Scares me

And I am not afraid of anything. Keep finding these breakers on kitchen ranges/cooktops



Is that a 40 amp stove breaker? The wire does not look large enough.

I am new to infrared, as I have just recently received my Flir B60. I have been playing with it and found that an image like the one you show, tells you very little without knowing how much current is flowing through the circuit. I looked at my panel, saw the same thing and upon checking it with a clamp on amp meter found that there was only 8 amps flowing through a #12 wire and the 20 amp breaker. Far less than 80% of the breaker value. As this circuit was hotter than the rest, I got this disturbing thermal image. Correct me if I am missing something, but imaging a distribution panel without checking current flow is a waste of time. To simply look and tell the realtor and the client that they better have an electrician check it out is doing a diservice. The people involved are going to be a liitle upset if they have to schedule an electrician to come out and tell them everything is OK. I am aware that checking current is outside the scope of our inspections, but then again, so is thermal imaging.


Do you have the digital image of that breaker area?

That is a very good observation James[FONT=Tahoma][size=2].[/size][/FONT]
[FONT=Tahoma][size=2][size=2]There is all kinds of insufficient information here. However, a differential in temperature across the two legs is an indicator, as the load should be balanced for this appliance circuit.

Also, any temperature in this range is enough of a consideration if the ambient temperature in the panel is this low. As this is a dedicated appliance circuit, we can often assume that the circuit is operating at capacity for this appliance, regardless of amperage (that is if the appliance is completely turned on during testing).

We must assume that the emissivity was correctly set (but unless Charlie is playing his “Watz-This” games, you can be assured it’s correct).

I don’t understand your post information fully. More information needed there also.
You’re absolutely correct if you say that a “slightly” overheated breaker can be “significant” even at low temperatures.

It is very refreshing to see someone new to NACHI as well as the infrared field making these observations. There is far too much opinion here that qualitative thermal analysis is sufficient!

You will probably be put in the doghouse for suggesting such absurd comments like taking amperage readings during thermal analysis of electrical service equipment, but hang in there!

Have fun I have a early morning inspect trying to beat the snow storm will get back with this later

James when you come to know me a little better I think you will realize that I don’t make silly mistakes like you mentioned. As David A. stated it is refreshing to see someone use their head for something more than a hat rack. Your statements make a lot of good sense.

The pic’s I illustrated were of a 4 burner cook top breaker no oven. I shot several images of this panel and documented the rise of temp over a time frame of approximately 15 to 20 minutes with the elements in the high range full amp load. This home had a 1968 FP 100 amp panel original as built but the home had undergone add on’s was approximately 2500 SQ feet and no electrical updates. My client has the intentions to convert the electrical cook top and oven over to gas and my recommendation in the report was to update the main panel by a licensed electrican to accomondiate the size of the home.

Since there is so MUCH, please show me ONE person who has suggested
that qualitative analysis alone, on the electrical system, is sufficient. I have
never seen anyone on this forum post such an idea.

Hello John, I took your course and found it very informative. Thank You. So qualitative analysis alone is not enough, I certainly agree, but how do most inspectors handle a hot spot (and wire) in a panel? Surely they dont recommend an electrician just because the one circuit is warmer than the others. As I said before, it may be well within the capacity of the breaker and the connected wire. It may simply have more of a load than the others. Charley, I was not referring to you, I was speaking in general. If I find a FP (Federal Pacific?) panel, I recommend replacement anyway. I guess I did not read your original post well as I thought we werer looking at two seperate 110V breakers.

The biggest problem here is people pretending to be electricians and writing up problems that don’t exist.:wink: (not you Charlie)

Would that be a Federal Pacific Stab-Lok panel I see?

David S would you expand on your statement a little and yes that panel was a FP stab-loc I have a ton of them here.

Actually my statement was jab at someone that likes to make thinly veiled inuendos every time the topic of IR comes up. (again…not you)

Being a stab-lok says it all and so does the thermograph. The focused heat pattern clearly indicates poor contact which is common to stab-loks. Those panels heat-cycle more than modern units due to poor contact of the breaker at the bus, and inevitably are prone to loosening of connectors. You need not investigate further. Its the reason that I always recommend immediate upgrade of these units. This would be a problem whether the circuit had 3 or 30 amps running through it.

You can’t even see the part of the breaker where it connects to the buss!
How do you know this?

No, I’m not pretending to be an electrician here!
By the way, it doesn’t take an electrician to call this. It takes a trained thermographer.

And I assumed you determined this the same way you conjured up this…

Do some research on Stab-Lok panels and you’ll know it too :wink:

Umm…er…concentrated heat at a contact lug comes from resistence. Resistence that shouldn’t be present at the breaker lug. Resistance that comes from poor contact. Concentrated heat that radiated outwards through conduction from the source.

The basic theory behind the heat/resistence relationship was around long before I “conjured” it up.

…in any case, troubleshooting this without referring it to an electrician to verify proper contact at the bus and the lugs is the equivelant of filling your car with deisel and trying to troubleshoot your injectors. It don’t work.

You are correct, just because one circuit is warmer than the other does
not mean it is always an overheating defect. We caution students on this
point during every class. If a person does not have a solid background
in electrical systems, then the camera will get them into trouble sometimes.

Each circuit has to be evaluated by the amount of load (amps) that
is placed on the circuit, rating of the breaker and conductor, and
the amount of heat being generated, in relationship to the environment
(ambient temperature) the circuit is working within.

Turning the camera on is not the hard part, it is the analysis of the
system that takes much longer to learn. Since home inspectors
do not normally dismantle the system they are inspecting, then
it is always wise to call in an electrician for further inspections,
when an actual defect is detected, and to allow them to recommend
the final repair.

Would you be so kind as direct me to where Stab-Loc breakers have been defective where the wire connects at the breaker lug? I can only seem to find it it where it connects in the panel (as you said) and problems tripping at rated loads.


I’d like more info. on this too. I was always under the impression that the breakers tended to loose their connection in the panel. IE a breaker falling out of the panel when re-setting it and not being able to re-install it.

Any links you can provide are appreciated. Thanks

Therein lies the problem John, one does not neccesarily know if there is there is an acual defect without further testing. (such as amperage readings) Putting on an electricians hat (even if qualified to do so) during the inspection can open up a whole new set of problems, such as not being protected by the limitations of the SOP. So then, One sees a “hot / warm” circuit breaker and attached wire during a thermal scan, How is it reported?