Circuit Breakers are protective devices that keep us safe from electrical fires, protects equipment and is used in almost every household, business or manufacturing plant.
Want to hear something really scarry?
Counterfeit Circuit Breakers were being sold to everybody including Nuclear Power Plants. Altered Circuit Breakers with the amperages changed, incorrect labeling depicting incorrect aic ratings and Painted Circuit Breakers were being distributed to electrical distributors without their knowledge.
In 1985 when we opened our doors, these practices were commonplace for many Circuit Breaker Resellers. Most companies in this small industry at that time knew what was happening. Common practices of duplicating the Manufactures labels, copying of UL tags and copies of the manufactures packaging were common.
Remember, I am talking about 1985. There were no scanners or computers. There was no Internet, All that was available was using Zerox Machines or having a printer make the labels for you. If this has caught your attention, there is more to come.
Altering Circuit Breakers, unbelievable but true.
Companies would alter the circuit breakers to change amperages. if they did not have a 225 amp, they would alter the circuit breaker and sell you a 225 amp. To do this, you would open the circuit breaker to get access to the internal components, open up the trip unit and change the distance between the Thermals and the trip bar. The thermals are bi-metalic strips that when heated would expand at different temperatures. The current heats them up and they bent and trip the mechanism. There are screws that are soldered or glued that would need to be turned to adjust the distance. I recall conversations when the technicians would state to turn the screw 2 times to go from 70 amp to 100 amp and others that argue “no it is 1 1/2 times”.
Cleaning Circuit Breakers with solvents
Some circuit breakers can not be fully disassembled. some company’s would dip the circuit breakers in solvents or even dish soap to clean out the dirt and grime. This is a bad idea because the circuit breakers had teflon based lubricants on the pivot points. The company’s that had experience would make sure to add the lubricant after.
Filing down contacts. Yes they really did this.
If the contacts, both the fixed and movable contacts were pitted, some companies would file them smooth to repair them so the circuit breaker could be resold. The continuity would be improved. Some companies would use carbon paper after to see how well they had done. Here is the danger of this, The manufacture designed the circuit breaker with all of the contact material there so there is a change from the original design of the circuit breaker.
You would not be aware of the modifications
You would receive the item in a fake manufactures box. It would have copies of the labels on the box also. More than likely you would purchase the item directly from the electrical distributor and they did not know either
Now the manufactures have done everything in their power to keep you safe from unethical practices. Most of the unethical companies are no longer in business. The manufactures have things in place so you can verify authenticity. Some even offer rewards. Unknown to most, Reconditioned circuit breakers are supposed to have the manufactures labels along with the UL tags removed and a lablel stating who the re-seller is.