Screw Damaged Wire

Well it finally happened to me. I’ve seen it after the fact but this is the first. As I was removing the very last screw on the electrical box heard a loud pop and smelled smokey. Turned off main breaker and saw this. I had an insulated screwdriver but I normally use an electric screwdriver. Thankfully it broke last week so I was using this. My shoulder was in contact with the box but I’m all good. This is the brother to a new home construction I did a few weeks back (that had the truss issues and all kinds of other crap that some may remember). The wiring was going to an on demand Rheem electrical water heater. The home had several ungrounded receptacles and one that had no power to it. This may have been a newer sparky. I hope it wasn’t an experienced electrician. Some of the screws looked like they had pointed ends and had been cut “flat”.


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Glad you’re good, Chris!

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Yessir…that is a modified screw; sharp threads. Glad you are OK!

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That’s strange… from the picture it looks like the wire has plenty or room to just “float” back as the screw is being driven in. All the ones I’ve seen before the wire has to be restricted by a firm set of wires or something else. Glad you’re okay! BTW… how/why is your shoulder against the panel as you’re removing the cover? I’m trying to picture this.

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Did that once myself. In my case it was the course threads that dragged the conductor back into the panel cover and stripped the insulation.

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I’m assuming to hold the cover on as he was pulling out the last screw. That’s how I do it anyway. Especially if the screw is coming out hard, as this one may have been.

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These worked great for me:

0+

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I have those but on the larger covers they slipped on the paint. May be user error. Any tricks?

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I never had that problem but when I saw paint I used two magnets.

You could try to scrape the paint off the dead front… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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You could try to scrape the paint off the dead front… :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

WWIJD?
What would inspector Joe do? Lol!

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Makes you think twice about PPE! Never overlook EYE protection!

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To prevent it from falling as the last screw is removed. Saw the electrical guru do that on one of InterNACHI training courses and just started doing it lol.

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Question: was this the only screw altered like that or had you already removed some that were similar? was this the last screw? Did you put that screw back into the dead front when you were done inspecting? If I had taken a screw similar to that one out before the ‘event’ you described happened I would have stopped, written up as a limitation to inspection due to safety. I am not a proponent of removing dead front covers in the first place although I do it. What would have been your response had the insulation on the wiring started to burn?

1 Similair but none as jagged as this one.
2 No I put it and 1 other in the kitchen and the report reflected this.
3 We absolutely should be removing dead front covers when possible.
4: I turned off the main breaker to the home within 5 seconds of this happening. In the very unlikely event of rubber continuing to burn after electrical current was removed and starting a fire I would have evacuated and called 911. Not my fault the crappy electrician wired this panel.

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After your post I went out today and bought some insulated screwdrivers.

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Lol good call

My shoulder was in contact with the box

Interesting that is part of a Nachi training video. It doesn’t sound very safe to me. I hold the opened door from the bottom.

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The door should remain closed during removal. It will then be an arc flash shield if that is needed. An open door provides little protection from arc flash.

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Robert is correct. You should hse the door as a shield. You put your shoulder on after testing the box with voltage tester and back of hand and after one side’s screws are removed. It’s actually one of the best ways to remove apart from wearing full ppe which is not super practical. This was from internachis advanced electrical training course.

That happened to me once, and of course it scares the $#@+ out of you and you will likely never forget that incident. After that I started writing a defect into my reports for any wiring close to screw holes on the deadfront cover:

“The Inspector observed one or more cable(s) and/or wiring inside the panel that are not properly restrained/tied back and are too close to the panel deadfront cover. This can present a safety hazard when working on the panel as the panel deadfront screws may come in contact with one or more of the wire(s) and possibly damage the wires and/or cause an electrical short, which can cause injury. We recommend a qualified electrician tie back/properly restrain the cabling inside the panel so that it cannot come into contact with the panel deadfront screws.”