Electrical Wiring in the Home/spark inside circuit breaker


panel box label
panel box label  
QUESTION: I have a circuit breaker when turned on shows a small spark inside (via a window) the breaker does not trip. Is this a problem with the breaker (which I can change) or might it be a problem with the wiring. attached is a picture of the label of the breaker box

ANSWER: Robert Wilber
Philadelphia Licensed Electrician
Philadelphia License # 3516 - 16765
Electricity is dangerous!
You can be injured or killed!
Improper installations can cause fire, injury and death!
Are you qualified to do this work?
National Electrical Code definition, NFPA 70 2008 Article 100: Qualified Person. "One who has skills and knowledge related to the construction and operation of the electrical equipment and installations and has received safety training to recognize and avoid the hazards involved."
Electricity is fire in a box! Death on a leash!
Always check with the local “Authority Having Jurisdiction” for an official interpretation before making installation decisions.
In Philadelphia, it is unlawful for anyone except an individual licensed by the City of Philadelphia to install electrical equipment and wiring.
Homeowners are not allowed to install wiring.
The owner of any property wherein any such installation is discovered shall be issued a violation by the Department of Licenses and Inspections.
The limited exceptions include replacing devices and fixtures at existing outlets.
Contact the Department of Licenses and Inspections for more information.
You are more likely to be killed by 120 volts than any other voltage [120 volts creates the PERFECT fatal current through the human body's electrical resistance!]
This information is provided for the use of parties as they see fit!
I am not responsible for the application of this information by any party, including those lacking sufficient skill or knowledge to perform these steps safely and any hazard created is the SOLE responsibility of the user.
What do you mean by a spark and turned on. Do you mean continually or occasionally while the breaker is on, or do you mean momentarily when you turn the breaker on when it has been off and then it doesn't happen again? If it is the first, then the breaker is shot and I am surprised it works properly. If the latter, then it may be contact bounce arcing under load.
In any case, Wadsworth went out of business almost 25 years ago so, unless your service was made with equipment from their last production run, it is probably time to seriously plan for replacement of your service.
What state are the cables in?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks for the quick reply and the warning. I would have an electrician do the work. The breaker sparks only for a second when turned on. Does that mean the breaker is bad? If the breaker is bad perhaps an alternative company makes a compatible breaker. Does one exist? (I heard federal pacific went out of business and my electrician got a breaker that was compatible)

Federal Pacific has nothing to do with Wadsworth. I believe American makes a compatible new replacement breaker for Wadsworth panel. I wouldn't buy salvage unless I was desperate.
You still haven't explained exactly WHERE the spark occurs.
How did you become aware of this issue?
Does breaker trip often?
A new breaker wouldn't hurt
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Electrical Wiring in the Home

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Robert Wilber


Licensed Philadelphia electrician serving Delaware, Chester, Montgomery and Philadelphia County in Pennsylvania. I install and repair residential, commercial and industrial wiring and lighting. Troubleshooting and repair of problems that stump other people is my favorite. I am willing to help people figure out why things don`t work. I understand motor controls, transformers and machine wiring. I do not teach basics to novices or do free design work.


Experience in the area I have 44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair, 480 volts and below. This is not to be confused with one week repeated two thousand times.

44 years experience in residential, commercial and industrial electrical construction and repair

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