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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    145

    Default I hate those long pointy screws!

    Why do they do this? Panel screws come with every box. I'll bet that over 50% of my panels have some type of wood, metal or machine screw in at least one of the holes. This panel on a condo last week had all six. When I backed out the top one it blew fire out the top and at the 30 amp breaker. I have no idea why the panel deadfront wasn't energized but thank goodness the breaker tripped before I got zapped.
    Top left screw right into the #10 hot wire one arc at the top and one at the ground bar next to the breaker. Told the client we were going to need an electrician before we could check the upstairs AC unit.
    This is why my wife makes me carry a big life insurance policy.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Osceola, AR
    Posts
    310

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Burnett View Post
    Why do they do this? Panel screws come with every box. I'll bet that over 50% of my panels have some type of wood, metal or machine screw in at least one of the holes. This panel on a condo last week had all six. When I backed out the top one it blew fire out the top and at the 30 amp breaker. I have no idea why the panel deadfront wasn't energized but thank goodness the breaker tripped before I got zapped.
    Top left screw right into the #10 hot wire one arc at the top and one at the ground bar next to the breaker. Told the client we were going to need an electrician before we could check the upstairs AC unit.
    This is why my wife makes me carry a big life insurance policy.
    Yeah, it's a normal thing for me to find sheetrock screws, wood screws, just whatever happened to be handy in the panel covers. I buy the correct screws (full box) a couple of times a year and keep them in my tool bag. Once I do get the sheet rock screws out of the cover there is no way that I am putting then back, and I will not leave the cover off the panel if at all possible.

    Alton Darty
    ATN Services, LLC
    www.arinspections.com

  3. #3
    James Duffin's Avatar
    James Duffin Guest

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    I normally cut the pointy screw off with a pair of side-cutters so it is no longer pointy.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Plano, Texas
    Posts
    145

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    I too carry a pair of sidecutters to do the same. Problem is that didn't help removing the dang thing. Didn't have to cut that one off since it burned off nice and round.
    I used to buy the panel screws but they are about $1.60 for a box of 6 at Big Box Depot. Seems like if they weren't pointed they were missing!!!!


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    26,248

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    Another thing you will find with panel cover screws versus other screws: the threads on other screws are knife-edge sharp (sort of) while the threads on panel screws are rolled edge dull (will not cut into the insulation as easily as other screw threads will).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    S.W. Missouri
    Posts
    71

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    As Part of my Panel Inspection I look closely at the screws on the panel cover. If they appear they are not the correct screw. I don't open the panel and recommend an electrician. Much Safer.


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob R View Post
    As Part of my Panel Inspection I look closely at the screws on the panel cover. If they appear they are not the correct screw. I don't open the panel and recommend an electrician. Much Safer.
    That would not work in most places, you would likely stop getting referrals if you did that in most places that I am aware of.

    That's almost like saying that the front door knob and hinges don't look safe, so I'm not going inside, and then recommending having someone come out and inspect the house ... ummm ... that's what you were there for.

    I can see using caution in your inspections, but (to me) that is way over the edge and not doing what you should be doing.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  8. #8
    Eric Shuman's Avatar
    Eric Shuman Guest

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Another thing you will find with panel cover screws versus other screws: the threads on other screws are knife-edge sharp (sort of) while the threads on panel screws are rolled edge dull (will not cut into the insulation as easily as other screw threads will).
    That is an excellent point Jerry. I was on an inspection a while back where someone had taken some side cutters and lopped off the point of a sheet metal screw. Unfortunately, the threads at the cut-off area were razor sharp from the cut and still managed to cut through the insulation of a hot wire.


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Shuman View Post
    someone had taken some side cutters and lopped off the point of a sheet metal screw. Unfortunately, the threads at the cut-off area were razor sharp from the cut and still managed to cut through the insulation of a hot wire.
    That's because it was a "sheet metal screw" and not a panel cover screw (in addition to the sharp cut off end part).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
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    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    The cover is sometimes left off for the drywall crew, or it is removed by the drywall crew. Then, by the time the taping and sanding and shop vaccing is done, the original screws are outside in the dumpster. I had one a while back, fresh drywall, deadfront was held on with Tuc Tape. Well, no hazard in that, at least.

