Danger Service Panel

Ok so the Realtor would like to know if a licensed electrician would be willing to write a statement regarding the danger of this service panel from what they see in the photos.

The seller says there is nothing wrong and is threatening to sue my client for backing out of the purchase.

I called the panel out as overloaded and requires replacement





Stand by your report. Let the agents hire people to “write statements”.

I wouldn’t have used the term over loaded but maybe you are qualified to say that.

It definitely needs repairs.

In VA, a seller sued a buyer for backing out based on the home inspection report, and not having a licensed HVAC technician confirm the inspectors findings. The seller won.

I would call out as in need of corrections by a qualified professional.
Let the pro make the determination on replacement and cost.
Nice triple, quad triple taps!!

It may not be overloaded at all, but double, triple, and quadruple taps are not acceptable.

They don’t even need an electrician to verify that, just a small amount of common sense should suffice

Playing a devil’s advocate here…

It is incorrect to call this panel “overloaded”, unless you do load calcs and measure amp draw on each circuit, which is outside our SOP as HI’s.

Multiple taps are EASILY fixed (by an electrician, of course) by pigtailing a single conductor to the breaker’s terminal, and connecting all the conductors to the end of that pigtail with a wirenut. Quick and easy.
When it’s all said and done, if the cross-section of the panel is not filled by wires and splices by more than 40% (which is not an issue 9 out of 10 times), no problem there either.
What else is there… Missing NM clamps. No big deal.
This panel is far from what I would call a disaster.
At least, I see nothing that would warrant a complete replacement
I can understand the seller’s ire over a scuttled sale.

You cannot say a panel is overloaded based on a visual inspection. A load calculation is the proper way to determine if the service is adequately sized.

There are issues like the multiple wires on the breaker that should be addressed.

Actually conductors can occupy up to 40% of the gutter space. Conductors, splices and taps can occupy up to 75% of the gutter space. {312.8}

Thanks for setting me straight there.
I always thought that 312.8 said 40% for wires AND splices, and in my apprenticing days I used that as a guideline when working on panels.
75% would have made my life easier.

That panel is a fire waiting to happen. There is already visible heat damage around the upper quadruple tap, that is enough evidence. The term overloaded isn’t so much the right choice of words to use, but more misuse of connections. The issue is the breaker lugs are designed only for one conductor. Having more than one means the lug cant adequately handle them all resulting in poor contact. Poor contact results in excessive heat, which can lead to fire.

A few lesser issues are no clamps and conductors not in conduit.

I can certainly understand the buyers want out. The seller can sue if he wants to, any competent electrician and home inspector would say the panel’s triple and quad taps are a fire hazard with one already in the making.

An electrician will need to have it fixed. In the least combining the taps in a j box above the panel or wire nutting the the taps together, replacing any heat damaged breakers, adding clamps and getting the wire in conduit where needed.

It may also require a sub panel or new panel. I only say because the multi taps might be from new circuits added on to the house over the years. If thats the case more breakers would be needed to prevent the additions from overloading the existing breakers. 12 spaces is not enough for most houses today. The 100 amp service however is most likely enough capacity though, just more spaces are needed for those new circuits.

Thinking back on this you guys are correct the word overloaded as I intended it may not come across as it should. poor choice of wording on my part.

Here is what was the full wording placed in the report.

The licensed electricians recommendation came at a $4000 replacement cost. The Seller would only alot for $600, so Buyers walked.

I don’t see the need for the cables to be in conduit.

Instead of calling for replacement, call out the mechanical defects, multi taps, scorched wire if its there etc… Then go with: “I recommend repair as prescribed by a licensed, qualified electrician.” If he says replace it, fine, if he preforms a repair and says its good, it is on his license now.

That’s right. All you need to say is “it should be evaluated and corrected by a qualified electrician”. By saying it needs replaced, you have made a diagnosis. It sucks, but those simple words can get you in trouble, as you are finding out.

Sometimes I’ll stretch and write “should be repaired or replaced by a qualified contractor”.

Choose your written words carefully for your report. They can and will be used against you if anyone gets the chance, or if they find out you carry E and O!!

The point that I am trying to make, (and that some of other posters here made as well), is that we cannot prescribe a replacement (or any solution), especially based on a visual inspection alone.
We have to call out what we see, and leave the speculation and prescribing the fixes out of it as much as possible.
An average electrician will invite a panicked homeowner with open arms and charge 2-4 K for a replacement, just because the HI used the “r” word.
Why talk the customer into a smaller job, when they are already scared into paying for a big one?
Sure, multiple taps ARE a fire hazard, BUT, if the HO finds an honest sparky, the sparky may just determine that the only issue to be addressed are the just the multiple taps, which is easily solved by pigtailing.
You don’t need to replace the panel if the loads are still within specs.
A sparky can determine that.

Top left, first pic, what looks like 2 red and 1 black wire leaving an opening. My guess would be loose THW, THHN ect if Im seeing it right.

4K for a panel change out is outrageous!

All this fuss over a panel.
Looks to be out of room to me. I would say some of the circuits themselves would be “overloaded”

I personally would have stated a few of the visible defects found and that the panel appears to have been out of roof for the cirucits needed. Whats so hard about having an electrician go look and say its crap also.

THis must be the year of the crazys. All these stories lately about butt hurt people going to sue over their feelings.

How would you know the circuits are overloaded without seeing what and how many fixtures are on them? I don’t understand.

One way I would determine that fact simply by looking at this panel is.

breakers consist of
1 30 amp
the rest are 20 amp.

The home has
Refridg, Stove, dishwasher, Water heater, Furnace, AC Unit
These items should all be on their own circuits. (there is possibility of overload)

Now you have a single 30 amp breaker and you need to feed
AC, Dryer, and garage sub panel. (Another possibility of overload)

Garage sub panel has potential of 60 amp. that was tapped from the 30 amp breaker.