DEFECT: Mismatched circuit breaker & panel brand
A common electrical defect that we find on home inspections is mismatched brands and types of circuit breakers in an electrical panel. Many people think that if they can get the breaker to fit in the panel then it must be fine. There are several reasons why this is a very bad idea!
Each manufacturer designs their own panels and breakers to work together as a system, these systems are then approved by the Underwriters Laboratories (UL). This UL approval is contingent on proper installation in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. The majority of electrical panels clearly state in the instructions that breakers of the same brand and type are to be used. If these instructions are not followed, the UL rating of the panel is void. Not only do the brands need to match but the type of breakers also, most manufacturers make several types that are not compatible with each other.
If there is ever an insurance claim on the home due to a fire or electrical problem, a mismatched breaker and panel voids the UL rating of the panel and therefore gives the insurance company a reason to deny the claim.
Besides insurance liability issues there are safety issues. Each manufacturer designs their equipment slightly different, just because you got to breaker to fit doesn’t mean that it is correctly contacting the bus bar. This can cause overheating, arcing, short circuits and numerous other dangerous issues.
So even though this seems like a minor problem that many people think can be ignored, it is a serious problem that should be repaired immediately. It is always recommended that this type of electrical work be performed by a licensed electrical contractor to ensure that it is done correctly.
This information was provided courtesy of Southwest Premier Home Inspection, LLC. Reproduction in any form is not permitted without consent. Copyright 2008-2010 Southwest Premier Home Inspection, LLC.