Access panel behind load center on exterior wall

Old 08-23-17, 12:32 PM
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Access panel behind load center on exterior wall

During construction of house 2 years ago the electrician somehow screwed into a live wire when finishing the load center which is located outside on an exterior wall of house. He didnt get hurt but there was a nice arc flash mark on the hardi-plank siding. I happened to be there when it happened and ran around to see what happened. I was concerned that there may be some hidden damage but builder and electrician assured me they would check and replace anything damaged. Within a few weeks after moving in the hot water heater breaker tripped and wouldnt stay closed, they ended up finding that the romex supplying the hot water heater was damaged inside the wall so they installed a junction box in attic, and ran new wire down wall to load center. Again I asked if potential for additional damage and they said everything checked out. The interior wall on the back side of the load center is the side wall of a double door closet in a spare bedroom. I noticed they ended up cutting a small hole in the drywall (apparently to help fish) and just covered it with a blank box/plastic cover. Subsequently within 5 months after moving in and again last month, the circuit that feeds my office receptacles has tripped and I have had electrical device(s) fried and required replacement. The first time was during a bad lightning storm but the most recent one I dont believe anything was going on weather wise.

I am now paranoid that there is remaining damage behind the wall in romex feeders and want to inspect the wiring in the wall. If I cutout squares in the drywall in the closet to inspect the wiring behind the load center, is it legal to install those plastic access panels in the cutout squares to save from doing drywall repair?
Also, didnt know if there was any electrical checks that I could perform with my multi-meter that might show me something?
Thanks in advance
Old 08-23-17, 12:52 PM
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Damaged romex is unlikely to have caused the problems with the electronics -- much more likely that was the storm. You can install plastic panels if you open the drywall, but I don't think anything you described suggests any more cable damage. Do you have AFCI breakers in your panel? Breakers with both a TEST button and switch handle?
Old 08-23-17, 01:36 PM
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Yes, pretty much all the smaller receptacle / lighting circuits have the AFCI breakers, Thanks
Old 08-23-17, 03:45 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Fortunately since you have mostly AFCI breakers..... all those circuits including all associated wiring is protected against arcing.

Unfortunately you'll find out that AFCI breakers can trip randomly or what appears to be randomly. Keep track of which AFCI breakers are tripping and what is connected to them that could cause tripping. Some appliances can cause unexpected tripping.

An access panel behind a panel is great thing to have. There's always future access to that location. Being on an outside wall it will probably need to be insulated behind it.
Old 08-24-17, 09:48 AM
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I would cut a nice big 12" square access hole and cover it with something like this afterwards

14 in. x 14 in. Spring Loaded Plastic Access Panel-APS14 - The Home Depot

Having a little 2" hole is nice for fishing wires, but not useful for much else. This will allow you to ensure all the wiring is in good condition and will help with future upgrades as well.

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