Relocating the Electric Panel from the Bathroom

We knew when we bought the house that there were a few pretty substantial issues with the electrical system. Remember from our TISH report, 3 of the 9 required repairs were electrical items:

3. Electrical Service Installation – Missing house side grounding clamp at water meter.
8. Electric Service Installation – Electric panel located in bathroom.
9. Electrical Outlets/Fixtures – Power mast is loose.

Electric panel located in bathroom.

This power mast just needs to be screwed back onto the side of the house.

We were pretty confident that installing a new grounding clamp at the water meter would be easy enough, and we were also prepared to tackle the power mast issue, but we weren’t quite sure what to do about the electric panel in the bathroom.

I searched all over the internet for ideas of how to correct the electric panel in the bathroom. I found a handful of sites that recommended a possible option would be to construct a “small room” (minimum 30″x36″) around the electric panel, so that it (technically) would no longer be in the bathroom. At first, we thought this would be our best option – the bathroom was already small, so we weren’t excited about giving up the space. But the whole room needed renovating, so we thought we could expand the room later to get the space back. We figured that building a “small room” would just be a strategy to buy us time beyond the 90 day limit required by the City to make the repair, and we’d figure out a long-term solution later. However, the more we thought about it, the more we realized that we should probably just hire an electrician to move the panel out of the bathroom.

We hired Ben Sowieja from Luminous Electric to help us out with this job. He was very patient with all of my questions and concerns about the project, and he did a great job with the work. We decided to move the panel about 5 feet to the north, just on the other side of the bathroom’s northern wall – right underneath the stairs down to the basement. Ironically, this is where the original fuse box had been located, which had been abandoned years ago when the new service panel was installed in the bathroom. The old fuse box was now being used as just a large junction box. Check out this mess of boxes and wires:

Old fuse box.

Ben and I agreed that to do the job right, all those boxes needed to be removed, including the plywood they were mounted on. Ben removed all this old junk, and re-installed the panel on a new chunk of plywood on the wall. I told Ben that I was sensitive about the idea of drilling a bunch of new holes through joists since they were supporting the stairs right there, and he was willing to accommodate my request to re-use as many of the existing holes as possible – even if they weren’t in the best possible location.

New panel location.

Here’s the old panel location in the bathroom. Ben only installed a single, non-imposing new junction box that will be hidden from view once we put that lovely ceiling panel back in place:

Electric panel removed!

Ben also tacked that power mast back onto the side of the house for us. He also informed us that since moving the panel required him to open the meter, we’d have to upgrade our meter to a newer model that meets current code. In addition, since we moved the service panel further away from the meter on the back of the house, Ben said he was also required to install an additional whole-house breaker in a separate box on the outside of the house (it’s the lower box in this photo). I wasn’t too excited about the idea of more, bigger boxes on the back of the house, but I think Ben did a good job making it look as professional as possible.

New meter and whole-house breaker.

Overall, we were very happy with the work Ben did for us and I strongly recommend his work. The final invoice came in at $1,150, which was exactly the estimate he had given us a few days earlier.

Well, here’s how we’re coming on our list of TISH repairs:

1. Sump Pumps – Sump Pump lacks a secure cover.
2. Smoke Detectors/CO Detectors – Improperly located smoke detector in the basement.
3. Electrical Service Installation – Missing house side grounding clamp at water meter.
4. Water Supply Piping – Corrosion noted on water piping in areas.
5. Plumbing Fixtures – No backflow device installed at laundry tub.
6. Plumbing Fixtures – Improper air gap on toilet ballcock.
7. Exterior Pluming Backflow Prevention – missing backflow preventers on exterior faucets.
8. Electric Service Installation – Electric panel located in bathroom.
9. Electrical Outlets/Fixtures – Power mast is loose.

We have about 45 more days to finish the rest of these items. Think we’ll make it?

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