Don’t Do As I Do, …Do As I Say!……………(You Don’t Want No Sparks, Baby!)

Don’t Do As I Do, Do As I Say!…………… Don’t open the electrical panels. That’s my job (or your electricians). We have the training, but there is always a degree of risk. So don’t open your panels! Period.

Around here the electrical utilities normally lock-out the larger voltage switching and bus bar panels. They do this for a reason. Higher voltages are dangerous. There is no serge protection and arcing potential is high. (That means sparks baby!, You’se don’t want no sparks.!)

The lock-out devises are simple one-use wire and plastic things with the utilities logo in them. If they’ve been opened you can’t fake it and put them back on. They (The utility company, the electrician, and the inspector) are going to know. So those panels are meant to be left alone.

But if the tags are opened or gone, or lying on the floor, I will (very carefully) take a peak, just to ensure nothing’s wrong. Usually all is fine, but imagine what I thought of this:

panel cover

Where that pencil is, that’s where the lock-out tag should be, hymmm.

So as you can imagine I had a look?

Well this is what I saw:

elect sw panel

I may have said “Oh f…..” out loud, but I took a picture and closed it back up.


Why? , Because this is what you should expect to see in a switch panel of this type;

Reg Sw Panerl

Yeah, cartridge fuses that have big thick solid metal contact bars which in conductivity are very nearly the same as the metal in those big black wires that you see there.

But in the other switch panel behind the pencil closer, those are thin pieces of metal corner beading used by the drywall carpenters to create perfect corners on joint taped gyproc walls.

They are not electrical components! They are scraps from construction that should not be in an electrical panel. You might as well have used a piece of a tin can!. That metal is thicker.

There is a piece of wire, a single strand, tucked inside it to make it thick enough to be held by the fuse contacts. this does not equal the load capacity of the supply and load wires (big black ones) entering and leaving the switch box.

What does that mean. It means when there is a demand load on this service these pieces of metal are going to get hot. Maybe really hot. Maybe they could start a fire hot.


So I said “Oh Frozen” NOT.

I said ” Oh, Further investigation required by a qualified master electrician! ”  and then took my photo and closed the cover.

In this case it is not an emergency because further on the load side the power is split into two smaller switch boxes and theses are both properly fused for protection.

However a qualified electrician is a specialist and has the final say on the safety of this system. This was the most surprising detail I discovered here, but not the only concern.


So when you need a full inspection or need to know if further specialized service of any type is required you need the benefit of a qualified and experienced inspector.

If you’re in the Montreal area and you need a full inspection…………..


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post