Home is vacant - why not flip the main breaker before opening panel?

Is there a reason, other than disrupting a homeowners internet (which to be honest seems trivial, all things considered), why I shouldn’t follow these instructions when opening dead front covers?

You could on a vacant home. I would just make sure all the HVAC is off first. Or anything with sensitive electronics of course.


Why? Do you not feel confident to open a live panel? There is no need or benefit.


I admit I’m concerning myself with unlikely scenarios, but there are possible benefits. I bet there are more than what I’m aware of.

It’s possible that a fastener cuts through insulation backing out. If the panel isn’t bonded (maybe even if it is?), I die.

It’s possible that the dead front catches on a breaker as I take it off, causing arcing & metal liquidation. I get burned/blinded.

Am I confident taking off a dead front? Yes. Can I possibly be 100% sure everything will go fine? Nope. You can’t either.

Edit: and, of course, mistakes happen. Only these kinda mistakes make life end. Seems pretty obvious why I’d ask this.

What are you some kind of fatalist? You need to use the proper tools. An insulated screwdriver. Worst case scenario you get shocked and or a localized burn. There’s higher voltage in an old CRT television - and that’s with it off!

More fatalist BS! Where is your face shield? We’ve all had breakers flip off or fall out (Federal Pacific - Zinsco). Deal with it.

You don’t sound like it!


Figured someone would turn this into a dick measuring contest, much like any convo about walking roofs. Really disappointing that people in an industry that’s so concerned with other people’s safety will dismiss the safety of their colleagues.

What is the harm in being stupid safe when in situations where death is a possibility? The hubris is truly bewildering.


And it’s also possible this happens as you are on the roof…!!


Okay, so Jeff and Bob are super manly men.

Now on to the question………

Well you won, you’re a big Dick!

Don’t post

If you don’t know how to work safely with tools go back to the office.

You are not safe!


Thanks Bob, great input. Hope you’re having a good day.

My greatest fear while on the roof.



The key word on the placard is “working”. As inspectors we’re not “working inside” the panel, but only looking. :nerd_face:



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My biggest fear when inspecting a house!


If You are not comfortable removing a cover panel with the lights on, do You really feel You would be more comfortable doing it in the dark ???


He won’t see it coming!

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Illumination has nothing to do with it. I have a head lamp after all.

So it has been established that I’m a little scaredy cat, Nancy-boy, whippersnapper… or whatever….

My initial question actually hasn’t been addressed though, except briefly by @ruecker.

What are the possible negative implications of turning off the power, assuming I provide my own illumination?

There is that possibility that a sensitive electrical device like a modern TV may not turn back on after you turn the power off and then turn the power back on with a possible surge.

I received a call from a client two weeks after performing a 12 month warranty inspection and they notified me their dryer stopped working. The dryer malfunction had nothing to do with my home inspection as it’s not a component that I inspect however clients will look for anything out of the ordinary when you’re through with their inspection.

A few months ago on a new house I had a electrical panel that made a nice little sizzling sound. I couldn’t see where the possible arcing was coming from but I would’ve never heard the sizzling if the main circuit breaker was open.


thanks Martin.

I should say I’m not necessarily looking to make this part of my routine, but it does make me wonder why I’m not following the “danger! Death!” sticker over and over and over.

For the sake of argument and some further context- I have shut the power off before going into crawlspaces before. And I will continue to sometimes do that.

Similar rationale applies to panels… you never know what kind of stupid crap was done in there previously.

Does this happen differently than when I test afci/GFCI breakers and turn them back on?

Just remember you are not performing work in the panel. I used to write work packages in a nuclear environment for electricians. Once you break that plane of the panel it’s a totally different set of circumstances.

One example would be the craft would have to use special dielectric gloves and boots along with a face shield.

Your inspection is visual from a safe distance.