Free Encyclopedia of Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, Repair
Ask a Question or Search InspectAPedia
InspectAPedia ® Home
ELECTRICAL INSPECTION, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
ACCURACY vs PRECISION of MEASUREMENTS
AFCIs ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
ALUMINUM SECs & WIRING
ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS & REPAIRS
AMPS & VOLTS DETERMINATION
AMPACITY - the LIMITING FACTOR
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
BACKUP ELECTRICAL GENERATORS
BOOKSTORE - ELECTRICAL
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
Cadet & Encore Heater Recall
CIRCUIT BREAKER FAILURE
CIRCUIT BREAKER SIZE for A/C or HEAT PUMP
Classified CIRCUIT BREAKER WARNING
CORROSION in ELECTRICAL PANELS
CORROSION & MOISTURE SOURCES in PANELS
CUTLER HAMMER PANEL FIRE
DEFINITIONS of ELECTRICAL TERMS
DIRECTORY OF ELECTRICIANS
DMM Digital Multimeter, How to Use
ELECTRIC METERS & METER BASES
ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
ELECTRIC PANEL AMPACITY
ELECTRIC PANEL INSPECTION
ELECTRIC PANEL MOISTURE
Electric Power Frequency Table
ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION PANELS
ELECTRICAL GROUND SYSTEM INSPECTION
ELECTRICAL SERVICE DROP
ELECTRICAL SERVICE ENTRY WIRING
EMF RF FIELD & FREQUENCY DEFINITIONS
FEDERAL PACIFIC FPE HAZARDS
FIRE SAFETY Checklist, CPSC
GFCI PROTECTION,Testing GFCIs AFCIs
HEATING COST FUEL & BTU Cost Table
HEAT TAPE USAGE GUIDE
Hertz - Definitions of KHz MHz GHz THz
KNOB & TUBE WIRING
LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEMS
LOW VOLTAGE BUILDING WIRING
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
MAIN DISCONNECT AMPACITY
MOISTURE SOURCES in PANELS
MURRAY SIEMENS Recall
PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEMS
PUSHMATIC - BULLDOG PANELS
REMOTE ELECTRIC POWER, PHOTOVOLTAIC
RUST in ELECTRICAL PANELS
SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS
SE CABLE SIZES vs AMPS
SIEMENS MURRAY Recall
UNDERGROUND SERVICE LATERALS
VOLTS / AMPS MEASUREMENT EQUIP
WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS
WIND TURBINES & LIGHTNING
ZINSCO SYLVANIA ELECTRICAL PANELS
ITE / Siemens Bulldog Pushmatic Breakers: this article describes potential fire and safety hazards where certain Bulldog & ITE-Pushmatic circuit breakers and electrical panels are used. We provide Pushmatic circuit breaker identification photographs including of electrical panels and of individual circuit breakers. The article also discusses the history of Pushmatic breakes, gives advice to homeowners whose building is served by a Pushmatic electrical panel, and we discuss both compatability of and concerns when using replacement circuit breakers or used Pushmatic circuit breakers sold by salvage operatoers. We solicit field failure and field inspection reports of questionable or possibly problematic electrical equipment in buildings such as the Bulldog™ and ITE-Pushmatic® brands described here.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
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.
As of February 2009 we had received occasional field reports on product failures of PushMatics, and older similar Bulldog circuit breakers and electrical panels, but not enough data to reach a sound conclusion about the reliability and safety of this electrical equipment. we had been unable to find independent research reports on this product.
By April 2011, preliminary results of yet incomplete testing of a wider range of brands of residential electrical panels and circuit breakers, conducted by David Carrier, an electrical engineer, had begun to suggest some failures to trip among certain Bulldog, ITE & Siemens ITE.
That testing remained incomplete. Interestingly, in addition to the anticipated higher failure to trip rates among FPE Stab-lok design breakers Carrier was seeing an unanticipated trip failure rate among certain Murray circuit breakers and certain Challenger circuit breakers, Crouse Hinds circuit breakers. 
Photo of a Pushmatic electrical panel at left courtesy of Matt Steger.
Our own personal experience with inspecting and on occasion using ITE Pushmatic circuit breakers and panels did not encounter product failures and our lay opinion was that the product appeared (to visual inspection) well made. But at InspectAPedia.com we have received increasing questions about and mixed reviews about this product design.
This web page provides a contact point for inspectors to send field inspection reports, field failure reports, and reports of research, product history, and safety opinions regarding Pushmatic brand and Bulldog brand electrical panels.
Pushmatic Bulldog Circuit Breaker & Electrical Panel Brands & Identification & Compatibility or Interchangeability
These products were sold throughout North America. The original product name was Bulldog Pushmatic, a company also known for designing the Vac-U-Break circuit breaker. ITE purchased the brand (ITE Intermatic). Siemens purchased ITE. An electrical panel bearing the Bulldog brand probably dates from the 1950's.
Greg Bell, a Florida home inspector offers the following additional details, (edited and supplemented by DJF)
Bulldog or Bulldog-Pushmatic electrical panels use a unique, proprietary type of circuit breaker called a "Pushmatic." Bulldog panels with Pushmatic breakers indicate an older system that is no longer manufactured, making replacement parts difficult or expensive to find. There appear to be two major problems with Pushmatic Breakers:
The inspector concludes with an advice paragraph suggesting that the home inspector call for an electrician to shut down the panel power, inspect and check the contacts for rust and corrosion, and proper bus-bar contact.
Our OPINION is that this is unreliable advice since it begs the question of whether or not the INTERNAL parts of the breaker are unreliable and it may fail to trip in response to overcurrent.
