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Murray Red Main Breaker Alert


mgbinspect
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Greetings all.

There was apparently a recent recall of a red electical main breaker. Does anyone have a bead on the specifics of that recall? Manufacturer? Thanks in advance.

I'm not aware of such a recall.

The last recall I heard about for circuit breakers was the counterfeit Square D breakers, none of which were red.

Before that were the Square D AFCIs, none of which were red either.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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No recall - Not even a Douglas Hansen article. But, there have been many failures.

They're manufactured by Murray and several electricians I know have declared them junk. They often insist on replacement when they're called in to do other work. In several cases, a main breaker replacement has turned into a panel replacement as the bus bars were damaged or the breaker welded itself to a bar. "Lights are flickering" is the most common complaint before the breaker fails. I've found some to be very hot and some have turned to a light salmon color, possibly from long-term heat.

During the mid '80s, I used to call for replacement of red Murray main breakers, but almost all the electricians called in for the replacement weren't familiar with the problem and declared me an idiot. With no official documentation to back up, I now only advise replacement if I can find a problem, like flickering lights or a very hot breaker.

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No recall - Not even a Douglas Hansen article. But, there have been many failures.

They're manufactured by Murray and several electricians I know have declared them junk. They often insist on replacement when they're called in to do other work. In several cases, a main breaker replacement has turned into a panel replacement as the bus bars were damaged or the breaker welded itself to a bar. "Lights are flickering" is the most common complaint before the breaker fails. I've found some to be very hot and some have turned to a light salmon color, possibly from long-term heat.

During the mid '80s, I used to call for replacement of red Murray main breakers, but almost all the electricians called in for the replacement weren't familiar with the problem and declared me an idiot. With no official documentation to back up, I now only advise replacement if I can find a problem, like flickering lights or a very hot breaker.

Given that main breakers are rarely loaded to anywhere near their rating, what was the mechanism of the failure?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I don't know. I wouldn't have the opportunity, or the skill/knowledge, to perform autopsies on failed breakers.

Here's a pic I found:

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Yes, I found several discussions about them. The issue seems to be related to a poor connection at the bus -- not unlike Zinsco.

I've probably seen one of two of those, but they seem to be extremely rare in my part of the world. I'd remember a bright red main breaker.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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tn_201071641822_DSCN8676.jpg

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I see this breaker about once every forty to fifty panels or so around here. I believe it was John Cranor, of our local ASHI Chapter, that floated the e-mail a few months ago.

So, naturally the red flag went up (no pun intended), when I opened the panel and saw red. And, it was indeed a Murray panel.

I told my client I'd get back to her as soon as I had credible info regarding my concern. Now I can shoot her an e-mail heads up.

Thanks for your help all.

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I see about a half dozen of those a year. I can ony remember one where that main was so hot that I could feel the heat on my face. Absent a recall and good verifiable info at the time that it was an issue, I punted it to a LE for followup.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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  • 8 months later...

Just a little reminder and reinforcement:

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tn_20114175253_DSCN0070.jpg

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As you can see, the main breaker is overheating at the bottom - in the very place that it is in Bill's photo above. Apparently the bus is getting hot enough to affect breakers below, which also show signs of over-heating: cracked and melted jackets.

A thread on MikeHolt.com addresses this breaker. It reveals that most electricians find it necessary to replace the entire panel, because the bus is too damaged to install a new main breaker. The only alternative they discuss is to remove and flip the entire bus, but they clearly document the measure, as a temporary fix, on the cover of the panel.

Don't under report the presence of this main breaker!

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