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CEB 100Amp Main Switch + CEB 200Amp Breaker Panel


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We recently bought a house here in Elliot Lake and the electrical system is quite a headache.

The main switch is a CEB 100amp # F2022 N and the breaker panel is a CEB 200Amp B40200 with some free positions.

We became aware of a problem when adding a second desktop pc on the same circuit started tripping the breaker.

On removing the breaker cover we discovered what seem to be extra taps on some breakers. Not sure if there's been any arcing.

We're not sure exactly where we stand or what to do.

I can rewire outlets and add or convert them to GFCI but have never worked on or touched a breaker panel; it's beyond an amateur's capabilty for sure.

Can anyone give us practical suggestions, preferably cost effective.[?]

We just retired up here and in an ideal world would replace the panel with a new one using arc-fault breakers as well as upgrading to 200Amp service (we can't even use our window ac here right now!).

Have taken several pics of the main switch but have yet to figure how to attach them here.

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Most branch circuits in Canadian residential are 15 amp.

To attach pics, reduce their size to 800 X 600 or 640 X 400 pixels. Then click the button below. You can only load one pic at a time, but just flip back and forth to add more.

CEB brealer panels are no longer made, but they have a design similar to Westinghouse. I believe the breakers are attached to the bus with a screw.

With the breaker that trips turned off, go around and count how many outlets are not working, that is, are on that one circuit. There should be no more than 12 receptacles and light fixtures on a 15 amp branch circuit in Canada. That is the code rule, FYI.

Of course there could be any number of unused outlets, but the actual load, the total for all the appliances plugged in, is what will trip the breaker, if the breaker is good. Since you are seeing double-taps, we already suspect too many appliances running on that one circuit.

If there is no obvious overload of that one circuit, that is, a reasonable number of small appliances plugged in, then you may have a malfunction in that circuit somewhere, or the breaker itself may be bad.

Report back with more info. List all your major electric appliances. 100 amps should be sufficient for a small cottage. You should be able to run an AC. You need an electrician to repair the flaky wiring, before something catches fire.

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Thank you Marc; Thank you John Kogel!

The breaker that trips is a 15A.

I'm going to try attaching the reduced size jpgs now.

Some background info.

This is the former mining town where our (only) shopping mall collapsed a few weeks ago.

Nothing here seems to have ever been built (or maintained) to last!!!

This house was built in June 1976. All these houses were prefabricated with two sections placed on a prebuilt basement and joined together; typical of all the construction here. There is actually a contruction label that says "100amp service, 14 energised circuits".

Of course in the interim much seems to have been done with the basement finished, a laundry room and an extra bathroom added, and then all drywalled with numerous outlets and ceiling fans.

I'm obviously going to have to map out a schematic of exactly what outlets and lights are on each breaker. Notably there are absolutely no GFCIs at all, either outdoors or in the bathrooms. In fact my first priority has to be to add a GFCI in the main bathroom where my wife uses a hair dryer by the sink.

Thanks again.

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I can't be sure because of the picture quality, but I think I see solid Aluminum branch circuits. Are the bare ground wires silver?

Solid Aluminum branch circuits should be inspected and serviced in their entirety by a qualified electrician every 10 years to avoid loose or scorched connections. Google the subject for more info.

A home inspector would have told you this and it could have been made a condition of the sale.

If that isn't Al, ignore the above. [:)]

I think I see a couple of double-taps, lower left? Those can be repaired by adding jumpers, but only if the circuits are not overloaded by doing so.

Best to have a couple of new breakers installed.

The open junction box has a doorbell transformer attached. Wiring for the doorbell was allowed to be double-tapped in '76, and the extra draw is minimal, so that one is probably alright.

I question a red wire going to the neutral bus. Not saying it is wrong, but it can lead to miswiring at the other end. Both ends should be marked as neutrals with a piece of white tape.

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Thank you again Marc and John.

I'm sure everything is strictly copper; no sign of Al anywhere.

Just took a few more pics, this time with flash; please see attached.

Honestly I'm not comfortable touching this board other than to look. Partly this is because my hands nowadays are not too steady (I'm 71 and just finished a bunch of radiation treatment). Ironically as a "kid" I thought nothing of working on "hot" 220v circuits back in the UK.

It looks like I'm in for a date with an electrician. They're few and far between here in Elliot Lake. A neighbour just paid $500 to have a new single dedicated 15a outlet installed on a new breaker direct from the board. Is this normal? (I don't know how much "fishing" was involved).

Again, thank you very much Marc and John!

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OK, I see copper, that's good. There's a kinky wire in the upper left that looks like Al, but again that could be an illusion.

I see you have 3 240 15 amp circuits on the upper right, electric heat? Well with the heat off, you should easily have enough juice there to run an air conditioner.

Have you tried plugging the PC into another circuit? Try to trace the circuit to see what's up with it. The more info you can provide the electrician, the easier it will be for him to estimate the repair.

You need an electrician without a doubt, because the symptoms you describe aren't normal. But I don't see a total disaster there, just judging from these pics.

And as Roger Whittaker would say, "Baby, the rain must fall". [:)]

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It's most likely that there's just too much load on that circuit with the tripping breaker (pun not intended). Either that or the breaker isn't holding up under load like it's supposed to.

$500 sounds steep to run a new 15A circuit from the panel to a new outlet. Sometimes a contractor will abandon creative and simple solutions in favor of more $. In wiring there's usually options.

Marc

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Just a note to update the results of my investigation re the breaker wiring and tripping problems.

Had an electrician come in and look at the breaker board and we discussed options. He also looked at our needs in view of what we are using on various circuits and at least one is severely overloaded; bathroom light and exhaust fan, hall and two stair lights; receptacles in bathroom, hall and one small bedroom (3 receptacles) - which is being used as a home office.

Tentative decision was made to take two steps;

1: add three additional breakers and move the extras circuits on the double taps to them;

2: add a split duplex receptacle (2x 15amp) to spare bedroom / home office to serve two desktops pcs, one with a 21" CRT, two printers and two shredders plus various electronics.

3: Since both PCs alone each draw 10amps, (and we may upgrade at least one to a more powerful one with a 1200watt power supply) I am wondering if even a split duplex is going to be enough in the long run.

4: So, a question please if I may. This may be overkill but is it feasible and permitted by code [Ontario] for us to have TWO split duplex receptacles added? There's enough space on the board for the necessary 2x 2-pole 15a breakers. It seems that if we're having cables drawn from the board we may as well have the extras pulled now.

Just to clarify, this home office is just a hobby room with a lot of electronic gear! And, regarding the remark about Roger Whittaker, he is a huge part of this room. We operate semi-official presence on his website and maintain analogue and digital files of everything he has ever recorded and released as well as some unreleased material. This allows us not only to answers fans' questions but on rare occasions provide "replacement" tracks in mp3 format.

Hence the need for powerful pcs as well as "other stuff"!

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Hi Marc,

We replaced a couple of HP desktops with a couple of Dell XPS. First we got the XPS420 (which became the XPS9000) and a year later added the XPS435. One has a 375w power supply while the other has a 425w. Both are rated on their labels as 10a. The Viewsonic Ultrabrite a90f+ CRT is too heavy (45lbs) for me to lift to see the rating label. The desktops are heavily customised; dual hard drives (Raid 1) plus optical drives. They are each connected to their own amplified speaker system.

Power problems started when the XPS435 replaced the last HP. The breaker kept tripping and I just gave up and connected the second XPS to the next room to keep us going until we can resove this.

I have no way to measure the actual current draws in real time so all I can go on is the label specs. There's so much heat with them we need extra cooling for this room!!!

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