Missing cover for electrical box could be expensive fix

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Q: My mother’s condo is about 30 years old. The electrical box has a cover that has fallen off. The box says it is Westinghouse Model No. 16-30AFNASN. The approximate dimensions are 15 inches wide by 16 inches high. Do you know where we can find a replacement? Or does the whole electrical box have to be replaced?

A: Here’s a bet that the cover didn’t fall off but was instead taken off by a painter and never put back on. It could turn out to be an expensive lapse.

Westinghouse’s electrical panel business is now part of Eaton, thanks to a series of purchases and mergers. Eaton does still sell some replacement covers for Westinghouse boxes. But the model number you provided isn’t helpful, a customer service representative at Eaton said. You would need the catalogue number, which he said is on the right-hand frame of the unit. It should say “Cat number,” followed by a code that starts with CH. Armed with the number, call EatonCare, the company’s customer service office, at 877-386-2273 to see whether a replacement cover is available.

There are companies that specialize in used electrical equipment, but they tend to focus on circuit breakers and other equipment, not covers.

If you can find an exact replacement, you should be able to screw it on yourself. If you can’t find one, you will need to replace the panel if you want the electrical system to pass a safety inspection in advance of a sale, according to L&S Electrical Services. A new panel, also known as a load center, could cost about $950.

If you or your mother simply cannot afford that and won’t need a safety inspection any time soon, you might be able to find a cover that fits reasonably well and would at least be better than leaving the box uncovered. One cover that might work is for a Square D box that is 15.44 inches wide and 16.12 inches tall; it sells for $13 on Zoro.com. But you would need to make sure that the opening to turn circuit breakers on or off lines up with the spacing on the existing box.

Washington Post