Patent Infringement: 1953 case of Westinghouse v Bulldog Electric Products Co - giving us an idea of the age and history of the Bulldog brand. Westinghouse sued Bulldog for patent infringement. The document is useful for pointing out technical differences among similar-looking products. The Plaintiff's complaint was dismissed. A copy of the court document is Westinghouse v. Bulldog.
Home inspectors encountering a Pushmatic or Bulldog brand electrical panel should warn consumers that
Contact Us to Provide Pushmatic or Bulldog Electrical Equipment Field Failures & Observations
We would be very grateful if readers, owners, home inspectors encountering this equipment Contact Us by EMAIL with any field observations of apparent failures, overheating, damage, product photos. We will continue to collect data, credit contributors, and report the results.
Report ITE Pushmatic or Bulldog Electrical Panel Failures to the US CPSC
In addition to informing us of an ITE Pushmatic or Bulldog electrical panel or breaker event so that we can add this incident report to the data base we maintain, we encourage readers to report such events also to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission - it's easy: you can use a simple form at the CPSC's website: https://www.cpsc.gov/incident.html or you can send the CPSC email on incidents to: email@example.com
And we would appreciate hearing from professionals, home inspectors, electricians, engineers, regarding their opinion on what is sound, professional, unbiased advice that protects consumers without making unsupportable claims in this matter.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Bulldog & ITE Pushmatic Circuit Breaker Performance
Compatibility of Bulldog, Pushmatic, ITE-Pushmatic, Siemens Pushmatic Circuit Breakers
Question: What's the difference between ITE Pushomatic and Bulldog Pushomatic and ITE Pushmatics?
Is there a difference between the ITE Pushomatic breakers and the Bulldog Pushomatics? I have not seen a "ITE Pushomatic" panel with the words "Bulldog" on them. - Peter Bennett
We agree that we need more precision on this point and the text on this question is deficient. We think it's a matter of history of ownership and name changes but an online search in January 2011 did not find solid information about compatibility nor variations in the performance of these push-type circuit breakers among different labels and ages.
CONTACT us by email if you have information about this question.
Comment: Bulldog Pushmatic, disassembled, examined, comments
I have recently dismantled a Bull Dog Pushmatic breaker. The Bull Dog breakers have both, a electromagnetic, and a thermal element. The electric coil is under the metal strip, and pushes up on it. I suspect a design change was made in the breakers, sometime in the 50's and I'm not sure that some models were not electromagnetic only. I can recall from childhood that they trip instantly, with almost no spark. My father, an electrician, was messing with the xmas lights. I am a retired electrician. Getting them to trip at a lower amperage, and reassembling them is a bit of a nightmare. - Brian Torch - Canada
I too grew up with the view that Bulldog Pushmatic breakers were particularly nicely made and appeared to me to be of high quality. It was later after working as a field investigator and as an editor here at InspectAPedia that I was informed about concerns with the product performance. - D. Friedman, Editor.
Question: Phantom trips on 100A main Bulldog Pushmatic circuit breaker
I read your page on bulldog pushmatic breakers. I have a bulldog panel in my old home that was installed in an electrical system upgrade in the early 1960’s. It has worked fine up to about 2 years ago. Now we experience random “phantom” trips of the 100 amp main breaker.
No other circuits trip when this happens and it usually happens when there isn’t any significant loading of the system going on. It doesn’t feel hot and when reset, everything works fine for a month or two or three then it happens again. Could this be due to surges? Or is more likely to be just an age problem? I was told it might be cheaper to replace the whole panel with a newer one than to find a replacement main for this box. - J.W., Michigan
Because you are not aware of an overcurrent, that is, the main switch doesn't seem hot and you're not reporting visible arcing or odors, I'm still guessing that a breaker has an internal failure. I follow your suspicion that the problem is in the main switch.
But you could have a clandestine problem elsewhere in the electrical system or at one or more circuits fed from your Pushmatic panel. Circuit breakers are required to trip on a varying timeline depending on the level of overcurrent. So a more modest overcurrent (say an overloaded branch circuit) that runs for a long time and that should have tripped an individual breaker could be passing on its problem to the main switch without generating as much obvious tactile heat.
You or an expert could monitor current draw at the mains and across in-use circuits to see what's going on, though from your description I'm afraid it might take a long time to track down.
So what's phantom? Power surges on active circuits or a more hidden problem in the building's wiring, circuit usage, or breakers in the panel.
I agree that it would be economical (and probably more reliable) to replace the panel and breakers all as a set.
If you take that step and if you are interested, Contact Us and I can send you instructions on mailing in your equipment for an expert overcurrent test - there's no cost to you but the shipping. I bet that our associate David Carrier would be glad to put your equipment onto a test bench to see what's going on.
Question: One circuit breaker in my Bulldog Pushmatic panel keeps tripping.
I recently bought a home built in 1960 that has the Bulldog panel and Pushmatic breakers. One of the breakers is constantly tripping. I am almost 60 and leave alone. Should, in your opinion, I look for a replacement breaker or should the entire panel be switched out? From what I read on your website this old electrical panels don't seem to be very safe. Thank you. - C. 8/10/12
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem in an electrical panel. For example in the case you describe, one breaker repeatedly tripping, it is possible that the circuit breaker is doing its job - and that there is an overload or short circuit or other defect on that particular circuit.
That said, you have read that there are trip problems with some of this equipment; the safest policy would be to replace the panel.
But I would first ask your licensed electrician to thoroughly check the circuit whose breaker keeps tripping. For example, in addition to testing the circuit and the items connected to it, s/he might try swapping that circuit over to a different breaker in the panel to see if the problem recurs. That might give you a breather while waiting for the panel replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Pushmatic or Bulldog Pusmhatic circuit breaker failures
Questions & Answers on Bulldog & ITE Pushmatic Circuit Breaker Performance.
Ask a Question or Enter Search Terms in the InspectApedia search box just below.
Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.