The Importance of Antioxidant Paste

By
Home Inspector with Fort Worth Home Inspectors - Green Tag Inspections
https://activerain.com/droplet/5gxK

I performed an inspection yesterday on a early 1980s home and found overheating of the main service conductors in the main breaker panel due to no antioxidant paste to the aluminum conductors. As you can see, the left terminal has oxidized and caused enough resistance to cause it to get very hot and melt the insulation. Of course I stressed heavily in the report to my customer to have this repaired, but also felt I needed to let the seller's agent know also so she could notify the current owners of it's condition for their safety and in case the sale didn't go through. She returned my call today and acted like I was being an alarmist because she had always viewed the antioxidant paste issue as something that is a nit picky item that we chose to throw in our reports. I emailed her the photo and I think she now understands the importance of this paste.

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Ambassador
972,590
Steve Shatsky
Dallas, TX

Hi Kent... Thanks for sharing this.  I never fully understood the issue with the antioxidant paste until I saw your picture.  That pretty much says it all to me.  I appreciate the education!

Sep 11, 2008 02:53 AM #1
Rainer
3,745
Angela Reeves
West Coast Staging - Coquitlam, BC

I've never even heard of antioxidant paste before, but it appears to be very important!   Looks like a large potential fire hazard!  Great information as always - thanks!

Sep 11, 2008 04:53 AM #2
Rainer
86,824
Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks
The Parks Consulting Group, LLC - Circleville, OH
Inspector Mike

Good call.

Was that conductor all the way in?

 

Sep 11, 2008 09:31 AM #3
Rainer
12,676
Kent Keith
Fort Worth Home Inspectors - Green Tag Inspections - Fort Worth, TX
Home Inspector Fort Worth TX-

Mike,

Yes, it was....the melted insulation shrunk causing more of the conductor to be exposed.

Kent Keith

Fort Worth Home Inspector

Sep 11, 2008 10:07 AM #4
Rainmaker
176,535
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

Good stuff,

My neighbor had a garage fire from the aluminum entrance wires got loose and hot.  (He was able to catch it before it spread to the home) 

 Even with anti oxidant paste it is a good idea to check the connections to make sure everything is tight.

Sep 13, 2008 08:21 AM #5
Rainmaker
176,535
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

Was this panel further evaluated and was there an issue with too many amps on that side?

Sep 13, 2008 08:21 AM #6
Rainer
86,824
Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks
The Parks Consulting Group, LLC - Circleville, OH
Inspector Mike

Please do not check those lugs. They are HOT.

Say WHAT? Too many amps on that side???

It is hard to 'load' one leg of a panel in a residential application.

I think it was a loose connection.

Sep 13, 2008 08:46 AM #7
Rainer
12,676
Kent Keith
Fort Worth Home Inspectors - Green Tag Inspections - Fort Worth, TX
Home Inspector Fort Worth TX-

I think is it a combination of a possible loose connection along with oxidation. If you look closely on the top of the connection lug, you can see a powdery substance which I think is oxidation from the heating of the aluminum. As far as a loose connection, if you look you will notice the wire in this connector is not a flattened out as the right one, which would make you think that it is not properly tightened, but the lug's screw appears to have the same amount of thread going inward. In any case, it needs to be repaired as soon as possible.

Sep 13, 2008 09:00 AM #8
Rainmaker
176,535
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

I have seen an electrician's home that ONE side of the service was at 520 Degrees F.  Because he had put BOTH legs of his new hottub on one side.

Sep 13, 2008 09:04 AM #9
Rainer
86,824
Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks
The Parks Consulting Group, LLC - Circleville, OH
Inspector Mike

Jim

Let me understand you.

Was this a 220 breaker or two 110 breakers?

If a 220 breaker two legs are used.

If two 110 breakers on the same leg one of the breakers should have tripped.

Sep 13, 2008 09:34 AM #10
Rainmaker
176,535
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

It was a real custom job.  It was two 110 on the same leg.  and one did not trip until I noticed the smell of melting insulation and shut it down.

Sep 13, 2008 09:49 AM #11
Rainmaker
478,693
Ricki Eichler McCallum
CastNet Realty - Corpus Christi, TX
Broker,GRI,ABR, e-Pro, TAHS

Very interesting post and comments, thanks for helping educate us.

Sep 16, 2008 03:16 AM #12
Anonymous
Dee

Does anyone know how much does it usually cost to have a certified electrician come over & apply the anti-oxidant paste where needed?

Jun 22, 2011 05:37 AM #13
Anonymous
Clint

This whole thing does not make any sense. Careful where you get your info from. ALWAYS consult a licenced electrician( not a helper either) Two legs of the same phase will not trip the breaker as they will register 0 volts between each other. The hot tub WOULD NOT operate at 110 unless it was a 110 hot tub but that would be a small unit (inflatable usually) but that would only require one wire and 15 amps max . Hot tubs only pull 30 to 50 amps so that would not be near enough to over load 1 phase . The insulation of the wire is rated to 194 degrees max so it would have smoked at that temperature that is assuming that the breaker did not trip at 150 or 200 amps as designed and would be very rare.

Aug 12, 2018 01:33 PM #14
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Kent Keith

Home Inspector Fort Worth TX-
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