Rusted electrical panels can be eliminated after reading this blog

Rusted electrical panels can be eliminated after reading this blog

Electrical breaker boxes are usually never looked at until a home inspection or repairs occur.  This was definitely the case we found when we performed the home inspection in Deerfield Illinois.  To perform a proper electrical breaker box inspection the cover of the electrical panel should be removed to allow for a visual inspection of all of the breakers and the condition of the electrical box.  Many issues can be found in electrical breaker panels that include.

  • DOUBLE TAPPED BREAKERS – This is when 2 wires from two different locations are installed on 1 breaker.  Breakers are designed for only 1 wire and the addition of a 2nd wire can cause overheating of the breaker if the wires are not properly secured.  The larger issue that double taps produce is failing of the breaker due to much electric passing through the breaker for 2 locations.  This issue may cause failure of the breakers or issues broken wires or breakers when overheated.
  •  RUSTED ELECTRICAL PANELS OR BREAKERS – Rusted electrical panels can come from many places but the most common cause for rust in an electrical panel is the main conduit or pipe to the exterior meter is not sealed to the exterior and cold air is entering the electrical breaker panel.  The cold air enters the panel that is potentially 50-70 degrees.  Condensation occurs on the metal of the panel and precedes to rust.  The repair method for this issue is to seal the piping in the panel entering from the exterior to assure the cold air does not enter the home.  Sealing the electrical meter on the exterior of the wall to the building also may reduce the air or moisture enter in the homes breaker panels and walls.  The electrical panel in the Deerfield home inspection had a rusted panel that was believed to have been caused from lack of sealing.
  •  RUSTED ELECTRICAL PANELS OR BREAKERS – Rusted electrical panels can also originate from high humidity in a basement which is to be expected.   Generally the installation of a dehumidifier is recommended ion any basement to reduce the humidity in any basement.
  • UNDERSIZED OR OVERSIZED WIRES TO BREAKER CONNECTION – The wrong size breakers to wire connection is also another issue we see on a regular basis that should be noted when inspecting an electrical breaker box.
  • UNDOCUMENTED BREAKER PANEL – A breaker panel that is not properly tagged leaves homes owners in a dangerous disadvantage.  The knowledge of all of the breakers locations should be noted on the panels to assure that safety issues do not occur in the home.  The Deerfield home inspection had 3 breakers that were tagged but left 11 that were not documented leaving the electrical panel defective.
  • MISSING ELECTRICAL BREAKER BOX COVER SCREWS – Movement of an electrical breaker panel cover can cause breaker to be moved to the off position or little hands to gain access to the interior of the breaker panel potentially causing a major safety issues in the home.  The replacement of all of the electrical breaker panel screws is a must.
Open areas in an electrical panel can bring in cold air.

Open areas in an electrical panel can bring in cold air.

The Deerfield home inspection like most homes we inspect had issues that all can be fixed or remedied.  The most important thing that should happen when inspecting your electrical breaker panel is not only finding the issues but knowing what to do to eliminate the issues at hand.  My client from the Deerfield home inspection was concerned about the issues we located but was relieved that the repairs were minimal and attainable with limited cost.

If you are buying a home make sure your home inspector removes the electrical breaker cover to visually inspect the interior contents of the electrical breaker panel during your home inspection to assure no hidden issues develop after you move in.

If you have any questions about this issue please contact me at or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

The Thermal Home Inspector

Leave a Reply