A/C Breaker Box Disassembly?

Sometimes you see a simple disconnect at the A/C compressor. Sometimes, however, it is a single breaker box.

When it’s a breaker box, do you remove the dead-front cover and inspect for proper wiring or a burned breaker? I haven’t been, thinking it’s a waste of time. Starting to wonder about it though.

I have only come across one…but then again, I’m a newbie…

I took it apart and glad I did…found much corrosion on the wiring at the breaker…loose connection as it turns out.

BUT…it was a pain in the arse to get the cover back on…it was bent to shiite…

Yes, I find many problems in those, low voltage wires present, missing knockouts, burned wires, loose grounds.

On newer/large homes they have two breakers for two units and sometimes the breakers are serving the wrong unit. ie. 35 amp for the 2.5 ton and 25 amp for the 4 ton.

Many are located in the crawlspace and are rusted out.
I find many in crawlspaces that are FPE too.

If there’s a single breaker or twenty breakers within a panel, I open it up, Period.

Bruce, do you disasemble boxes inside a crawl space???

Doesn’t the breaker need to be close to the condenser unit?

Yes…within sight of the unit.


i wish i took a pictur of this one, but i’ll describe it the best i can.
no label on the metal box, looked like an old main shut off but had no handle. it was in line with the fuse box, so i unscrewed it and tried to open it. after prying it with my screwdriver i noticed a small black mark at the edge of the cover. i was kinda sceptical so i recommended an electrician look at it since he was coming over anyway to wire up a dedicated circut for the a/c. 3 days later the client called me back to tell me that he came by, did the job, and while the power was off, he popped the cover. and to his surprise the cover was welded to the box by an arced out 240 hot that was pinched by the last guy who put it back on. that’s when i realized how close i came to an unwanted shock theropy treatment. phew.

I open almost all of them.
Sometimes if it is a rusted FPE I do not open it.
Or if other electrical issues are in the crawl I just recommend it be checked too.

If you have a re-inspect, you have to open it if you previously said to have it checked. Another reason to charge plenty for re-inspects especially when you have to crawl and enter the attic.

I would not open a main service panel before I would not open an HVAC panel. Connections in the HVAC panel or generally not done by the electrician who wired the house and often the work is completed after the electrical inspection and never gets a close look from the municipal inspector. I would say 80% of the burnt panels I find are at the HVAC unit panels outdoors, downstream from the breaker.

The amperage rating in the HVAC panel may only be 30 to 50 amps but the inductive startup load through this panel may be eight times that (that’s why the breakers must be rated for HVAC use). The HVAC panel gets quite a workout!