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Removing the deadfront panel cover...


Rob Amaral
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Today I had a goodie... 4 yr old condo unit, found the subpanel/load center behind a framed print (of course) and carefully removed the deadfront panel cover screws. No problem whatsoever.

Made a few obs, then in process of replacing it, I had to line up the cover holes with the enclosure holes and in doing so, I touch the cover to the drywall screw that these folks hung the picture on.

Pop!

Ground fault... burned itself clear. No CB tripping. Stupid me didn't 'line up' the wood screw with the circuits exiting the top of the enclosure. Movement was just enough to complete the circuit.

Deadfront screw I was installing welded itself to the cover and that was that...

Of course, it's a CYA brou-ha-ha (who came up with that word anyways?) and I spend almost 20 mins 'putting the fire out' and thanks be to God, I digital-camera every step. Also, the owner's son is an electrician and we got him on the horn and all is A-OK.

Moral: "Think" and either wear glasses (I do) or squint (I do that too) when removing OR replacing the deadfront panel screws. (Blunt end screws too...no wires in the way behind them).

One of those 'teachable' moments..

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When I remove a dead front cover and find the fasteners to be pointed rather than blunt I don't reinstall the cover. I simply leave the cover and the fasteners in proximity to the panel, tape a piece of cardboard or whatever over the panel, and inform the owner of the situation. If you re-install the pointed fasteners you are, in effect, condoning the defective condition you are (I hope) reporting.

NORM SAGE

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Originally posted by Norm

When I remove a dead front cover and find the fasteners to be pointed rather than blunt I don't reinstall the cover. I simply leave the cover and the fasteners in proximity to the panel, tape a piece of cardboard or whatever over the panel, and inform the owner of the situation. If you re-install the pointed fasteners you are, in effect, condoning the defective condition you are (I hope) reporting.

NORM SAGE

See, now if you had a nice big box of panel cover screws, you wouldn't have to bother with all that fuss.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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These deadfront screws were the proper screws and the fault did not occur due to these screws touching any wires within. It was the drywall screw above... I check wires that are behind the deadfront screws once the cover is off and if any are close to the screws (no matter if blunt or pointed or whatever), I move them away. I never leave a 'deadfront' panel cover off. I can see the judge now: "Why do they call this cover the 'dead'front panel cover sir?"

The glasses and the 'Clint Squint" works (I do have goggles and have used them in rare cases...too much...too much).

I once had a deadfront panel cover screw 'bite' into a wire in the panel while removing it. Brand new house. Builder's electrician was still on the premises and came down with profuse apologies...

The only other 'welding' incident I had (yesterday's was only the third in 8 years..not bad) was when I was a new guy and I was checking a 1950's vintage 60A panel and I had to stand on a milk crate. I was scraping the tinned-copper of a 110V circuit (teaching myself..!) to expose the copper and I heard a noise behind me. I turned and the blade of the screwdriver angled over to the neutral terminal. Nice light show and I almost fell off the milk crate/ That was a hell of an interesting moment! No one was there (vacant house, I had the lockbox). Hell of show and hell of a lesson.

I know go into every inspection with one of those toolbox-stool thingies so I can stand on it. That toolbox stool has paid off so many times. (Stains on ceilings, carrying those 'extra deadfront panel cover screws'...yep....I have about 20 assorted and sundry attached to a pot magnet...).

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Originally posted by Rob Amaral

These deadfront screws were the proper screws and the fault did not occur due to these screws touching any wires within. It was the drywall screw above... I check wires that are behind the deadfront screws once the cover is off and if any are close to the screws (no matter if blunt or pointed or whatever), I move them away. I never leave a 'deadfront' panel cover off. I can see the judge now: "Why do they call this cover the 'dead'front panel cover sir?"

The glasses and the 'Clint Squint" works (I do have goggles and have used them in rare cases...too much...too much).

I once had a deadfront panel cover screw 'bite' into a wire in the panel while removing it. Brand new house. Builder's electrician was still on the premises and came down with profuse apologies...

The only other 'welding' incident I had (yesterday's was only the third in 8 years..not bad) was when I was a new guy and I was checking a 1950's vintage 60A panel and I had to stand on a milk crate. I was scraping the tinned-copper of a 110V circuit (teaching myself..!) to expose the copper and I heard a noise behind me. I turned and the blade of the screwdriver angled over to the neutral terminal. Nice light show and I almost fell off the milk crate/ That was a hell of an interesting moment! No one was there (vacant house, I had the lockbox). Hell of show and hell of a lesson.

I know go into every inspection with one of those toolbox-stool thingies so I can stand on it. That toolbox stool has paid off so many times. (Stains on ceilings, carrying those 'extra deadfront panel cover screws'...yep....I have about 20 assorted and sundry attached to a pot magnet...).

Rob,

Thanks for sharing your electrical experiences. I will advise all the clients I refer your way to wear safety goggles, thick rubber boots and thick rubber gloves.

Dennis

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Originally posted by Norm

When I remove a dead front cover and find the fasteners to be pointed rather than blunt I don't reinstall the cover. I simply leave the cover and the fasteners in proximity to the panel, tape a piece of cardboard or whatever over the panel, and inform the owner of the situation. If you re-install the pointed fasteners you are, in effect, condoning the defective condition you are (I hope) reporting.

NORM SAGE

If the issue is safety, I think everyone's risk increases exponentially by leaving the cover off.

Also, I don't understand how a judge might think I'm condoning it, if I simply put it back and condemn it in my report.

I understand where you're coming from, Norm, but this sounds like a good one to run past your attorney,

Jim

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