embedding panel into drywall

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by atuel, Dec 22, 2008.

  1. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code
    I wanted to get your opinions of embedded the panel into the wall such that the front is flush with the drywall.

    My panel is in my attached garage and embedded into the wall cavity like this and sometime after the garage was built, the inside was finished with drywall, baseboard, and crown molding (more pretty than functional - pics attached). I need to run a few new circuits into this from the top and this happens to be on an external wall where the rafters are at their shortest height making drilling down into the wall cavity a joy.

    I'm contemplating opening up at least this area around the panels to make it more functional since I'll have to cut some access holes to run the new lines, so I'm wondering what ways you would normally make the panel area "pretty" while keeping it accessible for new circuits.

    Attached Files:

  2. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    One thing you can do is to remove the bird board from outside. This will give you decent access to the top plates.


    It's still tricky to drill but at least you are standing on a ladder, working at eye level instead of laying on you belly in the isulation. Sometimes there will be extra space from the original installation.

    Use a sawsall to cut the nails and the bird board will usually come right out. Use screws to reinstall the board and you can remove it for future additions.



    And....if you add circuits, make the wiring clean and neat like the original wiring, NOT like the added circuit on the last pic. It's not any harder to make it clean and nice.
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 22, 2008
  3. jar546

    jar546 In the Trades

    Messages:
    432
    Location:
    USA
    While you are in your panel you can fix those doubled up neutrals that are under one terminal screw too.

    As far as access for the future, you can put in the plumbing panels so you can at least access the strain relief bushings.
  4. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code
    I'll give that a shot... it might work if theres not a second header in my garage. Its 12' ceilings with 2x4 framing in there so there may be a second header somewhere within 4 feet of the top of the wall.

    I'm a bit upset about those two added circuits (one blue and one white romex that you can see in the last pic). The blue romex isnt even connected to anything... just goes down out the bottom of the box to some unknown place. This is one reason I'm contemplating opening the entire wall to give me access to see what this goes to and remove it.

    The white one is how an electician hired by the previous owner fixed some double tapping and lack of a wire bushing I found during inspecting the house before I bought it a few months ago. He apparently found some slack to pull the romex into the box, but rather than moving the first breaker there down and attaching this to its spot, he added that wire nut and pig tail and left the romex like it is now. He didnt even use a proper bushing on the top of the box... its just a plastic ring that covers the sharp metal, but has no clamp.
  5. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code

    While I do this, should the ground and neutral be separated. Right now, ground and neutral are in separate bars on the right side of the box (though connected together), but the left side only has one bar and the ground and neutral are mixed.
  6. rgsgww

    rgsgww New Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Ia
    Separating buses apply to sub-panels, this looks like a main panel.

    Are these 2 200 amp panels, where do the feeder wires go to? The meter I assume?

    If this is the main panel (first panel, with first disconnect) then the buses stay together.
  7. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code

    Its the main panel... the meter is exactly on the other side of this wall... the feeder couplers go directly into the meter box on the other side of the wall. I know this now because I actually went ahead and opened the wall from ceiling to floor today since I thought that second header was there. Theres like less than an inch of conduit running directly into the back of the meter on the outside of the wall.


    It was a good thing to open it up as there was a bit of a hole where the vinyl siding wasnt locked in properly and some sort of mud nest building wasp got into the wall and had a nest built suspended in the wires going into the top of the left box. I should have taken a picture for the wall of shame as that mud nest is all that is anchoring the cables down within 12" of the panel.


    Anyway, the plan I'm contemplating now is to give the sheet rock directly to the left of the panels an edging using some sort of corner beed to give myself a nice straight and somewhat durable edge. Then on the other side, where the panels are, I was going to use some 5/8" plywood that has some decorative beeding on the surface in direct replacement of the sheetrock. It'll be the same thickness of the sheet rock and the decorative beeds on it will give it a more finished look once its painted. Using screws with decorative washers will make the panel removable in case of adding new circuits.

    Any problem with code, etc in doing something like this?
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,293
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    grounds

    Normally, I would use the right hand ones for the neutrals and the left hand one for the grounds. Right now, it appears that the neutral AND ground are using the same screw on the left side.
  9. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code
    Its hard to tell, but there are two bars at the top right of each panel.... the one closer to the center is actually sunken down from the one closer to the right side of the panel. What you're seeing is actually grounds going underneath the bar closet to the right and secured to the bar closet to the center. The neutrals are secured to the bar closet to the right. The neutrals have enough extra length that they almost touch the inner bar, but they just barely do not.
  10. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code
    I was fixing that crap job on the white romex intending to take out the wire nut / pigtail and give it a proper bushing rather than the plastic ring without clamp

    Thats on a 20A circuit that feeds outlets all around my garage, but the pigtail there reduces the 12 gauge romex down to 14 gauge (maybe smaller) for the last little bit. This was done by a licensed electrician as part of our closing on the house. He was supposed to fix the fact that piece of romex was double tapped into one of the other breakers on the right side of the panel and the lack of a bushing as it entered the box. Is there any way this is proper due to its short run or is this as bad as I think it is?
  11. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code
    I know its the holidays and you experts probably like to get as far away from work as you can at times like this but was hoping to get an opinion on:

    1) Using decorative plywood/hardboard in a removable manner in place of the sheet rock that embeds the panels into the wall

    2) If there is some reason it's ok to take an outlet circuit run with 12-2 and reduce it down to 14 guage for the foot between the 20A breaker and where the 12-2 romex enters the panel. The reason I ask is a licensed electrician did this work.

    Thanks...
  12. rgsgww

    rgsgww New Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Ia

    1-I don't think there is anything wrong with plywood/hardboard.

    2-This is a fire hazard so it is NOT allowed.

    -Double tapping is ok if the breaker supports it.

    -Bushing/connector is required.

    I would get a REAL electrician to do the work, not a hack.

    No problem, Glad to help.
  13. atuel

    atuel New Member

    Messages:
    56
    Location:
    North Carolina, IPC Code
    Wish I could find one... I've actually had three out to work on this. This first guy was before I owned the place, but the next two havent been any better. Judging from the crap I had these three fixing and the rest of the stuff I still need to fix, the guys that worked on this before were not much better.

    At this point, its not even about saving money as I dont really have the time to being doing the work anyway, but I'm having problems finding someone I can trust to do it right.
  14. rgsgww

    rgsgww New Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Ia


    You can always do it yourself, always be sure your doing it right.
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