot Bus bar has lost some of its intended integrity and needs to be replaced plain and simple. When dealing with the heart of the electrical system there is no room for guessing or assuming. A burned buss bar needs to be repaired period.


Here’s what it looks like.

304K guy told me FHA/HUD wants Pushmatics replaced.

Thanks, I’ll remember that.

I’ve been seeing a lot of them in the last year, homes built in 70’s, 80’s. Usually there are enough “other” reasons, rust, burnt wires, etc., to recommend replacement or further evaluation by an electrical contractor. The burn mark was the only issue with this one, minus age.

Is there a specific problem with those breakers? Seems to me that they’re better than a stab-in style breaker because there bolted right to the bus.

Thermally damaged copper and aluminium loses its strength.
Thermally damaged plastic insulating parts, which may be under the bus, can become semi-conductive.
Thermally damaged fish paper, which may be under older buses, can become nearly completely conductive.

Replace thermally damaged parts. Period. It’s code-required anyhow.

NFPA 70-2011
110.12 Mechanical Execution of Work.
Electrical equipment
shall be installed in a neat and workmanlike manner.
Informational Note: Accepted industry practices are described
in ANSI/NECA 1-2006, Standard Practices for
Good Workmanship in Electrical Contracting, and other
ANSI-approved installation standards.
(A) Unused Openings. Unused openings, other than those
intended for the operation of equipment, those intended for
mounting purposes, or those permitted as part of the design
for listed equipment, shall be closed to afford protection substantially
equivalent to the wall of the equipment. Where metallic
plugs or plates are used with nonmetallic enclosures,
they shall be recessed at least 6 mm (1⁄4 in.) from the outer
surface of the enclosure.
(B) Integrity of Electrical Equipment and Connections.
Internal parts of electrical equipment, including busbars,
wiring terminals, insulators, and other surfaces, shall not be
damaged or contaminated by foreign materials such as
paint, plaster, cleaners, abrasives, or corrosive residues.
There shall be no damaged parts that may adversely affect
safe operation or mechanical strength of the equipment
such as parts that are broken; bent; cut; or deteriorated by
corrosion, chemical action, or overheating.

No. They were quite possibly the finest panel ever made for residential use. They’re just getting so old that they’re at or near the end of their useful life. People have reported difficulty operating the pushbutton mechanism in Pushmatic panels installed outdoors or damp ambients.

I’ve found that they can be difficult to manually cycle on and off. Some times they shut off but won’t go back on. Most likely due to the fact that no one has touched them in decades. :slight_smile:

Welcome back Marc! Good to see you posting again!