Why is water running out of my electrical panel?

Reblogger Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi & Corinna Birgit Cromartie
Real Estate Agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty NAR 274504721

I love to reblog inspector posts about some of the things they find during a good home inspection. No matter how much you think you know, nothing can replace having a home inspection done before you purchase!

Original content by Charles Buell

     In the following picture we can see the electrical service to a home.  The large grey box marked “A” is a utility company junction box.  The utility company wires run underground to this box, where power is then distributed to panels “B” and “C.”  This set up is common in residences with large electrical services and are considered “double 200 amp” services or “400 amp” services.  There are also “sensors” in this box that send signals to the electric meter as to the amount of electricity being used.

Double 200 AMP electrical service

     Just outside the garage door opening one can see the electrical conduit coming out of the ground and then turning at an angle where it runs through the garage wall and into Box “A.”

     Note how rusted the bottom of box “A” is----as well as rusting on the conduit coming out of the ground.

     What had happened with this electrical service is that the underground conduit runs up the hill away from the house (to the right in the picture).  At the high end of the conduit, away from the house, the pipe had been taking in ground-water and filling up to that corresponding level “inside” the conduit where it runs into the garage and inside Box “A’ itself.  This next picture shows previous water levels inside the pipe and box as indicated by rusting.

Past water levels inside panel and conduit

     These Utility Company Junction boxes should not be accessible by the property owner and should have utility company “seals” at the corners for safety.  This panel had no seals and the rust showing the high-water line inside the box was pretty spectacular-----high enough to cover electrical components within the panel.

Rusting inside the electrical panel

     If you have a panel configuration that looks like this in your home (not very common by the way) and it does not have any Utility Company seals on it, you should call the utility to come and install seals on it for improved safety.  The next picture shows what those seals look like----the two orange doohickeys at the top corners of Panel “A.”

Utility Company Panel Seals


     What was especially curious about this panel is that someone knew about the flooding and had drilled six small holes in the cover of the conduit elbow so that water would run out at a lower level----preventing wate from running into Box “A.” 

Rusting of the conduit Drain holes drilled in cover plate

     While this “repair” was likely very effective as a “temporary” fix, repairs are warranted to keep water out of the conduit all together as these small holes will, over time, rust shut or clog with debris----and the indoor panel might flood again.


     It is pretty much always a good idea to keep electricity and water from getting together.



Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector



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Mike Wong
Keller Williams Realty Southwest - Sugar Land, TX
Realtor, GRI, Project Manager

Wow very interesting. Codes and electical boxes are different in my market area, but I will definitely keep an eye out for something like this in the future. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Sep 20, 2010 06:15 PM #1
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Barbara-Jo, thanks for the re-blog---glad you found it useful

Sep 20, 2010 10:03 PM #2
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi & Corinna Birgit Cromartie
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Palm Harbor, FL
Palm Harbor & Dunedin FL Residential Real Estate

Mike - it is amazing what inspectors find out there!

Charles - some of the things you write about are really amazing!

Sep 21, 2010 03:39 PM #3
Charles McDonald
Charlottesville Real Estate Solutions - Charlottesville, VA
REALTORĀ®, Blogger, Principal BrokerĀ®, Owner


This is certainly a big problem and can get worse

your friend in Charlottesville

Sep 21, 2010 07:17 PM #4
Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi & Corinna Birgit Cromartie
Charles Rutenberg Realty - Palm Harbor, FL
Palm Harbor & Dunedin FL Residential Real Estate

Charles - that would scare me to death! electricity and water just don't mix!

Sep 21, 2010 07:20 PM #5
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Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi & Corinna Birgit Cromartie

Palm Harbor & Dunedin FL Residential Real Estate
Let me help you find that perfect home here in Paradise.
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