Rusty Panel Cover Screws

If you come across an electrical panel cover held in place by some rusty or otherwise corroded screws that are hard to turn, as a Home Inspector is it prudent to use a little lubricant like WD40 to loosen the screws?

I wouldn’t put anything on the sellers electrical panel cover.

If you can’t remove the cover to inspect the panel, say so in your report and move on.

Let your client know this and see if the seller will remove the screws for you. If the seller isn’t available and your client insists, have the seller or someone (other than you or buyer) remove the screws.
If you have to come back, charge for it.


Zactly!.. :+1:


Do you want to be the first one to remove a cover to a rusted in panel that was not removed in over a decade? :smiley: At least wear some proper high-voltage/flash rated PPE.


Yup I do all the time. Sometimes I have to go to the van to use my Dewalt for more torque.


I haven’t found one I can’t open. If they are rusty, or are the wrong screws (drywall, sheet metal, wood)
I replace them with the proper screw. I always carry extra panel screw with me.


I’ve had one or two rusty screws snap off and it’s always on the panels that have one screw at the bottom holding the dead front cover on. A real pain as now you can’t secure the cover. Other times the head strips out and the screwdriver won’t bite.




Yep. Needs to be done. Kinda have to be ready for anything.

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I like this idea, but I’m curious if any of the legal/insurance gurus can think of any reasons why this might get you in trouble.

I’ve heard the idea kicked around before that you might hear in court one day “well if you fixed one thing why didn’t you fix other things?”

Any truth to this if one were to replace a sharp tipped screw with a proper panel screw as a courtesy?

I think I remember one of my instructors saying that he get bulk faceplates to replace cracked ones for his clients. :man_shrugging:

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I agree with this statement. A poster on the board earlier this week stated they replace faulty GFCI receptacles. That is a bad precedent to set in my opinion.


I won’t reinstall a pointed screw (such as a wood screw or drywall screw) so I carry spare panel screws, Like Joseph does. I’m not fixing their panel as much as I’m protecting myself. It can be dangerous to install a pointy screw.

With that distinction I think I have a solid exemption from expectations of further repairs.


Mike, I do not note in the report I replaced the dead front screws, I just do it specifically for safety reasons. Why take the chance of nicking a wire putting back the improper screws.


Thank you Joseph, sounds like a wise move. Can you show me what screws you use, exactly?

You can get them at Lowe’s, Home Depot. Look where the panels/breakers are and you will see the panel screws. Depends on the panel but they could 6-32, 8-32 or some large dead fronts take 10-32. Get a pack of each.


Thanks so much for the responses. It’s really amazing how different inspectors have totally opposite views on this topic. I appreciate the input. I’m inspecting in a coastal region in Costa Rica where humidity and salt moisture commonly deteriorate most house components very quickly. Also the laws, codes and good building practices are not followed very often so that can compound many issues. I’m surprised that I don’t hear about more folks getting electrocuted or fires due to the huge amount of electrical defects found. :thinking:

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I too carry extra panel screws. However, I carry them to replace screws that I lost (fallen and I cannot find), and those that I may break or damage.

I do not replace faulty or missing components while doing the job. I report what I see only.


Golden River by I.P. Standing or Russian Torture by Who Bityourcockov. :wink:

Just a little fun!

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I use to carry Screw sets as well.
Now I no longer remove dead-fronts.