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Thread: Stove won't work after HVAC install, Alabama electrical question

  1. #1
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    Stove won't work after HVAC install, Alabama electrical question

    Stepson South of Birmingham, AL just had a new heat pump system installed and the kitchen stove hasn't worked since the guys left. He called them and they basically brushed him off but I paid for the job and I'm just getting started. Even if it's the company's fault, if it's a simple fix I'd to it myself. In this case it's too far away for me to go look at it and his electrical experience is very limited.

    It looks like a new breaker adjacent to the one for the range. I'm guessing they somehow killed the stove breaker or it died of old age, or a surge killed the range. It's a Whirlpool glass-top 5-8 years old. The light and clock work but no burners or oven. He tried to check for power at the outlet but might not have made contact inside the outlet.

    What really stumps me is the breaker box. This box is outside the house a foot from the meter and there's another box inside. I believe the top breaker in this box feeds the inside panel, the next feeds the range and the bottom feeds the HVAC. Neither box has an obvious way to shut off the panel. That's new to me - I don't see how you can safely replace a breaker if you can't shut it off. I might be able to do it but wouldn't want to and I'm not about to try to tell him how to do it.

    Questions: How do you shut the power off? Is that an Alabama thing or am I missing something obvious or what?

    Anybody ever hear of a stove being killed by working on the HVAC?

    An honest electrician, preferably South of Birmingham?

    I'll appreciate any advice. They're hardworking underpaid people and I want this to work for them.
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  2. #2
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    I agree. Looks like the mains come in at the bottom from the meter box and any shutoff would have to be in the meter box or by pulling the meter itself. I'm not an electrician by any means. Does the meter box have a seal on it? Has he tried turning the breaker for the range off and back on? The clock and light might be powered by a separate 110 volt outlet.
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  3. #3
    I have a Whirpool glass top range in my house, and there is only one 220V plug. If the clock and display work, then it is likely that one of the main power lugs is loose or disconnected, or the power distribution module on the back of the range is blown. I would have the outlet tested first, or test it with a multimeter to be sure you are getting a full 220V to it. If you are, then it is likely the range. If not, then work backward to the panel to find the problem.

    I lived in an apartment 20 years ago that had an old electric range. One day, the range light worked but the burners wouldn't get hot. I took the back cover off and looked at the wiring. There was a connection block that distributed the incoming 220V power to the unit, and one of the two bars was completely blown in two. I went to the appliance store and they got me a part for $20 that I replaced myself. I included the receipt and a note explaining what had happened with my next rent check, and the landlord thanked me for saving her the cost of a repair call.

  4. #4
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    There is a seal on the meter. I don't expect the problem to be with a breaker but it should have been easy to check, and that one is pretty old. All the breakers have been flipped several times. Something blown out in the range seems more likely. I'll ask him to take the back off and see what he can find.

    If he measures resistance between male contacts on the power cord while he turns burner controls on, should he see resistance change?
    Last edited by Alan Rutherford; 01-17-2019 at 9:32 PM.

  5. #5
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    Check both wires on 220. The clock and light work off one leg of the 220, Replaced the range then found bad outlet. I would check wires in breaker. Top white wire doesn't look like inserted all the way.

  6. #6
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    If there's a "Control Lock" button on the control panel for the range, try having him press and hold that for 5 seconds or so. "Control Lock" locks out all the other controls on the appliance, so you can't turn oven or burners on.

  7. #7
    If the panel in the first photo were mine, I would replace the upper left hand breaker. It appears that breaker is rusted and may be nonfunctional.
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  8. #8
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    Alan

    Not to be cavalier, or smug, but I have rarely shut off power to an entire panel to replace a breaker.
    Those look like Murray style breakers or an equivalent, so they should just have to be turned off, rocked to the inside and pulled out, to replace them. The wires would be disconnected with the breaker not installed. Installation would be the reverse. Those are pretty inexpensive breakers, maybe $10.00 at most, and two of them should be candidates for replacement. It just takes a DMM to see if the breaker is working.
    Can your stepson measure across the breaker with a DMM, and then each leg to the panel itself? You have to know that 240vac is going to the stove first off.
    Can replacing one breaker, cause another to fault? Anything can happen with electricity and breakers
    That panel is an ugly mess and if it were me it would be remediated, but that's not easy for most people, and if this panel is truly the first panel from the meter, it would be very expensive.
    Solve the stove problem first,
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Cutler View Post
    Alan

    Not to be cavalier, or smug, but I have rarely shut off power to an entire panel to replace a breaker.
    Those look like Murray style breakers or an equivalent, so they should just have to be turned off, rocked to the inside and pulled out, to replace them. The wires would be disconnected with the breaker not installed. Installation would be the reverse. Those are pretty inexpensive breakers, maybe $10.00 at most, and two of them should be candidates for replacement. It just takes a DMM to see if the breaker is working.
    Can your stepson measure across the breaker with a DMM, and then each leg to the panel itself? You have to know that 240vac is going to the stove first off.
    Can replacing one breaker, cause another to fault? Anything can happen with electricity and breakers
    That panel is an ugly mess and if it were me it would be remediated, but that's not easy for most people, and if this panel is truly the first panel from the meter, it would be very expensive.
    Solve the stove problem first,
    Glad you said it....

