How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

When should a corroded or damaged electric panel cabinet or disconnect box be replaced?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

They are officially called “electrical enclosures,” and serve two primary purposes: to protect the user of the equipment from electrical shock, and shield the internal components from the environment. There may also be secondary requirements, such as heat dissipation, reduction of electromagnetic radio frequency interference, and prevention of damage of the equipment from electrostatic discharge.

    But, if a panel is not protecting the user of the equipment, and the fingers of any curious children, from electrical shock, and shielding the internal components from the environment, then it should be replaced. The panel shown above is clearly overdue for replacement. It has holes corroded all the way through at the side, a damaged disconnect lever mechanism, and corrosion at wire connections due to water intrusion.

    A panel cabinet that has only minor corrosion should be evaluated to determine the cause of the corroded area, and then repaired, to keep the rust from advancing further. Rain leakage coming down a service mast, for example, can ruin a panel box and circuit breakers if not repaired promptly. The photo below shows two places where rain can come down the service mast: missing cap of weatherhead and missing or deteriorated boot at mast penetration of roof.

    Following the trail of rust-colored drip stains makes that particular problem easy to detect. Location of a panel in an enclosed area with pool equipment or stored pool chemicals can also cause accelerated corrosion due to the chlorine.

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Here’s links to a collection of our other blog posts about ELECTRIC PANELS:

What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel?

 What is a tandem circuit breaker? 

When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

Can an electric panel be located in a closet? 

Can an electric panel be located in a bathroom? 

Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit?

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong?  

What is a split bus electric panel?

How do I identify a combination AFCI (CAFCI) circuit breaker? 

What does a circuit breaker with a yellow or white test button indicate? 

What is the maximum gap allowed between the front of a recessed electric panel box and the wall surface surrounding it? 

What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box?

Why is a fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers? 

Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers? 

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)? 

What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?  

What is the difference between "grounded" and "grounding" electrical conductors? 

What does it mean when a wire is "overstripped" at a circuit breaker?

Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?  

Who is the manufacturer of those "bad" electric panels?

Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle? 

What is a double tap at a circuit breaker?

What is the right electric wire size for a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker? 

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong? 

Why do some breakers in my electric panel have a "TEST" button on them?

What is the right size electric panel for a house? 

• What do I need to know about buying a whole house surge protector? 

What is the maximum allowed height of a circuit breaker (OCPD) above the floor?

• What is the maximum height you can mount an electric panel above the floor? 

• What is the code required clearance in front of an electric panel?

What is the main bonding jumper and where do it find it in an electric panel? 

   Visit our ELECTRIC PANELS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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