Circuit Breakers: 5 Maintenance Tips

Most buildings have circuit breakers, whether they’re zoned commercial or residential. You want those breakers to always function correctly. Part of how you can be confident that will happen is by maintaining them.

You can buy top-of-the-line electrical system components for your home or business, like a square D 100-amp breaker. You can also maintain your circuit breakers by following the tips outlined in this article.

Check the Breakers Every 1-3 Years

The first thing you can do is conduct a detailed inspection of your circuit breakers every 1-3 years. How often you do it will depend on the atmosphere in which they’re located.

For instance, if they’re located in a particularly corrosive, dirty, or dusty area, you will want to check them yearly. If you have high ambient temperatures or moisture levels, that will also warrant checking them every year.

Check for Rust or Obvious Signs of Corrosion

When you check the circuit breakers, you should look for rust or other signs that there’s corrosion evident. If you see anything like that, shut off the power and investigate.

Usually, rust or other deterioration will require you to switch out that particular component. You should also check the surrounding area to see if you can locate a nearby leak or any other obvious cause of damage. If you see anything like that, you should address it to prevent this from happening again.

Conduct a Tripping Test

You can test the breakers to make sure that they’re functioning correctly. A tripping test is one of the easiest and best ways to test a breaker’s efficacy.

You will apply 300% of the continuous current for which that breaker is rated. If it’s working correctly, that should never fail to trip it. If you apply that much current, and the breaker doesn’t trip, then you’ll know it’s not functioning properly and that you need to replace it.

Conduct a Ground-Fault Trip Test

You can also conduct a ground-fault trip test. You do that by triggering a ground fault and seeing how long it takes for the breaker to trip.

For the most part, you should see the breaker trip within 10 seconds if you’re conducting a ground-fault trip test. Any longer than that, and you will know there’s something faulty with that breaker that needs investigating.

Contact Resistance Testing

Finally, you should make contact resistance testing part of your routine during circuit breaker maintenance. You do that by measuring how much the electrical connections, such as busbar sections, joints, and terminations, contribute to the system’s total resistance.

You can get back a lot of data about your circuit breakers and their effectiveness when you conduct this test. If you have any damaged contacts, this procedure can reveal that very quickly. You can see arcing or even a fire if your system does not have the proper contact resistance elements in place.

If you test your circuit breakers in the ways we’ve described, you should be able to tell that everything is functioning correctly.



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