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Hot breaker and liquid on wire

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pic one will show a 12 gauge wire with liquid on it.

pic 2 will show it in infrared.

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tn_20116291143_IR_breaker.jpg

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As I took the cover plate off I noticed a liquid on one of the wires, I took my screwdriver and carefully touch it. It was a greenish/blackish color...no kind of leakage anywhere to be found, so it must have come from the wire possibly melting. I was sitting on their washing machine and a cabinet prevented me to see the connection to the breaker. I did notice what I could see had this liquid on the bottom side of this wire from the breaker to the drip.

I had just gotten my new FLIR I7 today and scanned the panel, which is pic 2. The temperature was 85.9 on the hot breaker and the second measurement, botoom right was 78.8, 20amp also.....

I told the client of this problem and suggested I turn it off to prevent any damage and that she should call to get an electrician here to further investigate the issue.

I shut the breaker off and the fridge, kitchen, laundry room, and central ac died.....

Seems like a major overload to me. What do you think?

I did suggest leaving the ac off and we could turn the breaker back on to run the fridge until an electrician showed up . We did. Right or Wrong?

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pic one will show a 12 gauge wire with liquid on it.

pic 2 will show it in infrared.

As I took the cover plate off I noticed a liquid on one of the wires, I took my screwdriver and carefully touch it. It was a greenish/blackish color...no kind of leakage anywhere to be found, so it must have come from the wire possibly melting. I was sitting on their washing machine and a cabinet prevented me to see the connection to the breaker. I did notice what I could see had this liquid on the bottom side of this wire from the breaker to the drip.

I've seen that liquid several times before. I'm nearly convinced that it's a byproduct of the wire manufacturing process and not related to overheating of anything.

I had just gotten my new FLIR I7 today and scanned the panel, which is pic 2. The temperature was 85.9 on the hot breaker and the second measurement, botoom right was 78.8, 20amp also.....

I hope you're not suggesting that the temperatures that you measured today are a problem. They're well within the normal temperature of a breaker. Hardly worth mentioning, in fact. Of course the IR image makes it look like the thing is about to combust.

I told the client of this problem and suggested I turn it off to prevent any damage and that she should call to get an electrician here to further investigate the issue.

I think that, at that point, with the information you had available to you, that was a crazy over the top recommendation. Aside from the liquid and an 86 degree breaker, was there any sign of a real problem?

I shut the breaker off and the fridge, kitchen, laundry room, and central ac died.....

Seems like a major overload to me. What do you think?

I think that either something is really, really, really screwed up to have one leg of an AC circuit sharing a kitchen branch circuit *or* you're mistaken about what it actually controlled.

I did suggest leaving the ac off and we could turn the breaker back on to run the fridge until an electrician showed up . We did. Right or Wrong?

No way to tell without knowing more. If the AC is really wired through that single pole breaker, I'd say you stumbled upon a really grievous problem.

Do you have any shots of the full panel?

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There is a seperate 20amp ac breaker box outside, with a pull out fuse.

Yes the infrared did give me a scare seeing the breaker and wire showing hot....I'm still concerned...

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There is a seperate 20amp ac breaker box outside, with a pull out fuse.

That's the line-of-sight disconnect. There should be a breaker in the service panel that cuts power to it. I vote for the two pole breaker at the middle left side of the panel. Was it labeled AC?

Yes the infrared did give me a scare seeing the breaker and wire showing hot....I'm still concerned...

When the IR camera is auto ranging it makes perfectly normal things look scary. Does it help to realize that your hand is hotter than the hottest thing in that image?

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Jim is spot on. The temp of your wire in that pic is less than the highest point (which is white & 86.4 F) The other breakers aren't "lit" up in the pic because they aren't under a load. In fact at that temp, the "hot" breaker would likely feel cool to the touch.

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The central AC system will 'die' if the low voltage transformer in the air handler loses power. What this means is that the air handler, which includes the blower motor, is powered by this breaker. Since the breaker is a 120 volt, the blower is a 120 volt, and a 120 volt blower motor is a significant load. Some go up to 8 - 9 amps, with starting currents twice to three times that figure (for capacitor start induction motors). It should be on a dedicated circuit.

Circuits serving the kitchen countertop surfaces should not serve loads from other rooms.

There are far too many loads on that branch circuit, though as Jim K suggests, there's no evidence of an overload from the IR photo alone.

I'd absolutely write up that new circuits are needed.

Nice IR camera.

Marc

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You new I7 should have come with a book. Read it. Scan something that you understand and match what you see in the image to what you know about the scanned item. Lather, rinse, repeat.

By misunderstanding the range in that image, you scared yourself and your client. IR is a cool tool, but isn't worth a hill of beans unless you know how to use it.

Nice job on the matching visible spectrum pic, when I get excited about an IR image I often forget to take those.

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Ok... I can agree on the service breaker outside...I can agree with the temp being within normal...I can also agree that the 2 pole breaker middle left is for ac...I can accept the liquid answer...I agree the breaker was under a load...

Facts:

There were no labels for any breakers.

