Electrical panel popping

Did an inspection the other day I took off the dead front cover to the electrical panel and inspected the interior. Found many things wrong with it.

While putting the panel back on I could hear popping inside of the panel. I removed the screws and called over the sellers rep and buyers. I informed them that they needed to contact an electrician immediately and have them check for, and correct the problem. Since it was the weekend and she did not want to pay for the over time she said she would wait till Monday before doing anything.

I told her that it was an immediate safety issue and I did not want to leave the panel off.

Have any of you run across similar situations? How have you handled this situation.

Hammer:shock: :wha?:


Usually that would be caused by a loose connection probably arching because the connection is loose and needs to be re-tightened.

I think you did the right thing and said about all you could say, in the end they have to make the choice and live with the conditions of that choice.

You noticed a problem, you bought it to the attention of the right people and gave your solution…they decided to worry about the dollar and wait…again about all you can do.

Yes, that’s about all you can do. Let them know…what they do is up to them…but I would note it in my report including who I told about it.:wink:

No, that is not all you can do.

Shut down the system!
Do not leave till it is done.

Can you spell NEGLEGENCE?

You are an expert in every lawyers eyes.
Don’t shut down the service and you can spend you life paying for it.

I had a call today.
Homeowner wants me to re-install the main panel before the electrician shows up. Pointed and drill tip screws, cover blocked by the garage door. Told the Agent, No Way will I or should the owner mess with this panel.
Daughter hung up on three of my calls!
Was not the Prince of her dreams, I guess!

If any of you find a safety issue that is of major concern.
You had better shut down the system. If the owner elects to turn it back on, so be it!

This is an issue that is not covered in any SOP. But, you had better deal with it, or pay.

… hmmm, too easy!

What about Grandma in the iron lung? Or Dad’s thesis on the computer that he hasn’t saved? What about the freezer and refrigerator full of food?

I hate to be a prick but if you can’t figure out what is popping, why do you think you can inspect live a panel safely and effectively in the first place?
You might have just dislodged a breaker.
As Hipocrates says, “first do no harm”

Can you spell NEGLEGENCE? quote]

Yes, I can…N-E-G-L**-I-**G-E-N-C-E–negligence…

Now, where’s my prize???

Yes, I have had this happen all too often. The first remarks I hear from the seller is that they didn’t have a problem until I removed the panel cover. I must have caused it. I assure them that removing the panel cover is a routine part of my inspection and any problems found of this nature are reported to them immediately. Regardless of how upset they may be it is my responsibility to make sure they are properly informed that electrical problems of this nature are an immediate threat to their home and everyone in it. Tell them to shut down the power and call an electrican immediately. If you must, write it down on a notepad and have them sign it. When you are involved in this type of situation you will be held responsible if you do not make your message clear. When you get home give the seller and their agent a followup call. Do everything you can to prevent a disaster and to help keep their lawyers at bay.

And what good is any of that stuff if the house burns down, and all with it?

You win Jae! :slight_smile:

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too
Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs forwrad it.

Your right there!
You can not leave the property, knowing the impending danger is there, without contacting someone.
The food in the frig will not spoil before someone gets there.
This is not one of those times you need to be concerned with the confidentiality of your inspection either!

I believe that says it all, and I am in FULL agreement. How much research was done to find out what was popping. By easily pulling the wires you could have seen if one was loose, pressing the breakers to see if they were all connected, etc… Just my opinion.

YOU can NOT shut down the breaker…as greg has stated…if you can’t diagnose it you most certainly can’t shut it down…you make the person aware of the ISSUE and your liability STOPS…I dont are what any attorney says…I will FIGHT that one in court…

You make the call and inform the right people…if they choose to ignore your views…thats their choice…BUT I would NEVER tell someone to shut down a main breaker or any breaker in a panel I am inspecting…I may make some calls and tell the right people…but ON my own…NEVER as an inspector…if I come in as the electrician I have my own rights…BUT I as the electrician SHOULD have been called in by the RIGHT people…the owners or agents to whom the inspector has ISSUED the warning if they are so concerned…

Simply BAD advice…we are nto talking about a smoking panel with a melting breaker…which I have seen…popping can be many things…the inspector told the right people…and THEY made the choice…not the inspectors choice to make that MOVE.

Sounds like removing the cover simply revealed the problem hence, that’s why we take the covers off…to discover latent problems. Seller may try to say it was okay before you messed with it but don’t buy into that. If a panel is properly installed it should be fine to remove a cover and visually inspect the interior of it and replace the cover without incident. I find a lot of panels that have had wire shelves installed over them, enclosed in homemade closets, recently had one that you had to open a cabinet which had the back removed to access the panel. The front of the panel had been remove also. Guess what they were storing in the cabinet. Paint cans! It is everyone’s right to be stupid, some just abuse it.

This could still be as easy as a dislodged breaker. It might also indicate a burned, arcing bus connection under a breaker.
I bet an infrared reading would sort that out. Do you have one of those indirect reading thermometers?

Sorry for not giving more information. Been busy and didn’t log on till now. There were wires running through knock outs that had no clamps. There were loose breakers. There were Triple lugs on both the breakers and neutral bus. To turn off the main and leave the house without power is going beyond my responsibility.

I vigorously impressed on them the importance of calling in a licensed electrician immediately. They chose not to. I followed up with them the next morning and asked if they had called the electrician. They said he was coming out the following day. I again impressed my concerns and highly suggested they have him go out sooner. Again their choice.

And Yes all statements and withnesses were noted in report.

I do not stick my hands inside the panel box. I’m a “generalist” not an electrician. I test the AFCI (if unoccupied). That’s it.

Hey to all,
I have to agree with Paul and Joe on this one. I am an electrician and still would be leery of sticking my hand in the panel. Much less somebody else who is NOT a licensed electrician to do so. As far as shutting the panel down, could open up a lot of other issues like poor grandma, the fridge, and the panel did not have any problems till you messed with it. Definitely should let them know and recommendations for immediate action but thats as far as I would go.