White Powder coming out of Breakers

I saw this today and don’t know if it may indicate failure of breaker or need to replace breakers. The white powder is coming out of a gap near the screw fastener on the breaker. All other breakers had intact white material in this gap. This is a double pole breaker servicing the clothes dryer. The other picture shows a normal breaker just above these breakers.

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The white seals to keep someone from tampering with the internal screws have been previously scarred/damaged by a screwdriver or something similar, and are breaking down. Shouldn’t be a problem if no other defects observed with the breakers.


Good to know. Thanks Junior!

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You’re welcome. :slight_smile:

Probably another inspector checking it out :smile:…no problem, IMHO.


Actually…years ago, I had to directly contact several manufacturers for the answer and here it is. First, not a problem. It is sealant used to close up the breaker after final manufacturing adjustments. Over time, particularly in panels exposed to sunlight and heat, that get very warm, the sealant degrades some and seeps out as that powdering residue.


The response you got parallels several blog posts. Here’s an apparent quote from a Siemens employee to someone with the same problem:

We have looked at these pictures with our engineering department. These are definately our breakers and they are not counterfeit. The flaking of the sealant can occur from contact from the screw driver or something similar.

If you are concerned about the flaking, you can also call your local
electrician to come out and check on your load center and breakers

Please let us know if you have any further questions.

Best regards,

Kathrin Mai Vickery
Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc.
Industry Sector, Residential Products Division"

This is utter nonsense on the face of it, as if such massive deterioration is trivial or that mere contact “from the screw driver or something similar” would cause breakdown of a factory applied sealant or potting compound.

Given that Siemens’ reply appears to be nonsense, I’d call out the breakers as defective on the face of it, particularly if the deterioration occured in a wet or damp location where a potting compound may be necessary to protect internal parts of the breaker.

The compound is there to keep someone from attempting to turn the screw. The CB will work just fine with some of the compound flaking off.


I don’t doubt the manufacturers rep knew what they were talking about…

You categorize literally piles of white stuff at the terminal as merely “some,” as in incidental material and not a manufacturing defect? Please, give it up, already.

I was referring to the photo in post #1, there is nothing to call out.

Some probably snort bigger piles than that.