By Nick Gromiko
Electrical panels are boxes that house circuit breakers, which are are safety devices that stop the electrical current if it exceeds the safe level for some portion of the home electrical system.
Many people, even experienced electricians, have been killed or seriously injured while opening electrical panels. In 1991, an Atlanta electrician was killed while attempting to inspect a panel that had a faulty spring-loaded bus-bar assembly. Apparently, the bus-bar was moved while the electrician was opening the panel, causing an arc and a lethal electrical explosion. Generally, two factors contribute to these situations: defective components and complacency.
Inspectors must be aware that all forms of electrical inspections, especially electrical panel inspections, are inherently dangerous. Practice calm, steady movements and learn to avoid distractions. A sudden flash, shout or movement could cause an inspector to lunge and touch an electrically live and dangerous component. Advise your client that they should never remove an electrical panel cover themselves, as they should leave this duty to InterNACHI inspectors or qualified electricians. Before touching the electrical panel, inspectors should ask themselves the following questions:
While removing the panel cover, inspectors should:
Inspectors can check for the following defective conditions during an electrical panel inspection:
In summary, electrical panels are potentially dangerous and should be inspected with care.