Image of Zinsco circuit breaker source Amazon
If you still have a Zinsco breaker, chances are you are not 100% about how to remove it. Being an old circuit breaker, there is little information about how to remove them. But thanks to our deep knowledge of circuit breakers and other electronic components, we are here to help you make the right choice. You will learn all the right techniques for removing a Zinsco easily and safely.
What is a Zinsco breaker and why does it need special attention?
Zinsco was a well-known manufacturer of circuit breakers and as well as distribution panels. The brand was famous way back in the 1930 and most households and even commercial spaces relied on their circuit breakers. However, this brand name is not as common today as it was before due to different reasons.
What were the safety concerns about Zinsco breakers? The company’s production was immensely affected by the shortage of copper material in the 1960s. This forced the company to shift to the aluminum wires. To be precise, the aluminum Alloy 6061 became a go-to solution.
While aluminum has desirable electrical properties, it also comes with an array of disadvantages that may inhibit its performance in various electronic applications. The main issue with Aluminum in relation to the Zinsco is oxidation. According to a report published by NFPA oxidation of the aluminum wires was responsible for causing up to 100 deaths. This causes a major dent in the use of aluminum for the wiring projects.
A major design flaw was another factor that pushed Zinsco out of the breaker market. This design entailed connecting the circuit breaker to the bus bar. It exposed the busbar to high heat, a factor that was linked to not only damage but also fire. Prolonged exposure can also prevent the breaker from tripping in case of high current. This ends up exposing electronic components and devices to the risks of high current and voltage. Also, long-term exposure to this heat forces the breaker to embed itself to the bus bar, hence making it hard to remove. This is why there are special techniques of removing Zinsco breakers.
Tools you should have
Some of the tools that you will need when removing the Zinsco breaker include:
- A multimeter
- Channel-lock plier
- Needle-nose plier
Before you start removing the breaker…
Here are a few things that you should take care of before you embark on the process of removing a Zinsco breaker:
- A vertically positioned Zinsco breaker will give you an easy time to remove. It is easier to access this breaker and you will only need to unscrew the conductors.
- A Zinsco breaker that is horizontally positioned will require some extra steps in order to be removed. Here, you will have to use all the tools at your disposal in order to access the metal bars for releasing the breaker.
- You may use a cold chisel to dislodge the breaker at the end of the bar though this method is not recommended.
- You should take your time or be patient. Take things slowly so as to avoid causing any serious physical damage when removing the Zinsco breaker.
Steps and procedures
Here are the steps that you should take and the procedures that you should follow when removing a Zinsco breaker
Step 1: Turn off the power and circuits.
This is a standard procedure when doing any electric-related task. You should start by switching off the power on all the circuits in the building. The easiest way is by turning the switch at the main breaker panel off.
The main reason for doing this is to be safe from the dangers of being electrocuted. Even after switching it off, you can confirm the state of the electric circuit at the breaker using a multimeter. You may also verify the state of the electrical panel so that you can ascertain that nothing has been damaged. You should seek further professional advice in case you notice any flaws or hear some buzzing sounds emanating from the main breaker panel.
Step 2: Unscrew the conductors from the breaker
After you have confirmed the state of your breaker panel, you can proceed to initiate the process of removing the breaker. It all starts with turning it off and then disconnecting the conductors from the circuit breaker.
Since most conductors are connected to the bars, you will simply need to slid the bar up and down so that you can unscrew them. A needle-nose plier and a screwdriver will be the most ideal tools for this job.
The arrangement of Zinsco breaker in the panel box will determine the ease at which you will access the screw. Tusually the breaker may be positioned vertically or horizontally in a circuit panelboard.
Step 3: Pull the circuit breaker out
Now that you have disconnected the conductors, now it is time to remove the circuit breaker from the panel. You should do this process carefully to avoid causing any serious damage. Since Zinsco breakers are quite old, chances are you will have to struggle with the removal process.
Some models of the Zinsco breaker will require sliding it from the busbar so as to remove it. For other models, you will have to detach the breaker from the two fins.
You may consider using a janky crowbar to detach or remove the breaker from the busbar. Applying extra force may be necessary for the removal process.
Those are the key steps for removing a Zinsco breaker from your panel box. Now that you have removed it, what next? If you would like to continue using it, you will have to inspect its state and condition. From there, you will be able to decide whether it is still useful for your application.
Since Zinsco breakers are very old, there is a high chance that you would like to replace yours with a new one. Ensure that you buy the right circuit breaker that will serve as a replacement. Check out Zinsco circuit breaker suppliers online and with some guidance, you will be able to get the best solution.
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