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Water tracks on the service entry cable inside the electrical panel (C) Daniel Friedman Electrical Panel Interior Hazards for Electrical & Home Inspectors

  • ELECTRICAL PANEL INTERIOR HAZARDS - CONTENTS: What to Look for Inside the Electrical Panel as Immediate Safety Concerns - Hazards to electrical inspectors that lurk inside the electrical panel. How to spot signs of water leaks into electrical equipment; How to inspect electrical panels for overheating, melting, shorts, arcing - visually; Signs of burned or overheated wires in electrical panels. Identify unsafe or unreliable electrical panel brands, models, or components, FPE, Zinsco, aluminum wiring. How to spot extra-risky equipment or conditions during electrical panel inspections
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about visible dangers & defects inside of the electrical panel
  • REFERENCES
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How to inspect the interior of an electrical panel: this article discusses inspection procedures & safety hazards inside residential electrical panels - special concerns to inspectors and electricians.

We suggests safety procedures for the electrical inspector, home inspector, or other professionals who examine residential electrical systems.



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What to Look for Inside the Electrical Panel as Immediate Safety Concerns to the Inspector

These electrical inspection suggestions are not a complete inventory of all electrical safety procedures nor of all electrical components that should be inspected; these notes focus on identification of conditions that may present special electrical hazards for the electrical inspector. Contact Us by email to suggest changes, corrections, and additions to this material.

Fatal Shock Hazard Warning: Inspecting electrical components and systems risks death by electrocution as well as serious burns or other injuries to the inspector or to others. Do not attempt these tasks unless you are properly trained and equipped.

Water tracks on the service entry cable inside the electrical panel (C) Daniel Friedman Failed electrical neutral caused overheated ground and a shocked homeowner (C) Daniel Friedman

[Click to enlarge any image]

Improperly wired garage sub panel led to electrical shock (C) Daniel Friedman Neutral wire was not connected in this sub panel but it looked as if it was (C) Daniel Friedman

In addition to examining the electrical panel before touching it, looking for dangerous conditions like water, rust, sheet metal screws, rats, and blocking client access, the inspector should also recognize that certain brands or models of electrical equipment are known to be unsafe and may be dangerous to inspect or operate.

Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok equipment includes breakers which remain internally "on" when switched "off", as well as too often failing to trip off in response to an overcurrent, and which have been reported to result in electrical arc explosions when manually or otherwise exercised.

Zinsco: Similar bus burnups and electrical arc explosions have been reported regarding Sylvania/Zinsco electrical panels.

Contact Us by email to add field reports of problems regarding these or other electrical products.

FPE Stab Lok electric panel (C) Daniel Friedman

Opening the electrical panel to examine overcurrent devices - fuses or circuit breakers, is discussed

at ELEC PANEL & GROUND

Inspecting overcurrent devices - visual:

see ELECTRIC PANEL AMPACITY

and ELECTRIC PANEL INSPECTION for detailed procedures. There is a huge amount of information about the electrical system inside of the electrical panels.

Reporting unsafe electrical panels:

see FEDERAL PACIFIC FPE HAZARDS

and see ZINSCO SYLVANIA ELECTRICAL PANELS

Do not try to "exercise" the breakers in these panels. Turning the circuit breaker on and off in an FPE Stab-Lok panel can actually increase the risk of a future failure to trip. We also have field reports of electrical arc explosions when these breakers have been switched on or off. Some examples are included in this series of electrical safety articles.

The inspector is not required to insert anything, finger, screwdriver, probe, into the electrical panel. The required inspection is visual. Observe. However an inspector is of course permitted to perform other tests or services which s/he chooses to provide (presuming s/he is qualified, trained, and that three are no conflicts of interest).

ELECTRICAL INSPECTOR SAFETY PROCEDURES describes important basic safety procedures, clothing, and equipment for home inspectors and electrical inspectors.

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