The Hot 20 amp breaker was Not hot to the touch, felt like all the rest.

There is a dripping liquid on the wire.

There is a black and red wire terminating in the panel box with electrical tape on the ends(on the lower right).

There are two black wires connected with a yellow wire nut(on the left).

One 100 amp main disconnect in the box.

Noticed no GFIC,s on the exterior or in kitchen and laundry before opening the main box.

Infrared did confirm breaker and wire to be hotter than others.

Shut off the 20 amp did stop the power on ac, kitchen, laundry room, fridge.

House built in the mid 60's.

Outside temp 88 and sunny.

The facts above contributed to my opinion there is a problem of overloading on that circuit at the time of my inspection. Resulting in my recommendation an electrician be called in.

My question/concern is why did the 20 amp shut the power off to the ac?

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Because you don't want the condensing unit running without the indoor blower running = liquid slugging. There was most likely a blower interlock as it should be.

Could also be that if they were using one transformer for control power then turning off the breaker dropped out the control circuit.

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My question/concern is why did the 20 amp shut the power off to the ac?

It doesn't need to shut off power to the AC to stop it from working. It only needs to shut off power to the low voltage transformer which supplies the 24 VAC needed to actuate the relays and the contactor that actually switch on the compressor, condenser fan, heating elements and blower when the thermostat commands it.

When the serpentine belt in my truck breaks, everything stops...everything.

Marc

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Facts:

There were no labels for any breakers.

The Hot 20 amp breaker was Not hot to the touch, felt like all the rest.

There is a dripping liquid on the wire.

There is a black and red wire terminating in the panel box with electrical tape on the ends(on the lower right). Looks like they are not in use and taped to prevent accidental contact. could be abandoned.

There are two black wires connected with a yellow wire nut(on the left).Allowed, and commonly needed when panel is changed.

One 100 amp main disconnect in the box.

Noticed no GFIC,s on the exterior or in kitchen and laundry before opening the main box. You said the house was built in the 60s. This pre-dates GFI requirements.

Infrared did confirm breaker and wire to be hotter than others.

Shut off the 20 amp did stop the power on ac, kitchen, laundry room, fridge.

House built in the mid 60's.

Comments in blue by me.

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Whew!

CoolSigns, Here's a suggestion.

1. Give the client back his/her fee.

2. Stop inspecting.

3. Take a basic electrical systems inspection course from a reputable electrical trainer.

4. Ride along as an observer with an experienced inspector for several months and pay particular attention to how he/she evaluates electrical systems.

5. Ditch the IR camera until you've had more training on how to use it properly.

6. Once you've got a better handle on the subject matter, go back to work.

Chris

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My question/concern is (when I flip the breaker to off) why did the 20 amp shut the power off to the ac?

Around here, AC systems are tied into the forced hot air heating systems. Turning off power to the furnace shuts down the thermostat and when the thermostat is off the compressor/condensing unit outside, which is on a separate circuit from the furnace, shuts off.

Yeah, maybe that furnace should have it's own dedicated circuit, but as long as the combined load on the circuit doesn't exceed what's necessary to trip that breaker, having it sharing other circuits might not be technically correct but it isn't a red light and siren issue.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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(Coolsigns) Jim,

You took some harsh criticism in this thread without getting defensive. I admire that. Keep asking questions & studying until your education outpaces your enthusiasm and you'll do well in this field.

Jimmy

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(Coolsigns) Jim,

You took some harsh criticism in this thread without getting defensive. I admire that. Keep asking questions & studying until your education outpaces your enthusiasm and you'll do well in this field.

Jimmy

After that, can he get cranky and defensive? [:)]

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My question/concern is why did the 20 amp shut the power off to the ac?

It doesn't need to shut off power to the AC to stop it from working. It only needs to shut off power to the low voltage transformer which supplies the 24 VAC needed to actuate the relays and the contactor that actually switch on the compressor, condenser fan, heating elements and blower when the thermostat commands it.

What the OP needs to understand is that it is possible to have separate control circuits, and transformers, for the heat and the a/c. Shutting down the furnace doesn't always shut down the a/c (although it should). He didn't understand why the a/c shut down when shutting down the furnace. The bigger problem is understanding why the a/c should shut down if no indoor blower is present. I'm not telling you anything new.

Although it was a little on the harsh side (much like me) the advice given about getting a good grip on things is spot on. The folks that are paying you trust that you know what your doing. I fully agree with ditching the IR camera until you have a grasp on the basics.

I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, a group, huggy feely, type of chap but I like ASHI - a lot. ASHI has a ride along program where a seasoned inspector agrees to allow a newbie the opportunity to ride along and observe. Join ASHI, find a mentor (that is not paranoid) and learn. Do not expect to be paid however "out of pocket expenses" should be expected.

The next best thing is to read. There is a wealth of information on this web site. You could get lost for weeks just following threads and their offshoots. When I get stuck the first thing I do is a search here and if I hit a dead end I leave a help message.

Best....

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To briefly enlighten those of you who have so graciously helped me with my concern.