    I wonder if the HVAC guys were qualified to do electrical? If I were them and saw that box, I'd say "whoa, this oughta be cleaned up a little bit". Maybe not by them but as an advice to home owner to call an electrician.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Orbine View Post
    Glad you said it....

    I wonder if the HVAC guys were qualified to do electrical? If I were them and saw that box, I'd say "whoa, this oughta be cleaned up a little bit". Maybe not by them but as an advice to home owner to call an electrician.
    Bill
    Yeah, there's a lot more wrong there at first glance, but Alan is just trying to get the stove to work so that his stepson's family can cook dinner.
    It kind of supports my view point that 99% of the folks have no business opening up a breaker panel. It's a very arrogant and condescending thing to say, but having remediated many panels like this through the years, my opinion isn't going to change.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  11. #11
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    The panel is in terrible condition.

    That said, it’s possible that the breaker for the range has tripped on one pole only or has become unplugged from the bus on one pole.

    Have an electrician look at, arc flash injuries are no laughing matter. I had an arc flash incident a couple of weeks ago caused by a wayward strand of wire, fortunately I was wearing a 30 calorie suit, hood, balaclava and gloves.

    Regards, Rod.

  12. #12
    What is a 30 calorie suit?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Hoyt View Post
    What is a 30 calorie suit?
    Tim
    A 30 cal suit is a big, heavy, set of "Overall's", Kinda like a cross between a "bomb squad suit" you would see on TV, and a NASCAR pit crew set of overalls. They also come in lighter "gauges". My guys typically have 8-14cal clothing for any work over 51volts and less than 243volts. Above that, it's Arc Flash gear.
    The material, combination of Nomex, kevlar spun fiberglass and other stuff is rated for the amount of energy it can absorb and still provide protection for the user. They're heavy and they're hot. In the US, they are OSHA required articles of safety equipment required to be worn when Arc Flash potential is present. Last I knew, It was anything above 301volts. I think that may have been lowered in the last year though.
    The Balaclava is a fire retardant ski mask, that is worn underneath the hood and visor.

    Many people are only familiar with the size of a breaker in their home panel.
    For Rod to be in a 30cal suit he was probably working at least 3 phase 480vac, and those breakers can be the size of a microwave, or small appliance. Our 4160 and 6.9KV breakers are the size of the refrigerator in your house and twice as deep. If the closure mechanism is out for repair, or PM's, a person can easily stand inside one and work the breaker cabinet internals.
    Closing a breaker on a "fault" can literally cause a lethal explosion of gasses, fireballs, and copper plasma, to blow back in the face of the operator. That's why the suit is worn. The temps will exceed 3000degF. in milliseconds. The suit absorbs this transient energy.
    Many years ago we had a fault on 6.9KV breaker at work. Within milliseconds the breaker exploded and blew the door through a solid, 8" thick, reinforced, concrete block wall. There's a lot of energy preset in a breaker cubicle.

    This workplace experience may also help folks here on the board understand some of the answers they're given when electrical questions come up. It can be dangerous, and has to be done correctly. It's more than just 3 colored wires twisted together.
    Last edited by Mike Cutler; 01-19-2019 at 10:41 AM.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

  14. #14
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    It was a breaker, the second one from the top. 120v on one side, 11 volts on the other.

    I got on the phone with the HVAC folks, they gave me the name of their favorite electrician, I got him on the phone Friday PM as he was picking his daughter up from school and an hour later it was fixed. $85 for the trip, $10 for the breaker. I would have preferred both breakers replaced but didn't make that clear and I wasn't there. I'm happy.

    I'm not a novice with electrical work and last night I was talking with friends who have more experience than I do. This arrangement of breaker boxes was new to all of us. The house panel inside is a subpanel of this one. All the 240 breakers are outside the house - maybe that's why it's done this way. I thought you could change breakers with the panel hot as Mike said, but I've never done it and wasn't going to suggest my stepson do it.

    The HVAC guys are not qualified electricians according to their boss, although the last thing they did was install an electrical disconnect at the heat pump. They shut off all the breakers in this box and that's apparently when it failed.

    I probably complicated this myself by wanting the troubleshooting I would have done myself before calling someone. I've had too many bad experiences where the guy who caused the problem knows just the guy to fix it. In this case I believe the HVAC company and the electrician were professional, honest and reasonably priced. It's arguable that the HVAC folks should have gotten the electrician out there on their own and paid for it and maybe they would have. I didn't mind paying for a sevice call and a breaker ($95) and offered to do that without pressing them for it. What I didn't want was one service call to identify the breaker, another call to install the breaker he had to go buy, then start over troubleshooting the stove because that didn't fix the problem.

    I appreciate the help here. It helped me and helped my wife's son at a time when he needed it. Thank you.
    Last edited by Alan Rutherford; 01-19-2019 at 12:32 PM.

  15. #15
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    Alan
    I'm glad everything worked out well and that it was relatively inexpensive.
    It's gotta be difficult trying to help from a distance.

    I'd definitely keep that electricians phone number.
    "The first thing you need to know, will likely be the last thing you learn." (Unknown)

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