Had an electrician the other day at house to install a new breaker, wire,
and outlet box in the basement.
He opened the circuit breaker panel, pulled the wire in, stripped it, and
hooked up the new breaker.. .without ever shutting off any of the other
electricity in the house.
Is this dangerous? Or is it standard procedure for experienced
electricians? Or did he subject himself and my house to a lot of risk?
No danger, no risk *if* the person knows what they're doing.
You can safely grab a breaker in a way where your fingers don't
come anywhere near the hot conductors inside the service panel.
When he seated it into place, there wuldn't be any cause for
a spark or surge because there's no current flowing at the time.
So yes, for somebody experienced, it is easily done that way. But
since you asked, that means you're not experienced, so you should
either keep using an electrician or if you decide to tackle the
next one yourself, absolutely turn off the main breaker.
(Stand by for my leg humping pets, they'll be along shortly to
I'm not an electrician, but I turn of the Main. the main (no pun intended)
reason is that there are a lot of electrically hot surfaces in the box, and
if you're fishing in romex wire, particlarly with the bare ground, it seems
too easy to me to bump something and get a nasty shock.
If I were doing this for a living, on a daily basis, I'd figure out how to
do it with the juice on.
Which is exactly what the licensed eeeelectrician (sic!) did when he
was adding a subpanel for my new workshop.
I was outside the garage talking with his assistant and we heard what
sounded like a rifle shot within. Dashing inside we found the
electrician, ashen-faced but unharmed. Apparently one of those very
stiff and heavy #4 wires he had pulled into the box had bounced onto
Verrrry carefully, is how.
And anyway, what was the point? We are used to Pacfic Power "turning
off" the juice a couple times per week. I'm a master at reprogramming
all the TV's, clocks, etc., in the house.
And restarting downloads! ;-)
--John W. Wells
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