Cutler-Hammer CH breaker issue

It might be time to expand the awareness on a particular issue that has been happening for the last 6 months or so to me and others. Cutler-Hammer CH series panels and breakers have long been considered the Cadillac panel for a residential setting. For that reason, I have been mostly using CH panels in my new work, and in old work whenever I reasonably can. It would be fair to call me a Cutler-Hammer CH fan or fanatic.

For the last several months, maybe longer, certain panels have not been holding the breakers on very well. You clip on a breaker, and it pops back off the buss… literally. I try new breakers, old breakers, and old-old breakers, and they all pop off the buss, so I’m reasonably certain the problem is related to the panel itself. The 100 amp panels, in my lay experimentation, seem to suffer worse, but not all of them. I’m not smart enough to pin down exactly what feature of certain panels causes this problem, but it is very real.

I recently took a pile of these panels, still in their sealed boxes, back to the supply house for credit. I vow to not use them anymore until this issue is resolved. There’s too much at stake. Naturally, they looked at me at the supply house like I had three heads, so they opened one up and tried for themselves. I was happy that the breakers popped off for them too, so they could see the problem first hand. This issue has been talked about a tiny bit here and there on the net over the last few months, but it’s mostly only been known to CH fans.

I post this so that home inspectors who inspect new construction may be aware of this issue when you inspect new Cutler-Hammer CH panels that have recently been installed in new construction. You may end up with one, several, or many breakers flying out at you when you remove the cover. It seems that the installation of the cover is what’s holding the breakers in permanently on panels that seem to suffer from what might be some sort of defect.

I hope there’s going to be some quick and speedy resolution to this, because I’m a bit sad about it.

“so they opened one up and tried for themselves. I was happy that the breakers popped off for them too, so they could see the problem first hand.”

It is satisfyingly when that happens…


Interesting enough I have spoken to the people at CH about this, they stated to me that it is from a run of buss bars that are wider than the normal specs and this will not allow the normal gapped sized breaker to seat on the buss properly.

Granted you are in PA and CH is also in PA…I believe it to be a regional issue for the most part and is being corrected from what I am told, Never fear CH should be back to it’s normal self in future runs and will not be a wide spread thing from what I am told anyway.

I could not replicate the process on some new panels I encountered down here and in the CH office center…but what are you saying is very true and stories are coming in about it…but I think thanks to electricians like yourself they are dealing with the problem.

It’s just troubling that its been happening for months, off and on. I wonder how many panels are manufactured in a 6 month period? I’m not saying that the sky is falling, but jeeze… where’s the QC? Wouldn’t you think that somebody would be plugging on a breaker standard at the factory in every so many panels to check this sort of stuff? Maybe measuring parts first, before they’re installed? I was under the impression that the CH panels came out of their Avery Creek, NC facility.

-Lamentations of a distressed sparky.

lol…probably do but the testing generally comes out of the PA office, in fact the are getting ready to build a much larger facility and so on.

I think it happens in the tolerances of the production, if the pour is off in the production it is a chain of events down the line sad to say.

The good news is they know about it and are working on it, because of the set gap on the breakers itself is not the problem, streamlining the solution should not be brain surgery for them so I am sure they are right on it.

Like I said…while I have heard of the issues, I was up in PA just about 1 month ago and played with some panels just produced and they did not have the problem…in fact once you click the breaker in I could actually lift the whole panel with the breaker installed…so it leaves me to believe it is isolated to specfic run…yes sad it happened and i am no defending Eaton…but since most sampling is in bulk stages I bet they just slipped by.

Chances are you are buying them from a supply house that well to be honest got a batch of the problems in a shipment no doubt.

They have a new panel in the works to meet with the AFCI thing as well which would get rid of the pigtails and so on so hang in there Marc…things will chance for the better.