A grand for two circuit breakers?
May 25, 2008 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Electrical Estimate Filter: Short version is, is $1100 USD a proper estimate for simply replacing a 125 amp breaker and a 60 amp breaker in a standard residential breaker box?

I live in Las Vegas, in a house I rent. Last year, the 125 amp breaker would trip seemingly at random during the summer. The only consistent pattern was that the air conditioner was running, which is almost always the case. This year, the same thing has begun already, despite a decrease in household load. While all of the appliances are electric, we don't run them during the day, so peak load is AC compressor and refrigerator compressor coming on at the same time while 2 computers are running.

The AC unit was inspected by the company that installed it 3 years ago, and they found no problems. The electrician that was hired to come out says the 60 amp breaker for the AC unit will not trip, and the 125 amp breaker also needs to be replaced. However, he then went on to blame the AC unit for tripping things anyway. He seemed reluctant to discuss details with me (as I rent), but the quote he left behind states they will charge $420 to replace the 60 amp breaker, and $680 to replace the 125.

This pricing seems excessive to me, especially if it's done on one service call. I'm hoping for advice on how to continue. It's not my money, in the end, as the landlord should be covering any expenses, but I want to save the landlord any unnecessary expense if possible.
posted by Rendus to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
If you're the one making the purchase decision, find somebody who will discuss the details with you.
posted by winston at 12:54 PM on May 25, 2008

Are you responsible for arranging the repairs? If so, get a second, third, and (if necessary) fourth estimate before doing anything. My experiences with every kind of household repair/improvement suggest that prices fluctuate insanely from business to business--the estimates for removing a tree in my backyard, for example, ranged from $700 to over $2K.

Also, that "should" in "the landlord should be covering any expenses" concerns me. S/he does know what's happening, right?
posted by thomas j wise at 1:02 PM on May 25, 2008

Response by poster: Well, 'should' was out of mild concern that they'd hesitate to do the repairs, or otherwise try something. I've had bad experiences in this regard in the past with other landlords. The landlord has handled arranging repairs, I'm just boggling over the quote for the most part.

As an update: The repairs have already been authorized and an appointment scheduled, so I suppose this downgrades to Idle Curiosity Filter more than anything.
posted by Rendus at 1:06 PM on May 25, 2008

Best answer: $150 .....125amp circuit breaker
$250 .....not electricuting self during installation
$250 .....installing breaker to not kill others


Although it does seem a bit pricy, and installing a circuit breaker is trivially easy if you know how, the main thing one pays for is the knowledge. It's not the sort of thing you want "mostly right".
posted by lothar at 1:28 PM on May 25, 2008

To lothar's comment add $500 for fixing the ass-up of the first installation. No one likes to work on something that's already jacked.

Also, it depends a lot on how difficult it is to access the locations. My house is on a raised foundation and has an easily accessible attic. That cuts a lot of repairs costs in half since it's super easy to run cable/pipe, etc.

Lastly, is the construction market still hot in Las Vegas? If so, qualified electricians may be in short supply. With the real estate bust, I'm not sure if that's still an issue.
posted by 26.2 at 2:02 PM on May 25, 2008

As a licensed electrician, I would consider that a high estimate. Variables could include difficulty getting matching breakers if the house is somewhat older, and as mentioned prior, ease of access.
posted by scottymac at 4:38 PM on May 25, 2008

Also a licenesed electrician, second the probable too high, and I'm in Manhattan.

That said, scottymac hits it right with the possible variables. There is a type of panel/breaker maker called Federal Pacific (FPE), widely used in the past that does not exist anymore and the Three Phase replacement breakers are astronomical. We've changed whole panels loaded with breakers cheaper than getting two of the larger three phase FPE type breakers.

Considering your location might be an issue travel-wise and the type of breaker it is quite possible. Get a couple of other estimates and vet them.
posted by Kensational at 6:38 PM on May 25, 2008

I got 200 amp service and a new breaker box for $1300 in Baltimore, so that seems pretty high.
posted by electroboy at 12:59 AM on May 26, 2008

i know this is an old story but since the 125amp breaker is tripping maybe its not the airconditioner put too many things running on that 125 amp breaker?
posted by majortom1981 at 8:19 AM on June 3, 2008

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