Electrocution Hazard

Today’s panel inspection:

  1. Checked cover and screws with non contact and direct contact testers OK no response
  2. Carefully removed 3 of the 4 coarse thread pointed sheet metal screws without a hitch
  3. 4th screw was ¾ of the way out when the 4th of July fireworks started
  4. Sparks and the lovely aroma of welding gases mixed with vaporized plastic insulation
  5. What happened is the coarse threads cut through the insulation and made contact with the energized wire, blew the tip off of the screw
  6. Lost the other good screw in the flash and did not reinstall cover
  7. 89-year-old homeowner called her 71-year-old Bastard I mean Master Electrician son who built the house with his dad, he was missing all 5 digits and had burned scar tissue on his right hand down to the first knuckle. Wonder how that happened? He said, “Panel flash”
  8. His response was, “I wonder who used those unapproved screws?”
  9. Yeah, like anyone else had ever worked on the house
  10. Meter had it’s own 50 Amp disconnect and there was a fused service disconnect
  11. When I de-energized both none of the power was terminated to the entire house. Something’s fishy in Pottsboro, Texas
  12. I asked him how this could be seeing as how he wired the place and he grinned and said, “I dunno”
  13. Luckily I have all of my screw/nut drivers insulated with shrink-wrap from the tips back to the insulated handles minor ZAP and blacked my fingers but didn’t burn them
    I thought things were safe after testing and this is what happened


Glad to hear you are okay. You probably will just have to throw those underwear away…not fit to wash or wear again. I find sheetmetal screws all the time in panel covers. Always pulls my pucker string. Again, glad you survived. Take care.

Levi’s stock will climb tomorrow!

Are you thinking they are stealing power? If so, you should tip off the POCO.

What’s a POCO?

Glad to hear you are okay. It’s usually putting the screws back in on a packed panel where things get interesting. I keep some blunt universal panel screws in my bag just so I don’t have to re-install any pointy screws used.

Every HI should have a set of good insulated screwdrivers for working those panel screws (in addition to a pair of gloves, safety glasses, and insulated boots). It is probably the best $10 an HI will ever spend (available at Sears) … :wink:

Power Company


You can also put plastic tubing over shanks of screw drivers or electricians tape or plastic shrink tubes.

That may help keep hot wires from touching the shank, but if the tip goes hot (like when turning a panel screw that contacts a hot wire) you need a special insulated screwdriver to help keep you from becoming energized also … :wink:

It’s just not worth putting your life on the line to save just a few bucks. JMO

If there are zip screws in the dead panel, I won’t open the panel.

I had one blow in my face when I was inspecting “home alone”.

The Radon Mitigation Contractor was the culprit on that one!

Hi Robert,

Excuse my ignorance but with tape on the shank or plastic and a plastic handle how can the screw driver be energized let alone become a shock hazard?

Ray, the insulated screwdrivers like the ones I posted have a special construction and double non-conductive insulation between the shaft and the grip to keep electricity from jumping to your hand. Normal screwdrivers do not have that same protection. Compare the warnings/descriptions on insulated verses non-insulated electricians screwdrivers (some Klein examples attached).



Short for Power Company…lol