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#179059 - 05/04/05 07:46 PM Smell coming from breaker box
Wendell1964 Offline
first timer

Registered: 05/04/05
Posts: 3
Hello, I noticed today that I have a slight burning plastic smell coming from my breaker box. Is this normal during high load times. Is it time to call an electrician or am I just being paranoid?

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#179060 - 05/04/05 08:56 PM Re: Smell coming from breaker box
Arnold Offline
Helpful Electrician

Registered: 07/09/02
Posts: 5000
Loc: United States
Feel each of the breakers with your fingers. Are any of them hot?

I suspect a loose connection somewhere in your panel is creating heat that is melting some insulation. I would get this fixed soon. Chances are all that it takes is tightening a screw (and cutting away some damaged wire if necessary). It's simple, but working inside the panel can be dangerous so only a qualified person should open it up.
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#179061 - 05/04/05 09:07 PM Re: Smell coming from breaker box
Wendell1964 Offline
first timer

Registered: 05/04/05
Posts: 3
I checked each breaker and none were hot but I am going to call in a professional to check it out. Thanks for the reply.

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#179062 - 05/07/05 02:57 AM Re: Smell coming from breaker box
mtofell Offline
Handyman

Registered: 04/01/03
Posts: 860
You are on the right track by calling in a pro... it sounds like a loose connection. This brings up a topic I have wondered about that maybe one of the pros can comment on. I once smelled the burning plastic smell you talk of and when feeling all of my switches found the culprit. It was on a thermostat for a baseboard heater and the whole thing was pretty much fried.... Anyhow, do the manufacturers of wire make the plastic sheathing so that it smells a lot when it burns or is that just lucky? The odor from mine was so strong that it smelled in the house for weeks after I fixed it. I have often wondered if this is on purpose or just lucky... I know any plastic smells pretty strong when burned....
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#179063 - 05/07/05 03:05 PM Re: Smell coming from breaker box
3phase Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/09/02
Posts: 6849
Loc: Licensed Electrical Contractor...
MTO, I think the stink from the wiring is just luck. I remember from old Firefighter training that all plastics do indeed give off noxious gases. I hate getting the wire smell on my nands, it lasts for days. A burnt out light ballast is even worse!
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#179064 - 05/07/05 06:31 PM Re: Smell coming from breaker box
Wendell1964 Offline
first timer

Registered: 05/04/05
Posts: 3
I had a pro look at the breaker box and he found a few loose connections. He told me this is common because when there is a load on them they heat up and when the load is discontinued they cool off. The heating and cooling will, through time, cause the screws to loosen on the breaker.

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