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My breaker panel for my house is covered partially by drywall. We are located in maryland but this house is built in the 80s so I’m guessing code back then was not super strict about this. The basement wall was originally drywall And then partially bricked over for a fireplace near it. The drywall covers part of the panel such that the panel cover screws over the drywall. I am thinking this could be a fire concern. I have attached the pic.

Contemplating using my oscillating cutter to Carefully trim out the remaining pieces of drywall so the cover sits directly on the panel but not sure if worth doing if not an issue. Also considering potentially having panel replaced to include latest Afci/gfci protection but not sure if that’s really worth it since I haven’t had many issues.

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**Updated remove drywall enter image description here

Wire nutted the two lose wires that went to old 40amp breaker.

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    Drywall doesn’t burn but it will disintegrate into a powder at a fairly high temperature. BUT that wood around it is WOOD. You need the metal cover panel that goes with the box. – Alaska Man Jan 24 at 19:28
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    Can you get us photos of the labeling on the left rear of the box and on the inside of the door please? – ThreePhaseEel Jan 24 at 19:29
  • @alaska man I have the metal cover panel. I unscrewed it from the drywall. It doesn’t sit flush to the panel but on top of the drywall. – Irish Redneck Jan 24 at 19:30
  • @threephaseeel added more pics – Irish Redneck Jan 24 at 19:35
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Holy smoke, you can't do that!!!

No! The problem is the panel cover needs to be at a certain height from the breakers to prevent this from happening every time you flip a breaker to "off".

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Whoever did that with the cover needs to stop doing electrical.

All the drywall needs to be cut back, so that the panel deadfront can bolt up flush as intended.

There's also a huge working-space issue here.

Every panel needs a working space of

  • 30" width (does not need to be centered on the panel)
  • 6'6" (78") height floor to ceiling; can be up a step
  • 36" depth

This area must be kept clear AT ALL TIMES. No stacking stuff there.

So you will need to demo some of that brick wall, or, whatever is to the left. Push out that inset space so the inside dimensions of that space are 30" wide x 78" tall. And then do whatever finishing you need to do for building-code reasons.

It's a CH panel. Best in the world.

You certainly shouldn't downgrade to a lesser panel. So if you do want to upgrade, say for panel spaces, change to another CH.

As far as GFCI/AFCI, CH is fully supported and all that stuff is available.

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  • So the space currently there is 34 inches tall by 24 inches wide. Looks like I would have to have some of the side bricks removed and the top. There is also a stud to the right as you can see in the pics slightly, is that allowable? – Irish Redneck Jan 24 at 19:52
  • Stud to the right of the panel is fine as long as it's flush with the panel. Normally one would install a flush mount panel proud of the stud by (drywall thickness here). Perhaps with some clever manipulation this panel could be pulled out 1/2" or so to clear the drywall. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 24 at 20:21
  • I am going to cut away that drywall little by little and just get the cover panel flush to panel for now. I’m worried about getting drywall dust in the box. Is it okay to shop vac out the debris and drywall dust? Also seeing a lot of cob webs like the one right by the main lines coming in(not sure if that could ever become conductive enough). Lastly there is a red and black cable loose in this box that went to a old breaker I assume, no current so just wire nut? Just want to get this in an okay state since we are having a baby in two weeks and can’t really have electrician over currently. – Irish Redneck Jan 24 at 20:30
  • Sorry for the numerous sub questions. Just figure I could pick your brain since it’s all kind of in this post and not worth a independent thread. – Irish Redneck Jan 24 at 20:35
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    @Irish. You want CHFN115DF or CHFN120DF – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jan 29 at 0:41
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You're going to need to unmount this box and move it forward slightly, because there's no other way out of this situation

The root cause of your issues is that the drywall was inserted as an (improper) "shim" to work around the fact that your breaker panel was mounted too deeply into the wall. You see, not only does the current situation violate NEC 312.4 due to the hole in the top left by the missing drywall, but most plug-on breakers rely on the cover at least somewhat to prevent breakers from "tipping" out as Harper illustrates (the friction of the jaws on the stab also helps retain the breaker, but putting forces on that isn't good for the electrical contact surface there). Furthermore, whacking a replacement surface mount cover on the box is no good because that causes the finish surface of the wall to infringe on the NEC 110.26(A) clear working space of the panel, even if you were OK with living with the finish issues a surface mounted enclosure poses when mounted in a finished wall.

So, you'll need to have your electric utility kill power at your meter to let you adjust how this panel's mounted; fortunately, most power companies can do that for free these days as long as you call within normal business hours, thanks to the rise of smart meters. Once the power's off, you can then remove the existing mounting screws, slide ½" plywood shims behind the panel, then screw the panel back in through the shims so that it sits flush with the finish wall. With that out of the way, you can mount the flush cover back to the box and have it mostly corrected, although there is merit to patching the hole above the box once you have it moved forward to the correct depth.

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  • So as mentioned in my comment above. Removing the drywall has allowed me to put the cover on flush with the box itself. Fits well but now I need screws lol. Whoever did this probably wasn’t thinking about the long term. – Irish Redneck Jan 24 at 22:09
  • @IrishRedneck -- try ordering a set of Eaton LCCS through your local supply house – ThreePhaseEel Jan 30 at 19:04

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