I have spent the past month and a half doing a self study course from AHIT at a cost of $1000, including their ReportIt software. Last Friday I took and passed the national exam. Along with gathering information on tool purchases, insurance quotes, new phone lines, etc....I'm confident by your comments that you are aware of the stress we face. Some days are better than others. And I do appreciate your generosity.

The client was a friend helping me fill one of my four needed free inspections for the InterNACI membership quota.

This was my first of many inspections. Live and Learn.

I purchased the FLIR I7 to enhance my business, for $1695 new, no shipping, no taxes, no brainer.

My infrared imaging is an optional service. Of course this tool will need to be upgraded, but that's a given.

I plan to add Energy Auditing to my business in the near future, as time, money and my brain permits.

I'm old in the Building industry and new in the Inspection arena, and every day this newness wears off. A gentleman on here once said "You have to have thick skin to survive" So again, thank you for your input.

To address the Bashers:

Some comments do not deserve a response.

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Coolsigns, you're not alone.

I bought an IR camera about three weeks ago. I showed some photos I'd taken to Erby this past weekend, and had to pretty much admit that I had no idea what I was looking at. There was one particular set of photos of a ceiling and wall that almost HAD to signify that there was a leak in the bathroom above me.

But like I told Erby, "It didn't look wet, it didn't feel wet, and it didn't moisture-meter wet." He said, "Then what are we looking at?" I had to honestly say, "I have no f**king idea."

hahahaha . . . there's always that damn learning curve that one has to hurdle.

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CoolSigns,

Where did you get the new I7 for $1695? Not refurbished?

One thing to remember when using the I7. IR cams see surface temp, not moisture. Even without a change in moisture content, the image of a ceiling or wall can change significantly based on the time of the day the picture is taken.

Keep participating here. This is one of the best places to learn. Don't be shy as its better to make a mistake here than out there. Make sure you can back up whatever you report.

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CoolSigns,

Here's more than you ever wanted to know about the liquid. (Found on the net.)

Attributed to NICEIC:

"Green goo is a phenomena sometimes encountered in electrical installations constructed in the late 1960s.

Unsightly green slime can occur in switch and socket-outlet boxes. It is understood that this phenomenon is most prevalent where pvc cables manufactured between 1965 and 1971 have been used.

The green slime, or green goo, is degraded di-isoctyl phthalate and is considered to result from a chemical reaction between the plasticizer of the insulation and the copper conductor in the pvc cable. Between 1965 and 1971 the temperature performance of pvc was uprated by the inclusion of an anti-oxidant into the pvc compound. An unappreciated side effect was that the anti-oxidant encouraged production of the exudate.

There is evidence to suggest that high ambient temperatures accelerate the process. The exudate is of low flammability and low toxicity. Although unsightly, it does not reduce the electrical integrity of the conductor or the insulation. However, the exudate may have detrimental effects on both accessories (in appearance and functionality terms) and their surrounding decorative finishes."

Attributed to IEE:-

"It is most prevalent in cables made between 1965 and 1971. The gunge is degraded di-isoctyl phthalate and is the result of the reaction between the plasticiser in the insulation and the copper. Between 1965 and 1971 the temperature performance of PVC was uprated by the inclusion of an anti-oxidant in to the PVC. An unappreciated side effect was that the anti-oxidant encouraged the production of exudate.

Evidence suggests that high ambient temperatures accelerate the process. The exudate is of low flammability and low toxicity. Although unsightly it does not reduce the electrical integrity of the conductor or the insulation.

Green exudate from PVC

Draft BCA statement (April 2001)

1) PVC

PVC comes in two main grades, plasticised and unplasticised PVC.

Unplasticised PVC (UPVC) is used for example in double glazing window frames where a rigid material is required.

The PVC used for manufacture of cables is a plasticised PVC that conforms to the relevant British Standard for the cable type in question.

2) Ageing effects

As a cable ages; (at temperatures above normal ambient), the elongation to break decreases (also the Insulation Resistance increases). The life expectancy of a cable is arbitrarily considered to be when the elongation to break of the PVC is 50%.

A lower elongation to break value could be considered suitable especially for a fixed wiring cable. Therefore, providing the cable is not subject to movement or when moved due to inspection of socket outlet or the like, the PVC does not crack, a much lower value of elongation to break is considered by some as suitable.

3) Greening

Greening is the appearance of a wet green substance that is a product of an adverse reaction between certain types of plasticiser and the copper conductors. This greening, which is a rare occurrence, can happen either after a long period of time for some cables, or if the cable has been severely overheated.

The plasticiser itself is a clear oily liquid that is non conductive.

The green substance is a combination of copper oxide and plasticiser which may become conductive under certain adverse conditions.

4) Action if Greening is found

Therefore whenever this green substance is found at socket outlets etc. initially it should be removed and the terminations cleaned (gloves should be used) otherwise it is possible that tracking/overheating may occur. It is strongly recommended that rewiring should be carried out as soon as possible."

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Sounds like your post is full of conflicting exudate to me!

NICEIC & IEE say it's okay,don't replace.

BCA says: rewiring should be carried out as soon as possible.

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