Danger of Water in Electrical Service Panels

Conducting a home inspection requires detachment of the panel box covering to make viewing and inspecting the panel interior easier. Checking the internal electrical connections, breakers, grounding, wire type, wire size, panel box condition and main breaker is part of the inspection.

Rainwater is always the main reason why there is the presence of moisture in the electrical service panel. Normally, electric meter or service drop can cause main problems inside the panel boxes. Water can move towards the interior of the insulated electrical wire and finally lodge itself inside the panel box by using the electric meter or service drop as a vehicle or conveyance.

Rain water, as the common and main reason moisture is inside the electrical box panel, has its way of getting into the panel and start initial rusting that will eventually develop into a serious corrosion problem. It usually happens when a part of the electric meter or the service drop is disturbed but has not been properly resealed. Water has the tendency to drip along these lines and find its way towards the panel.

When inspection is being done, water penetration and damage on the electrical panel is assessed. Panel box moisture can cause rust and corrosion on circuit breakers and terminals. More often than not, damages are found at the bottom of the panel box which is made of metal. The removal of the cover of the panel requires extra care due to unsafe condition and hazard of electrical shock.

Water seeping and infiltration through foundation walls of the basement where the attachment of panel box is located have a lesser ability to cause corrosion. Potential damage can still be caused by these and hazards are likely to come up. Stone, concrete or masonry walls are not ideal places to attach the panel boxes directly. Condensation, as a result high levels of moisture at home can cause corrosion to the panel box.

An electrical technician is required to evaluate and repair the condition. This technicians job is to track the moisture source and make appropriate repair. The panel box can be salvaged if it is still usable but, as much as possible, replacements should be done if necessary to avoid further damage.

House inspection aims to inspect and check water infiltration such as this and other damage on the electrical panel. The terminals and circuit breakers rust and corrode as a result of moisture in the panel box.

The very common procedure by which moisture entered these panels was from surface runoff, causing basement water entry and high indoor humidity levels which in turn lead to condensation. In several other cases there were indications of water entering the rear of the service enclosure at points of contact with the basement wall, even when the enclosure was actually attached to a wood which themselves were fixed firmly directly to the base.

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