Cutler Hammer electrical panel fire (C) D Friedman B KesslerCutler Hammer Electrical Panel Fire & Failure Investigation - Field Report

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Cutler Hammer electrical panel fire field report: this article describes and includes photographs of a Cutler Hammer electrical panel fire that the electrician suspects was due to a faulty circuit breaker. Readers of this article should also see SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS. This website provides information about a variety of electrical hazards in buildings, with articles focused on the inspection, detection, and reporting of electrical hazards and on proper electrical repair methods for unsafe electrical conditions.

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Field Report: Cutler Hammer Electrical Panel Fire, Photos, Causation (?)

I have some more pictures from this CH meltdown

Cutler Hammer electrical panel fire (C) D Friedman B KesslerCutler Hammer electrical panel fire (C) D Friedman B Kessler

Speculation about possible causes of electrical panel fire - bad electric motor, panel age, corrosion

My first objective was to install the new load center, the burnout started with the two pole 15 that feeds a 20 year old pool pump. I am going tomorrow to meet the inspector for the new load center and that is when I am going to look into the "why" this Cutler Hammer electrical panel burned.

But I suspect its from a fault at the swimming pool motor, and possibly because the age of the panel, corrosion, (only a couple miles from the ocean). But I'll know more tomorrow and let you know. The homeowner is elderly. The pool maintenance guy was there when he saw smoke coming from the panel and he shut off the main breaker.

Cutler Hammer electrical panel fire (C) D Friedman B Kessler Cutler Hammer electrical panel fire (C) D Friedman B Kessler

Suspected loose or defective circuit breaker cause of electrical panel fire

So after megging [checking the electric motor with a DMM or VOM - see ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE and DMM Digital Multimeter HOW TO USE] the pool motor and the pool feeder I've determined it had to be a loose or defective breaker that started arcing out of control because the motor is fine and the feeders are fine.

Cutler Hammer electrical panel fire (C) D Friedman B Kessler

Like I mentioned earlier this home is only a couple miles from the ocean, the breaker had been installed for over 25 years. So I would guess that the breaker was loose or had loosened up. Also something I never liked about CA is this panel sat in the sun all day long, so maybe that had to do with it as well.

- Brian Kessler, Brooks Electric, 714-883-0894, Email:


NOTE: while the views above are by an experienced, licensed electrician, this field report does not include analysis nor conclusions by a professional arson investigator.

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