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Corrosion In Service Panel


dtontarski
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Would someone be willing to share some boilerplate information on how to report on rust and corrosion on the interior of a service panel? These photos appear to indicate that water has followed the SEC into the panel - resulting in rust on many of the breaker terminals and on the panel enclosure, and oxidation on the aluminum conductors.

What is correct - to simply detect and recommend immediate further evaluation? Or do I go beyond this and state it needs to be cleaned or replaced? (yes - I recognize that there are additional issues that require corrections)

Thanks.

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In doing electrical work over the years I have found panels in this condition where you could turn the breaker off and it would not disengage the connection, leaving power on. Breaking open the offending breakers you often find them sopping wet and heavily corroded. When I find a panel in this condition I typically sum it up as such

"Water intrusion in the electrical panel has caused corrosion of panel components, main feed connections and breaker terminals. Water intrusion into breakers is obvious. Have all panel components checked & cleaned and all breakers checked for proper function, replacing any damaged components. Investigate and repair source of water intrusion to prevent further damage. Have all work done only by a Licensed Electrician."

I also typically know I'm about to find this condition during the outside inspection when I see the condition of the seal around the SEC into the top of the meter base or an old Loomex SEC. If that is the obvious source of water I recommend the meter be pulled to check the terminals in the meter socket for corrosion. In the past I have found they can be in worse shape then the panel.

Depending on the seller/sellers agent I may be more explicit about the licensed electrician and may also recommend I be asked to return to re-inspect the repairs. All too often some idiot seller will call me and say... "well, all I have to do is take a wire brush to the terminals, right?"

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"Water has entered the panelboard cabinet causing rust and corrosion of the cabinet and the electrical devices inside. Water inside the cabinet and the damage it causes to the devices increase the risk of electrocution and fire. Have a qualified electrician determine how water is getting into the cabinet, determine the extent of the damage, and make all necessary repairs."

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When I opened the panel I found rust and associated water damage to it and it's components. Have an electrician replace the panel and all damaged components. I would also have the electrician to locate the source of the water entry and correct it so that this does not happen again.

Simple and to the point.

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Originally posted by dtontarski

Would someone be willing to share some boilerplate information on how to report on rust and corrosion on the interior of a service panel?

I wouldn't use boilerplate for something like this. Corroded panels are fairly rare and every time I see them, the situation is slightly different. By the time I nudge the boilerplate to fit the situation, I could've just written something off the cuff.

I don't mean to preach, but I think most home inspectors lean too hard on their boilerplate.

. . . What is correct - to simply detect and recommend immediate further evaluation? Or do I go beyond this and state it needs to be cleaned or replaced? (yes - I recognize that there are additional issues that require corrections)

Thanks.

Personally, I'd stress that any breaker that's gotten wet should be replaced and I'd give no quarter on that point. As for the other parts, whether they should be replaced or not depends on how bad the corrosion is. Usually, no one can tell how bad things are until someone starts cleaning stuff.

From what I can see in your picture, that panel is toast.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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I see corroded panels often around Boston. Checking the meter base box interior upstream of such a panel is important as it can be as bad or worse. A local three family burned due to a short at a meter box because of water penetration over many years. The fire progressed up the siding, to the soffit, through it and into the attic and took the place out. Get your hands on a 'corroded-looking' breaker someday and take it apart. That will learn ya.. (The inside is usually much worse than it appears on the outside).

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Originally posted by ozofprev

Originally posted by Jim Katen

I don't mean to preach, but I think most home inspectors lean too hard on their boilerplate.

Yes, yes, YES!!!id="maroon">

It's not just that a lot of HIs rely too much on boilerplate. It's that they rely too much on poorly-written wretched canned boilerplate.

With the exception of the boilerplate that comes with Mark Cramer's IR software, I've never seen HI boilerplate that was worth using. All I've seen is soft-sell, misleading, mostly-illiterate gobbledegook. It does much more harm than good. ("Worthless pablum," as described in Herner vs. HouseMaster.)

All my way of saying: if an HI just has to rely on point-and-click boilerplate, he should re-write his canned boilerplate so that it conforms to his voice, and his part of the world.

Better yet, just erase the canned boilerplate, and write your own. And run it through a pro editor before you start clicking it into reports.

Any two-finger typist should be able to condemn this electrical panel with about 30 seconds' worth of writing. Takes that long to locate the boilerplate.

WJ

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I agree with everyone's comments above. Definitely recommend a licensed electrician evaluate and replace what is rusty and may not safely function.

Every so often I also run into panels (they always seem to be Pushmatic ones!) that the bozo painter forgot to install the panel cover or at least cardboard over the panel before spraying the room. You remove the deadfront cover and almost have to laugh. Like evidence of water and seeing rust in the panel, when we see paint inside the panel, best bet is to have a licensed electrician evaluate it for our liability and the safety of our clients. Like rust, who knows how deep the paint got and may prevent a proper connection.

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