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Prioritizing Safety: The Dangers of DIY Electrical Panel Work Revealed

At Gloudeman Electric, we prioritize safety above all else. One of the most hazardous areas for DIY enthusiasts to tinker with is the electrical panel. While it might seem tempting to save a few bucks and handle panel repairs or breaker replacements yourself, the risks far outweigh the benefits. In this blog post, we'll delve into the dangers of working in your own electrical panel, important points of electrical panel safety, and why it's crucial to leave such tasks to qualified electricians.


Arc Flash: A Lethal Threat: Arc flash is a phenomenon that can occur when working with electrical equipment, including residential panels. It happens when an electrical current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another or to the ground.


Arc flash in electrical panel
Example of an arc flash. (Image from nachi.org/arc-flash-dangers)

This discharge produces a brilliant flash of light and intense heat, resulting in severe burns, blast injuries, and even death. Even a seemingly minor mistake, such as improper tool usage or accidental contact with an energized area can trigger an arc flash with catastrophic consequences such as blinding or other injury.



The Myth of Safety: Many homeowners mistakenly believe that turning off the main breaker renders the panel safe to work in. However, the truth is that the panel's bus bar--the metal strip/bar that conducts electricity within the panel to the breakers--as well as other electrical components in the panel remain energized even when the main breaker is switched off. This means that a potentially lethal voltage is still present, posing a grave danger to anyone attempting DIY repairs.


Why Electricians are Essential: Qualified electricians undergo extensive training and possess the necessary expertise to safely navigate electrical panels. They understand the intricacies of panel wiring, how to identify potential hazards, and employ specialized tools and equipment to mitigate risks. Their comprehensive knowledge ensures that repairs and installations are carried out efficiently and, most importantly, safely.


The Illusion of Simplicity: It might not seem like a big deal to do what you may feel is "minor" panel work like changing out a breaker yourself. However, though changing a breaker out might sound like a straightforward task, it can quickly turn hazardous without proper knowledge and precautions. Incorrect wiring and live circuits can lead to short circuits, electrical fires, and personal injury.


Accidentally slipping while using your screwdriver can have devastating results. There is additional risk to your home and appliances if you don't properly de-energize or know what you're working with.


What may seem like a minor error could have devastating consequences, underscoring the importance of leaving such tasks to professionals.


Panel Door Dangers: Even something as seemingly innocuous as removing a panel door to "see inside" can pose risks. The panel door serves as a protective barrier, shielding individuals from live electrical components inside. Mishandling the door or failing to secure it properly can expose individuals to electrical hazards. It is not infrequent that a panel door could be compressing wires on the inside of the panel if installed incorrectly, and when you remove that door, you could force the metal door to come into contact with a live wire--the same danger exists in trying to resecure the panel door after taking it off.


Conclusion: Working in your own electrical panel is not only risky but potentially life-threatening. From the dangers of arc flash to the misconception of safety, there are numerous hazards associated with DIY panel work. Instead of putting yourself and your loved ones in harm's way, entrust electrical panel tasks to qualified, licensed and insured electricians like Gloudeman Electric. Your safety is paramount, and it's not worth risking for the sake of DIY experimentation. Stay safe, and let the experts handle your electrical needs.


Andrew Gloudeman & Team

Gloudeman Electric, LLC

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