Sharp-Tipped Screws Are A Hazard To A Home Inspector!

By
Home Inspector with Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula

Sharp-Tipped Screws Are A Hazard To A Home Inspector!- Thank God I'm still alive! I just finished conducting a Poway home inspection that could have finished me! I look into the face of danger every day in the form of vicious dogs, high rooftops, 150-degree attics and so on, but at this particular home inspection I was almost done in by a sharp-tipped screw. Let me explain why sharp-tipped screws are a hazard to a home inspector:

 

 

When you open a typical electrical panel, you are looking at the dead-front cover. The dead-front cover holds the circuit breaker identification labeling and protects people from the wiring, bus bars, and other shock hazards behind it. A panel manufacturer always provides blunt-tipped screws to secure the dead-front cover. To inspect the internal components, a home inspector must remove the dead-front cover.

 

 

It is quite common for a dead-front cover screw to be dropped on the ground and lost when work is performed in a panel board. The homeowner or handyman may unknowingly replace the lost blunt-tipped screw with a sharp-tipped screw. When this is done, it puts everyone who works on the panel in the future in great danger. Such was the case with the electrical panel at this Poway home inspection.

 

 

 

After inspecting the panel, I attempted to re-insert one of these sharp-tipped screws in the dead-front cover and ZZZAAAPPP!!! Sparks flew everywhere! The sharp-tipped screw had penetrated one of the wires inside the panel box! The electrical current melted the end of the screw off! I am very grateful for the insulated handle on my screwdriver!

 

 

 

Now you know why sharp-tipped screws are a hazard to a home inspector! From now on, you will find an assortment of blunt-tipped screws in my inspection bag! A day above ground always beats one under! Steve Stenros- First Choice Inspections serves San Diego, Orange, and Riverside Counties in southern California. Steve is a CREIA MCI home inspector and can be reached for appointment at 888-335-3040. Clients receive a FREE lifetime appliance RecallChek with every standard home inspection.

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Dan Edward Phillips 07/06/2011 02:34 PM
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Rainmaker
466,408
Jon Quist
REALTY EXECUTIVES TUCSON ELITE - Tucson, AZ
Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996

Well, I didn't know about this. Now I do, and I hope I never come in contact with that situation. Have to watch my inspector a little closer.

Jul 02, 2011 01:51 PM #1
Rainmaker
111,002
Steven Wright
Home Real Estate - Aurora, CO
CRS - Home Real Estate - 720-989-5283

Good information.  I figured a screw was a screw.  Glad you are okay.

Jul 02, 2011 02:08 PM #2
Ambassador
1,851,014
Fred Griffin
Fred Griffin Real Estate - Tallahassee, FL
Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker

Steve, you would think that the Panel Box Manufacturers could come up with a block or something to stop a screw from going "into the box".

Glad you are okay.

About that plastic-handled screwdriver...  When I was in the Air Force, I was working on a 480 Volt Box "Hot" with a screwdriver.  My hand slipped down the Shaft of the screwdriver.  Even wearing Leather Work Gloves, the Shock still knocked me senseless.  Thank God it was a low-amperage lighting circuit, and not something more potent.

Jul 02, 2011 02:48 PM #3
Rainmaker
137,399
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

Jon, I got that "tingling" sensation on the back of my neck as I was re-inserting the screw, so I made sure I wasn't touching any metal. Good thing.

Jul 02, 2011 03:02 PM #4
Rainmaker
137,399
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

The devil's in the details, Steven!

Jul 02, 2011 03:03 PM #5
Rainmaker
137,399
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

I'm also ex-Air Force, Fred. I'm glad you survived the "slip"!

Jul 02, 2011 03:07 PM #6
Rainmaker
114,934
Kathleen Vetrano
RE/MAX Gateway - Arlington, VA
FEARLESS About Helping YOU Achieve YOUR Dreams

Steve,  Thank goodness you're OK.  Sounds like it could have been much worse.  I also can not believe that these boxes are not made so as to eliminate any screws by the wires.  Sounds hazardous the way it is set up.  Thank you for giving us this information, it will most likely prevent some accidents in the future.

