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Panelboard Covers


Joe Tedesco
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We always remove the panelboard cover (and all sub-panel covers.) All GFCI's are tested using both the built in test button and a three light tester (go ahead, start railing on me for not using a Sure-test.)

We will not operate any breakers or pull any fuse blocks (just ask Kurt M. why you don't pull fuse blocks.) If a breaker is off we assume it is off for a reason.

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Originally posted by bradfeldt

We always remove the panelboard cover (and all sub-panel covers.) All GFCI's are tested using both the built in test button and a three light tester (go ahead, start railing on me for not using a Sure-test.)

We will not operate any breakers or pull any fuse blocks (just ask Kurt M. why you don't pull fuse blocks.) If a breaker is off we assume it is off for a reason.

Same here, but I can't remember the last time I saw a fuse panel.

I also test trip the AFCI breakers in new construction (vacant house) but I don't trip them in and occupied house because I don't know what's on the circuit.

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We pull every panel cover. I typically do not operate circuit breakers unless the building is unoccupied. GFCIs yes. AFCI's are rare in buildings I inspect. Main cartridge fuses can often be viewed through the little slits in the holder.

Joe, Welcome to TIJ. For those that may not know him, Mr. Tedesco is the most knowledgeable person I have met when it comes to electrical. I have attended more than 1100 hours of continuing ed. and I'd say that Joe's presentation was one of the top three. I hate finding out there's stuff I didn't know.

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Yep,

Same here. Pull the covers to examine the insides of both fuse boxes and panel boards, but don't generally pull fuse blocks.

However, there have been cases where I'd explained to the client that I'd like to know whether the correct fuses were being used, but couldn't tell because they were concealed and I didn't want to pull the block because they have a tendency to crack and come apart. The client would express some concern about that and want to know anyway, so I'd only do it after the client assured me that he or she would take full responsibility for repair of the pull block and box if it fell apart and the homeowner refused to pay for it.

Since none of those ever self destructed one me, I can't say how effective entering into such an unsigned agreement with a client would have worked out. I like to think it would have been okay, but to this date I've been lucky I guess.

About 7 years ago, I took a class here that was given by an electrician who is one of the authors of the Washington State electrical code. He said that in his business most electricians don't trust components that are more than 40 years old. That was all I needed to deal with old panels and such. Since then, when I encounter these old boxes I just tell the client that the thing is at least 40 years old, explain that electricians consider 40-year old electrical components at end of service life, and recommend replacement. I've yet to have had an argument about it with any buyer, seller, realtor or electrician. I think most agree with the idea.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by Joe Tedesco

Do you remove panelboard covers while inspecting their interiors?

Yes. The ASHI and Oregon State Standards of practice require it. But surely you know that.

Do you operate any circuit breakers or GFCI's?

Once again, my association and my State law require me to test GFCIs. They do not require me to operate breakers. In general, I avoid switching breakers either on or off because it can lead to unpleasant consequences.

I read where a home inspector said that it was common for him to remove the pullout type of fuse holder to check sizes of main fuses!

I'm sure that many home inspectors pull fuse blocks. It's a decision each inspector has to make on his own. If you pull the block, you can learn a bit more about the system. Of course there's the risk of damaging the equipment.

There are old and, frankly, tiresome arguments on both sides of all of these issues. I'm much more interested in learning why someone with your breadth and depth of experience in the electrical inspection industry is asking these novice-level questions. What's up?

- Jim Katen, Electrical Forum Moderator

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Originally posted by Jim Katen (in part) I'm much more interested in learning why someone with your breadth and depth of experience in the electrical inspection industry is asking these novice-level questions. What's up?

- Jim Katen, Electrical Forum Moderator

That's a question best asked in private, IMO. Why put a first time poster on the spot?

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Welcome to the board, Joe

Removing 'distribution' covers is a must. Not doing it, is a disservice to your client and a greater liability issue for yourself if you don't.

I like to test GFI outlets with the button on my three prong tester. I've read somewhere that it's a more accurate or complete test, something I couldn't explain and could very well be misinformed but I do it anyways.

Fuse panels are a rarety here (Calgary) as they are being replaced for insurance and lifestyle reasons.

I don't operate or reset tripped circuit breakers (generally). Last week my curiosity got the best part of me and when I reset a breaker it sparked and refused to reset. The seller called me a few days ago on another matter he was correcting and never mentioned that his house had burned down....thank god.

NOW, comes the regional difference- Canadian combination panels are split up into two sections - the service section and the distribution section with two different panel cover(8 screws).

The service portion is covered by a cover, I call a deadfront, usually on top, that covers the SEC and main disconnect breaker. It is protected on all sides so this cover is 'L' shaped with the bottom of the 'L' into the panel. This makes it very dangerous to reinstall as the tolerance is minimal between stuff and the chance for electrocution or loosing your eyesight is great.

In the past, as a matter of course I used to remove this portion of the combination panel but no more.

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Welcome Joe.

I take the panelcover off if at all possible, but I've seen a few that were just flat out inaccessable.

I don't operate breakers unless I feel it's imperative for some reason (safety concerns, etc.).

I wouldn't consider pulling a fuse block unless a fire was starting from it.

Brian G.

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I've been instructed by a 20 year electrician, who is also in the Home Inspection Business, that he never takes the cover off of a Federal Pacific. He's said the breakers have a nasty habit of falling out. I've followed suit, and have pointed this out in the report. As others have said, I would be concerned about what's on that might be accidentally shut down-clocks, computers, answering machines, etc.

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