    Stove bolts are a cheap alternatives to the proper screws, but the heads are small.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 07-27-2011 at 09:32 PM.
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI
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    4,086

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    The cover is sometimes left off for the drywall crew, or it is removed by the drywall crew. Then, by the time the taping and sanding and shop vaccing is done, the original screws are outside in the dumpster. I had one a while back, fresh drywall, deadfront was held on with Tuc Tape. Well, no hazard in that, at least.

    Stove bolts are a cheap alternatives to the proper screws, but the heads are small.
    Yes that IS a dangerous and hazardous condition!

    The deadfront cover not bonded (grounded) to the conductive panel's cabinet properly IS absolutely a hazard! So is the arc/flash risk of an improperly closed cabinet front. IMO more dangerous than the cabinet "dead front" not having been installed in the first place - is one which has been improperly installed, i.e. the supposed "dead front" becoming a "DEATH front" - and "hidden" or lurking danger as its presence suggests it is "dead" (not engergized) and "front" (properly bonded) providing separation and protection from "live" equipment.

    Bonding and grounding of equipment in the electrical codes and the equipment Standards themselves provide what IS and IS NOT permitted.

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 07-28-2011 at 03:19 PM.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring City/Surrounding Philadelphia area
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    3,473

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    Finding a panel that is properly secured with correct screws and the full allotment of screws based on available holes is a rarity.

    "It takes a big man to cry. It takes an even bigger man to laugh at that man". - Jack Handey

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Location
    Southern Vancouver Island
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    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Yes that IS a dangerous and hazardous condition!
    No need to yell, sir. There was no danger of a sharp screw slicing into a live conductor. I suppose I should have said, there was less hazard to me, the inspector who had to remove the deadfront after determining it was safe to do so.
    BTW, I reinstalled the deadfront with machine screws out of my bag. No, I was not going to leave it taped like that for my clients, or anyone else, for that matter.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 07-28-2011 at 09:40 PM. Reason: adding additional reassuring commentary
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Atlanta, GA
    Posts
    162

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    I too hate those pointy screws plus the painted screws, stripped screws, missing screws, overtightened screws, too short screws (in a recessed panel), small heads on GE panel screws, and dropped screws.


  15. #15
    David Valley's Avatar
    David Valley Guest

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    It's quite typical to find improper (sharp) screws holding the dead fronts securely in place. I will re-install the improper screws (and report it) but, I simply tuck the wires further inside the gutter with my Tic-Tracer.


  16. #16
    Bob Bassett's Avatar
    Bob Bassett Guest

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    A couple of months ago while screwing one of the pointed screws back into the panel and while telling the buyer, owner and realtor about the danger of pointed screws, the screw pierced one of the main service conductors. What a spark! It really made an impression on the onlookers and myself. Fortunately, I didn't have my left hand on the shaft to spin the screwdriver with my left as well as right hand as I often do. I went out the next day a bought common and phillips head insulated, shaft screwdrivers. Marked the panel cover at the hole which had the pierced conductor behind it to make sure a screw was not reinserted into it. Didn't want to leave the panel cover off so I put several of the pointed screws back in making sure they weren't going to hit any conductors. Also made it clear verbally and in the report they needed to get an electrician in to replace the screws and repair the wiring. After reading the notes above, I'm going out to get some of the proper panel screws to carry in my bag.


  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Fuquay Varina, NC
    Posts
    1,072

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    Why don't the panel manufactures put the screw mounts on the outside of the panel or at least enclose them on the inside. It's a no brainer for safety.

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Oklahoma City
    Posts
    356

    Default Re: I hate those long pointy screws!

    I agree. They do not put much thought into the dead front cover. The holes should be deeper so that the screw cant touch the wires or they should be in a gutter of some sort. There should also be tabs like the Siemens panels have to hang the cover while you install the screws. I wish that Siemens would put them on both sides though so that there would always be tabs to hang the cover from no matter which way it is opened. I guess the people that design these things do not work in them much.

    If it weren't for lawyers, we would never need them.

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