Electrical Panel Repair Basics

Your home’s electrical panel is responsible for keeping your lights, appliances, and other electronics working properly. If your electrical panel experiences any issues, like circuit breakers tripping frequently, it may be time to get it repaired or replaced.

Electrical Panel Repair

A panel repair process involves removing the damaged area, reshaping, and refinishing. This is a detailed job that requires specialized tools and knowledge.

One of the first things a technician does when they get to work on a panel is apply primer. This is important because it can help with the final look of the car’s paint job and help prevent rust from developing in the damaged area. Using the correct abrasive material and grit size is essential as well. It’s also critical to avoid touching freshly sanded panels with bare hands, as this can transmit oils that will inhibit the ability of the new paint to stick.

The paint is then applied and blended in with the rest of the vehicle’s bodywork, and then a clearcoat is applied. The quality of the clearcoat is crucial, and experienced technicians know how to use a high-quality spray booth with a temperature-controlled curing oven to ensure the best results. They’re also familiar with the different types of clearcoat chemistry, including 2K polyurethane and fast-drying acrylics.

After the final coat is applied, the repaired panel will be reassembled and any body hardware that has been removed will be refitted. Finally, the re-painting process begins again, and it’s essential that the new paint matches the existing color code. The best auto body shops have advanced tools that make this much easier, including digital color matching systems that help ensure the right blend.

Sometimes it’s not possible or desirable to repair a damaged panel, and in those cases it may be better to replace the part. A specialised panel repair shop can advise the customer on this and offer quotes for either repairs or replacement. For rare or bespoke vehicles, replacing the panel with a second hand part can be an attractive option if it’s more cost effective.

Filler

Body filler (known by many as Bondo) is one of the most common and useful tools used when a panel cannot be replaced. Traditionally, lead was used to smooth out low spots and creases in cars and trucks but since this is a very hazardous process, plastic 2-part body filler was developed that performs the same function. The first step is to mix the solution according to the manufacturer’s instructions, then apply it to the surface. Using the correct technique, the filler can be sanded and blended with the surrounding surface to create a seamless repair. It’s important to properly feather edge the repaired area with 220- to 240-grit sandpaper on a DA sander before priming and painting. This will help avoid premature rusting and other long-term issues.

Welding

Welded connections play a significant role in the manufacturing processes of many types of parts, structures, and equipment. Unfortunately, mechanical and structural failures are a fact of life in the industrialized world, and frequent breakdowns and repairs are often necessary to maintain productive operations. Therefore, engineers and field technicians in a variety of business industries benefit from having a basic level of understanding of the characteristics of a successful weld repair, welding fundamentals, and the associated challenges of executing field repairs.

In most instances, the physical damage that needs to be repaired during a panel repair process is obvious and can be identified easily. However, other damages may not be as visible. These can include things like melted plastic, burned wires, and deformed or degraded electrical components or housings. It is important to check for these issues and repair them prior to welding to avoid potential short circuits or system malfunctions.

It is also important to take the time to thoroughly clean all areas to be welded. This will not only remove dirt and debris, but it will also prevent rust from forming, which can cause additional structural problems in the future. Using the right chemicals and tools to remove paint, rust, and contamination will help to ensure that the surface is ready for welding.

Once the area to be welded has been cleaned, it is then time to perform the actual welding. There are a number of different types of welding used in panel repair, including spot welds and fillet welding. The type of welding used will depend on the location and the structure of the component, as well as the material being used.

When performing spot welds, the puddle of molten metal should be carefully controlled to prevent burning or over-heating of surrounding surfaces. In some cases, the weld may need to be cooled by applying ice packs or compressed air. In addition, it is important to keep the weld cool in order to prevent distortion of the panel being welded and the resulting loss of strength.

In addition to the welds themselves, body filler and sanding will be needed to finish off the panel. The sanding process should also be conducted with care in order to ensure that the sanded areas blend in with the original panels. Finally, any bare metal should be primed in order to prevent corrosion.

Bonding

When you need panel repair it is important to use the best product and techniques available to get the job done correctly. This includes using the right adhesive. Several body repair products are available that bond metal surfaces together. Adhesive manufacturers claim that bonding is a faster alternative to welding and provides better corrosion resistance. However, only a few vehicle manufacturers endorse the process. In fact, some manufactures specifically advise against the use of adhesive bonding in their repair processes.

If you have a broken electrical service panel, shut off power at the main breaker or switch, and remove the panel cover. Shut off the individual circuits that control lights and appliances in each room, and jot down the names of the circuits on a map of your home. Be sure to wear rubber-soled shoes and do not stand in wet areas near the panel, as water is a good conductor of electricity.

Make sure you have access to all the necessary tools and parts to complete the work before starting. Remove all paint, rust and contamination from the surface of the replacement panel and the area on the vehicle that will be bonded to it. Clean the area with adhesive cleaner to prepare for bonding.

Before applying the adhesive, dry fit and clamp the part to make sure that it fits well. If the area to be bonded has a flange, it will need to be hemmed later. In addition, the flange should be scuffed to minimize the risk of future failure due to paint peeling or corrosion.

Apply a thick bead of adhesive to the bare surface of the replacement panel and a thin bead to the bare surface of the vehicle inner structure. If any flanges will be welded, those areas should be sprayed with weld-thru coating before applying the adhesive. In some cases, the flanges can be spot-welded through a panel bonding adhesive, so the weld-thru coat is not needed.