Proper repair of a burnt conductor in a main panel

by Carl Hamilton   Last Updated May 15, 2019 15:21 PM

What are compliant methods of repairing conductors with damaged insulation? Screw to conductor contact discovered when turning power back on after remodel. An irrigation company punched a screw through the panel and directly into a conductor. The conductor is exposed with blacking.

Answers 1

This is easy enough if a branch circuit.
Turn the breaker off (I hope it’s not the main service conductors).
Cut the wire where the damage is & strip off the insulation, if the wire is long enough use a wire nut and reconnect the wires together. This is legal in the service panel and code compliant.
If the wire is now too short, a new piece that is the same gauge will be needed to be spliced, usually with a wire nut to the breaker.
If it is the service conductors it just got a lot harder. The power may need to be shutdown by the power company, service conductors rarely have extra wire for a repair so the wire may need to be replaced back to a point it can be spliced, possibly in the panel with a split bolt or Polaris type connector. I would suggest Polaris for DIY since they just need to be torqued, while split bolts require taping and usually 2/3 types of expensive tape and I rarely see DIY do this correctly. Once the repair is complete turn the power back on.
Note usually when a screw causes a short the wire is damaged. This is why we cut it and splice it back together. Covering with tape hides the fact that the wire can no longer safely carry the rated load.

Ed Beal
Ed Beal
May 15, 2019 14:41 PM

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