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Oxidation on every breaker


Chad Fabry
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Every breaker in the Murray 200 amp panel had a little pile of aluminum oxide? just like the one in the photo.

It's one of the few panels I've inspected where there isn't a host of installer issues, so I can't lump it in with "get a new panel".

It's not aluminum oxide. That breaker design has a little dollup of a plaster-like substance above each lug. It's there to cover a screw that's installed perpendicular to the lug. I sometimes see the plaster-like stuff degrade into the powder in your pictures.

I don't know why the plaster-like stuff is there. It might be to prevent the electrician's screw driver from touching it. It might be that they just want to hide it so that people don't confuse it with the lug. Or it might be that they don't want the screw to vibrate loose.

In any case, I suspect that after the breaker is installed the stuff isn't particularly necessary anymore.

Might be worth writing to Siemens about. (Siemens now owns Murray and that breaker is a Siemens design.)

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I spoke w/ a Siemens rep and emailed a photo. The factory tech guy wouldn't communicate w/ me because all residential questions are handled by reps. So anyway, I sent the photo to the rep who didn't know what it was and he forwarded the photo to the factory guy who wouldn't speak with me and together they determined that it's a non-issue. They concurred with Jim it's the plastic degrading.

They declined the opportunity to send me an email stating that it is fine.

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together they determined that it's a non-issue. They concurred with Jim it's the plastic degrading.

Plastic degrading is not what I would call normal or acceptable for that matter.

It's not plastic. Well, I suppose it depends on what you mean by plastic. This stuff is very much like plaster. Go pull out a Siemens or Murray breaker & look at it. Poke the white plaster-like stuff and it just pops right off revealing a screw beneath. I doubt very much that this stuff serves any useful function once the breaker has been installed.

I just looked at a Cutler Hammer breaker and a Square D breaker. They both have a little screw in the same place, but those are covered with a tiny paper sticker, which probably serves the same purpose as the plaster like stuff on the Murray/Siemens breaker.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Go pull out a Siemens or Murray breaker & look at it. Poke the white plaster-like stuff and it just pops right off revealing a screw beneath.

I did what you suggested. My wife wants to me to ask you what to do with the stuff that was plugged into the circuit that is no longer supplied from the breaker I pulled.
I just looked at a Cutler Hammer breaker and a Square D breaker. They both have a little screw in the same place, but those are covered with a tiny paper sticker, which probably serves the same purpose as the plaster like stuff on the Murray/Siemens breaker.
GE uses a paper sticker too.
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. . . I did what you suggested. My wife wants to me to ask you what to do with the stuff that was plugged into the circuit that is no longer supplied from the breaker I pulled.. . .

Tell her to toss it. If her grandmother didn't need it, she probably doesn't either.

Too many electrical thingies nowadays anyway. . .

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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