I have a rental house that I had the electric service box replaced 20
years ago. At that time I paid $450 for a new box installed with all
new breakers and a new service gizmo for the meter to sit in. It's a
100 AMP service. It's on the outside exposed to the weather. It's
mounted on the back outside wall of the house, very easy to get to,
straight pipe 4' up to the roof for the service line connection.
About 7 years ago I had to replace a couple circuit breakers in it
because they got corroded and would no longer function (they'd blow
and you couldn't reset them). This month the tenant called and said
the AC had stopped working and they reset the breaker but it just blew
again. I took a look at the box and it was clear that the breaker for
the AC (50 AMP) and the main breaker (100) were overheating. I pulled
them and bought replacements. I had a heck of a time getting the new
breakers to seat and finally figured out that the buss bar had gotten
so hot that it had deformed. I bent it back and was able to get the
breakers to seat and fired up everything. The AC and the rest of the
house were working again. There were no sparks flying or other
apparent issues and I left. Next day the tenant called to say the AC
was out again. Went over and the new breakers were both overheated
and plastic cases melted like the old ones. Obviously the box was
I went thru the phone book and called an electrician whose ad sounded
reasonable. $55 to look, applied toward work if he did the job. So
he comes by and is rude to my tenant. He calls me to say he's looked
it over and it needs the box rebuilt or replaced. So far nothing
surprising. I ask how much.... He wants $1700 to rebuild the box or
$4000 to put a new box in. I'm not sure I'm hearing this right... so
I go over it with him again. I ask him how much some of the items
are. I don't recall all of the things he listed but he quoted the
main 100 AMP breaker as a $900 item. Said it would take a couple days
to do the work. I told him I'd get back to him. My tenant said he
seemed to get mad as he was talking to me. He said the existing box
was unsafe and he wouldn't reconnect things.
I went by later after work and found that he had just cut the wires
off the breakers instead of loosening the screws and removing them
properly. My tenant told me again how rude he was. Told them I'd
need to find another electrician since this guy seemed WAY too high. I
found another electrician that said they could come out in an hour.
They did, they looked at the box and agreed it needed replacement.
They said they could replace it if I wanted or I could just keep it
for the service entrance and they would install a sub panel next to
it, which would actually be cheaper and that they could do it in about
2 hours, they needed to run and get a few parts. They were done in 2
hours and the bill came to $750, about what I had originally thought
it would cost based on what it cost me 20 years ago.
Has anyone run into any crooks more crooked then the first electrician
who wanted $4000????