Electrical – Does drywall surrounding breaker panel pose fire risk


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

Best Answer

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.