I got shocked removing a service panel cover due to sloppy electrical workmanship

Ray Wilson's picture
Home Inspection and sloppy electrical workmanship

Many people renovate their houses without permits, and do things that can cause safety and accessibility issues.

For example. adding a closet where one did not exist previously comes to mind. I see service panels that are difficult to remove the cover due to a closet that was added during a renovation. Now the service panel is located in this closet, but you cannot put a service panel in a closet, so this is not allowed in construction, but I see it.

Moving the service panel to an exterior wall that now has a shed on this outside wall, and this panel, although protected from the weather, is located in the shed. Well this is also something I have seen, but this is not allowed to be done.

Building a bar or laundry/linen closet in a basement is nice, but when you now have a narrow basement hallway that you must walk sideways into to get to the service panel, and you cannot stand in front of it to remove the cover is something you cannot do as you need 36 inches in front of all service panels. But I see it.

Have you ever been shocked just by removing a service panel cover? I have. It sucks.

One of my big pet peeves is sloppy wiring in a service panel that indicates to me a licensed electrician did not do the work (or sometimes DID do the work). Because of sloppy workmanship in one panel at one of my inspections, there was a wire pinched between a cover screw and the side of the panel box (see picture). I began to remove the screw, the screw bit into the wire and shorted it out, and I got shocked!

Obviously I lived through it, but boy was I angry

Electrical codes exist for a reason, so when you do these things, and a home inspector comes in and sites these issues above as serious issues, he/she is right. This cannot be done. But we see this stuff all the time.

Ray Wilson is a Home Inspector, covering all of Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk), the 5 boroughs of NYC and now upstate NY. For any home inspection related questions he can be reached at Meticulous Home Inspection Corporation.

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