Ever had this happen?

I inspected a condo today, and found very little issues, but I am hesitant about the electrical panel. The owners have had the walls painted recently, and the new paint is adhered to the edges of the panel cover. If I pulled the cover off, the paint would be peeled back, making a very ugly wall.
I called the buyer’s and seller’s agent over to see it, and explained that I would not be pulling the cover off, and why. I explained that this is a very important part of the inspection and why.
There were no tripped breakers, nor any turned off. I have inspected a different unit in the same building, and found the wiring there to be in excellent shape. The buyer was not present, but I’m sending him an email, explaining this issue.
I thought about using a knife to separate the paint, but I feel sure I would have screwed it up and made more of a mess.
Any thoughts or suggestions?

I use a box cutter and just run it around the panel two or three times and it has always worked for me.
I am very carefull removing the panel trim and if I see it is sticking I cut some more .
Some times I am through the dry wall paper into the plaster but I have been lucky so far.
… Cookie

That was my concern - it’s a high-end condo, the panel is in the entry foyer - I just didn’t want to ruin the nice, new paint job!

Andrew . . . I’ve screwed up many a walls . . . if I remember correctly, the panel cover shouldn’t be painted in the first place . . . if I’m wrong, someone will be along to correct me . . . but I take the cover off to inspect what’s behind, sorry if my knife slipped, but I do it, I want to know what’s there . . . to many handy-dandy men who add or subtract in there handy-dandy home projects . . . hope this helps.

No, the cover wasn’t painted, and had to have been taped off, because there was no paint at all on the cover - it’s just that when I took out the screws, and pulled the cover, I could see the paint pulling up, so I stopped. As I said, the buyer (my client) wasn’t present. I think I’m going to offer to be present at his walk-thru, and I’ll have a sharp blade handy…

I once had to pay to have a wall painted because the paint pulled back from the wall. That was in my early days. Now if I cannot get the cover off (without ruining the wall) I report it as such and recommend the seller remove the panel cover for inspection prior to closing, or I ask the seller to remove the panel cover for me. I have only been refused once.

Unfortunately this is a grey area, as we (and our client) are bound to leave the homes in the same shape that we found them. Most times the sellers dont complain, but every now and then you run into that anal person. I also inform them that it is their repsponsibililty to have the home ready for inspection, and that the inside of the box is supposed to be accessible. If they refuse to co-operate, I explain that I will be glad to come back and inspect for a fee (which is their or their agents responsiblilty to pay - no different from the water being off).

I cut the paint seal and inspect it. Never had a complaint. Personally, I feel a painted panel is an insufficient reason for not performing an inspection of the panel. If I were to get some complaint about it, I’d probably go over and do some touchup myself if that’s what it took. But the client is paying me good money for an inspection, and I’m going to remove the cover unless it’s blocked in some way or unsafe.

I’m more concerned about my clients getting a thorough inspection than the homeowner getting a burr under their saddle for some nit-picky issue like paint.

I agree with Joe.
Next time carry a knife and open it up. It’s just paint.

Andrew…I want you in that sucker next time fella. As many have suggested, carry a razor knife and you can cut around the panel but I would MUCH prefer you to have a customer upset and you buy some touch up paint if it ever came to that than to try and defend yourself in court over something major happening.

Simply explain to the client and all associated that the Electrical System is the highest priority in safety as it pertains to the inspection and you must get inside to see wire sizes, connections, possibly hot spots and you name it…and that it is a critical compenent…

If they say don’t worry about it…GET that statement in written form and have it CLEARLY state YOU have a desire to get into that panel and make that CLEAR…then make sure the statement says the client does not want you into it and have them sign it…keep the chain of events documented always…not verbal…

But between me and you fella…get in that puppy next time…ok…:wink:

I’d rip the SOB off, not my problem.!!! Just kidding,… I use a switchblade,… ahem, I mean box knife too.

This is a different story, paneling was over lapping the dead front. I’m not ripping paneling off to access the electrical panel, this is beyond SOP. I wonder what was in that old bulldog pushmatic panel,… hmmmmmmmm

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Man…all kidding aside I wish I had a “SwitchBlade”…yeah I know they are illegal but man I would still like one…lol

I carry single-edged razor blades for this very purpose. Works well.

I also keep a utilty knife in my tool bucket for this reason. Also to help open painted shut windows. I don’t break old frames or glass trying to pop them free. I stop short of removing trim (in some cases) or extensive shelving. But I want in there. So do my customers.

I agree with getting in there. Take your time cutting the paint, and if it starts to pull, call the seller or sellers agent over, if they’re there, and get them to open it. Otherwise, as Roy said, if it starts to pull, cut some more.

Wow, I’m in the minority here. I got a complaint from a seller about pulling paint off the wall around the service panel. When I find a service panel painted over and sealed to the wall, screw slots filled with paint, etc. , I take a good close up pic and report the service panel not inspected. I offer to come back to inspect the service panel with permission from the seller to remove panel front. I have a problem with running a blade around a service panel since I can’t see exactly where live conductors are, one slip could be the last slip. I want to give my customer what they pay for but I also want to be able to go home after the inspection as well.

Hi Stu,

I’m with you and Jae on this one, I don’t know a decent inspector who doesn’t carry a craft knife to do this with.

BTW I also have a hammer and a pry-bar in the trunk for when the occassion calls for it :twisted:



Come on Paul,… you can buy anything on the internet, dont you know?? :twisted:


lol…you old DOG…up here we call that "Breaking & Entering "…lol…and you get 12-15 years in the POKIE for it…lol

When the State requires it…

    A. Identify the type conductors present on the service cable and all visible circuit
    conductors (aluminum or cooper).
    B. Describe and report visible defects and/or deficiencies.
    C. Report the location of the main service panel and sub-service panels.

I cut it loose with a razor knife and gently pry it off…
They all understand it has to be done… :roll: