Electrical Puzzle!

I’d appreciate your opinions on this situation:
While looking at a 42 circuit electric panel rated for 200 amps, with the deadfront off, my left hand was touching the left side of the panel box as I moved aside an ungrounded conductor (a black wire) with my right hand to better view some connections of the grounding wires. I got a pretty good zap! The black plastic insulation did not appear cracked or damaged in any way and I was nowhere near the stripped end. I was standing on a dry lino-covered wood floor over a crawlspace. I used a volt meter between the body of the panel and a separate independant ground to see if the panel body was energized and it was not.
So why did I get zapped??
Thanks for your thoughts!

Can’t think of any reason you got zapped…but two things kinda jump out here. One- you shouldn’t be sticking those bare little pinkies in there in the first place, naughty naughty. Two - definitely don’t ground yourself to the panel while doing it;-) If you must move live wiring at least use some type of non-conductive plastic insulated device.


Even though the wires are insulated there is a enough electrical magnetic force in the box that if you ground yourself to the panel you become the conductor. 1. you ever use a volt probe and even before you get to the live wire it lights up or beeps thats electricity in the air. 2. Thats why your supposed to use electricians gloves so if you accidentally ground yourself you don’t kill yourself.

My friend you don’t know how lucky you were.


Were your hands moist? The insulative jacket could have a hairline crack?

Big Tip …use left hand to turn all switches of and on.
If something goes bad flash passes your left side not in your face .
Put one hand in pocket then if you are carless enough to get into a hot wire the current does not go through the heart less apt to die that way .
Not Jokeing had two disconects explode I heard bells in the head for a few days but no lasting damage .

How can you use one hand to hold the panel and turn the screws. You need both hands?

Thats the beauty of the cover you can not get your fingers in where they should not be .
I give You Raymond permission to now use two hands .
Enjoy Roy

Are you sure there was no permanent damage? :wink:

Just joking!

Are you sure there was no permanent damage? :wink:

Excuse me I have to answer the phone ,17 times today and they always hang up when I answer.
I know I am a sicky tooooo
Roy Cooke

I have had some minor mishaps with electrical panels.

  1. Putting screw back into panel cover the screw hit a live wire. (Pointed screw)
  2. Putting screw back on panel and receiving shock from panel.
  3. Client in bare feet leans on basement refrigerator and gets zapped.
  4. Putting panel cover back on and hitting something live and causing sparks, no shock.

This is over a sixteen year span.

Putting a pointed cover screw back into a panel.

Do you still do that???

What amazes me is that no rocket scientist at the factory that makes these electrical panels, has thought of bending that little bump of metal to the exterior so the screws go through to the outside of the panel?:shocked:

Wouldn’t take much would it…:wink:

I’ve also wondered why they don’t bend it to the outside. I suppose its because if the correct screw was used there shouldn’t be a problem.

More than likely they discovered the mistake afterwards and would cost to much to retool.:wink:



I was waiting for someone to ask that question.

Yes I put the screw back in because that is the way I found the panel. The rest of the screws were all inappropriate too. I reported the problem in the report, and I told the agent, and I left the breaker off and marked it for the electrcian, and put the panel cover back on.

Actually there are panels out there that do bend outward but for some reason they haven’t gained in popularity.


More often than not that pointed screw (just by accident) gets dropped between the wall and the ouside of the service panel when I am putting the dead front cover back into place.
Alpha Home Inspections Ltd.

Look…chances are you bonded yourself to the panel and while probing your right hand touched a conductor that has it’s insulation worn down or missing and well you formed a good bond…keep in mind that since a panel is usually enameled…it would have been MUCH better if you just reached out and grabed a good ole’ bonded waterpipe or something…

All jokes aside…use the back pocket rule…never rest one hand on a panel while you probe or mess with the panel with the other hand…or if you are going to venture around…keep one hand in your back pocket to eliminate the risk of coming in contact and making a GOOD circuit.

Good idea! Thanks!