Have a happy 4th of July.  Celebrate!

Jul 02, 2011 06:00 PM #7
Rainmaker
137,399
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

Kathleen: You would think so! I will!

Jul 02, 2011 06:30 PM #8
Rainmaker
908,388
Pamela Seley
West Coast Realty Division - Murrieta, CA
Residential Real Estate Agent serving SW RivCo CA

Steve, wow that could have been serious. Glad you are ok. Thanks for posting this info. I always learn something from your posts. Keep up the good work.

Jul 02, 2011 07:15 PM #9
Rainmaker
708,988
Dan Edward Phillips
Dan Edward Phillips - Eureka, CA
Realtor and Broker/Owner

Good Morning Steve, you make an excellent point in your post.  Home owners DO NEED to replace screws, like for like, or there could be a disaster.

Have a great 4th!

Dan 36170

Jul 02, 2011 11:19 PM #10
Rainer
211,205
Tim Peterson
Wisconsin Realtor Safety and Concealed Carry Classes - Madison, WI
Realtor Safety Training Classes

Hi Steve glad you survived--I really never thought about it..thanks

Jul 02, 2011 11:34 PM #11
Rainmaker
137,399
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

Pamela: My pleasure!

Dan: Anytime you modify something, you're asking for trouble!

Tim: You're welcome. Thanks for your comment!

Jul 03, 2011 04:31 AM #12
Rainmaker
1,582,085
Patricia Feager
DFW FINE PROPERTIES - Southlake, TX
Selling Homes Changing Lives

Steve,

What a great post. I'm going to bookmark this and keep it in my files. I've seen inspectors write this up on their reports and the sellers refuse to get it fixed. I didn't know how dangerous this could be. I'm clicking suggest because I think everyone should know about this problem and can benefit from your expertise as a home inspector.

Thank you very much Steve. Be safe out there inspecting houses.

Jul 03, 2011 04:24 PM #13
Rainmaker
137,399
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

Patricia: It's amazing to me that a seller would refuse to fix a safety concern when all it will take is a screw replacement!? They can't find a qualified contractor to perform the fix? The repair is too expensive? What about their genuine concern for the buyer's safety? Wow!

Thanks for your comment and for the "suggest"!

Jul 03, 2011 05:51 PM #14
Rainer
6,477
Roger Hankey
Hankey & Brown Inspections - Eden Prairie, MN

I have had the same thing happen when a BLUNT end corkscrew style screw pinched a wire between the side of the panel and the screw.  Fortunately the breaker that tripped was NOT the one for the lights in the area that contained the panel, but the short did make quite a pop, tripped the breaker, created a little smoke, and shut off the lights in the adjoining room.  Fortunately I carry black electrical tape with me and repaired the damaged insulation on the wire, repositioned the wire, and all was good.  A good lesson:  Look at the position of all wires near the fasteners before placing the screws back on the cover.

Sep 20, 2011 06:25 PM #15
Rainmaker
137,399
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

Roger: Electrical panels are one of the most dangerous components we inspect! Stay safe!

Sep 21, 2011 04:18 AM #16
Rainmaker
83,261
Justin Nickelsen
NICKELSEN HOME INSPECTIONS - Vancouver WA Home Inspector - Vancouver, WA
CMI - (p 360.907.9648), Vancouver/Portland/WA/OR Home Inspector

This has happened to me so... many... times...  Glad you are ok.  :-)

Apr 05, 2012 05:47 PM #17
Rainmaker
137,399
Steve Stenros
Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula - San Diego, CA
CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego

Thanks Justin. Any day above ground is better than one below!

Apr 06, 2012 12:23 AM #18
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Rainmaker
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Steve Stenros

CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego
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