As many of my readers know, I work in Zephyrhills and we have many mobile home subdivisions, most of which are occupied by retirees. However, we have quite a few that have residents of all ages.
One thing that most of these will have in common is the fact that behind the home is where the electrical lines often run. Usually underground, but sometimes with wires from poles. But, unlike conventional homes where the meter and main breaker box are attached to the home, with these mobiles, the meter and breaker box are usually on a short pole or support behind the mobiles. In a typical park they will be placed in groups of 4 with each one serving a home in each corner. It is at this box that most homeowners can cut the power to their entire home.
On conventional homes, these boxes are often attached right to the structure which can offer some protection from the elements. However, sitting on a pole out in the open behind a mobile home, these other boxes can really take a beating from the elements. They are sturdy and can take a beating, but like the great pyramids of Egypt, eventually, the rain, sun, temperature changes, wind, etc take their toll.
Most home buyers will have a professional inspection done before they close on a purchase. On a recent inspection, Stephen Brown of Accuchek Home Inspection Service here in Zephyrhills found such a problem. As you can see from his pictures to the left, there was severe corrosion on the breaker box. So much so that a child could have reached inside and possibly have been electrocuted. And once the integrity of the metal is compromised, the destruction only accelerates. Of course, the buyer wanted the box replaced and the seller, a very nice and reasonable person, agreed to take care of it.
In our area, the cost to repair this box can run between $500 and $600, and requires the use of a licensed electrician. How much cheaper it would have been if the box had been inspected from time-to-time by a professional, and a coat of protective paint applied. A lot cheaper than the replacement cost I bet. Good maintenance is the key!
This is the third time I have seen this occur. On one home I warned the owner, and he caught the problem early, and I noticed that he had indeed painted the box to protect it.
Since you are dealing with electricity here, and to examine the interior of the box a panel will likely need to be removed, I recommend that you either have a professional home inspector or a licensed electrician do the removal of the inner protective plate to check for damage. Checking inside is important since these boxes are not water-tight and if water sits and sits on the lower interior of the box it can only hasten the corrosion that can take place. So a coat of paint on the lower interior may also be necessary. The electrician or inspector can best advise you on what needs to be done.
So be observant of your exterior electrical boxes, and have them checked regularly. If you see rust on the outside of the box in any location, that should be a warning to get things checked out. Remember, a coat of metal paint is hundreds of dollars less than replacing the entire box. It can also diminish the possibility that someone could be seriously injured or killed. To the left you can see the new box the owner bought. Trust me. Paint is a lot cheaper!
If you would like to speak with Stephen Brown of Accuchek Home Inspection Service, feel free to call him at: 813-783-2662. He is certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and can be a great resource for you.
John Elwell - REALTOR
Bill Nye Realty, Inc.
Licensed in Florida