Melting breakers Federal Way, WA

My kids rented the movie “lemony snicket’s a series of unfortunate events”.  Although the movie was a little different my kids loved it and Jim Carrie was his usuall funny self in a sort of eerie way.

Well this week, we found some breakers that nearly caused  a fire in an electrical panel that seemed to have suffered a series of their own Unfortunate events.  Although it is impossible to know exactly what caused the melting and burning int he panel that resulted in a complete panel replacement here are some things that definitely contributed:

  1. A Cutler Hammer breaker in a Siemmens panel
  2. A large furnace motor with no capacitor
  3. No electrical inspection


1. What is wrong with a CH breaker in a Siemmens panel? The national electrical code stipulates that only breakers designed and manufactured for a particular brand of electrical panel can be used.  What is the result when this rule is broken?  I’ve got to be honest, usually nothing, BUT in some cases is can result in breakers that don’t fit properly and the case of this customer it was a near fire!

2. The furnace motor had a problem.  It was missing its capacitor.  Since capacitors reduced the amount of amp draw when a motor starts this could have put additional stress on the breaker that eventually (10 years) ended up failing and also caused failures of nearby breakers.

3.  An electrical inspection for the installation of the furnace circuit would have really helped in this case.  Inspections are required any time a homes electrical wiring is added or altered.  Inspections can prevent contractors from “cutting corners” at the owner’s expense. It can also encourage quality work.  Contractors who do not pull permits may not even be properly licensed. In some municipalities a permit will not be issued unless proof of a current business license is produced. If a contractor is unwilling or unable to pull a permit beware.


After electrical inspections L&I leaves a green sticker like the one above. These are only given if the installation passes final inspection and all corrections are completed. Can you find one on your system? Call us for a fee compliance inspection. We can pull a permit for you and make any needed corrections omitted by the previous contractor.

If there are serious installation issues they might be able to be fixed at no cost to you through the states bonding program. Contact L&I at 206-835-1000 and they can help