Molded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCB)
Maintenance Of Molded Case Circuit Breakers (MCCB)

The maintenance of circuit breakers deserves special consideration because of their importance for routine switching and for protection of other equipment.

Electric transmission system breakups and equip­ment destruction can occur if a circuit breaker fails to operate because of a lack of preventive maintenance.

The need for maintenance of circuit breakers is often not obvious as circuit breakers may remain idle, either open or closed, for long periods of time.

Breakers that remain idle for 6 months or more should be made to open and close several times in succession to verify proper operation and remove any accumulation of dust or foreign material on moving parts and contacts.

Frequency Of Maintenance

Molded case circuit breakers are designed to require little or no routine maintenance throughout their normal life­ time. Therefore, the need for preventive maintenance will vary depending on operating conditions. As an accumulation of dust on the latch surfaces may affect the operation of the breaker, molded case circuit breakers should be exercised at least once per year.

Routine trip testing should be performed every 3 to 5 years.


Routine Maintenance Tests

Routine maintenance tests enable personnel to determine if breakers are able to perform their basic circuit protective functions. The following tests may be performed during routine maintenance and are aimed at assuring that the breakers are functionally operable.

The following tests are to be made only on breakers and equipment that are deenergized.

Insulation Resistance Test

MegohmmeterA megohmmeter may be used to make tests between phases of opposite polarity and from current-carrying parts of the circuit breaker to ground. A test should also be made between the line and load terminals with the breaker in the open position. Load and line conductors should be dis­ connected from the breaker under insulation resistance tests to prevent test mesurements from also showing resistance of the attached circuit.

Resistance values below 1 megohm are considered unsafe and the breaker should be inspected for pos­ sible contamination on its surfaces.

Milivolt Drop Test

A millivolt drop test can disclose several abnor­ mal conditions inside a breaker such as eroded contacts, contaminated contacts, or loose internal connec­ tions. The millivolt drop test should be made at a nominal direct-current volt­ age at 50 amperes or 100 amperes for large breakers, and at or below rating for smaller breakers.

The millivolt drop is compared against manufacturer’s data for the breaker being tested.

Connections Test

The connections to the circuit breaker should be inspected to determine that a good joint is present and that overheating is not occurring. If overheating is indi­ cated by discoloration or signs of arcing, the connections should be re­ moved and the connecting surfaces cleaned.

Overload tripping test

The proper action of the overload tripping components of the circuit breaker can be verified by applying 300 percent of the breaker rated continuous current to each pole. The significant part of this test is the automatic opening of the circuit breaker and not tripping times as these can be greatly affected by ambient conditions and test condi­ tions.

Mechanical operation

The mechanical operation of the breaker should be checked by turning the breaker on and off several times.

SOURCE: Hydroelectric Research And Technical Services Group

About Author //


Edvard Csanyi

Edvard - Electrical engineer, programmer and founder of EEP. Highly specialized for design of LV high power busbar trunking (<6300A) in power substations, buildings and industry fascilities. Designing of LV/MV switchgears.Professional in AutoCAD programming and web-design.Present on


  1. Sallam M.M.
    Nov 20, 2015

    Is there any tests to be carried out after clearing short circuits?

  2. […] should be in accordance with Table 100.12 unless otherwise specified by manufacturer.Microhm or millivolt drop values shall not exceed the high levels of the normal range as indicated in the manufacturer’s […]

  3. […] (short circuit or o verload) without injury to itself when properly applied within its rating.A molded case circuit breaker (MCCB) irrelevant of the manufacturer comprises of:The molded case (frame)Operating mechanismArc […]

  4. […] achieved by duplicating all circuits and substation equipment such that following a fault or during maintenance connections remain available. This would be extremely costly. Switching schemes discussed in this […]

  5. […] program should be to recognize these factors and provide means for correcting them.A good organized maintenance program can minimize accidents, reduce unplanned shutdowns and lenghten the mean time between failures of […]

  6. Edvard
    Oct 27, 2011

    I agree Jomaber! It also depends on environment of switchboard, if it is mostly clean during year, than 5 years as you said is quite enough, but if it is aggresive environment like paper industry and similar, than it should be more often.

    What is your expirience regarding maintenance of MCCBs on dirty environments?

  7. Jomaber A. Gales
    Oct 27, 2011

    well, i agree with the mccb maintenance as stated in your article. but it will be every 5 yrs. it is as per my experiences.

  8. […] and MaintenanceThese are regular costs that occur on a yearly basis and include transmission line maintenance, general administration, repairs and contingencies. Operation and maintenance cost most importantly […]

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