Reuben's Home Inspection Blog


Don't Remove The Panel Cover? Yeah Right!

Today I'm going to share a bit of home inspector folklore, and I'm going to set the record straight on electrical inspections.

Panelboard1We Can't Remove Panel Covers?
I've heard from several other home inspectors in Minnesota that we're not supposed to remove electric panel covers.  Yes, that's right.  They say that only a licensed electrician is allowed to do this, and we as home inspectors have no business removing panel covers.

This means that the inspection of the electrical panel is limited to looking at the outside... and that's about it.  It would be like inspecting a house, but not looking inside.   

Where Does This Information Come From?
The closest document I've ever seen that could possibly comment on a home inspector removing a panel cover in Minnesota is a document called THE LAWS AND RULES REGULATING LICENSING OF ELECTRICIANS AND INSPECTION OF ELECTRICAL INSTALLATIONS. There is a section in this document on page 15 that reads 

Subd. 12. Unlicensed individuals. (a) An unlicensed individual means an individual who has not been licensed by the department to perform specific electrical work. An unlicensed individual shall not perform electrical workrequired to be performed by a licensed individual unless the individual has first registered with the department as an unlicensed individual. Thereafter, an unlicense individual shall not perform electrical work required to be performed by a licensed individual unless the work is performed under the direct supervision of an individual actually licensed to perform such work. The licensed individual and unlicensed individual must be employed by the same employer.

So what is electrical work?  This same document actually defines electrical work:

Subd. 17. Electrical work. "Electrical work" means the installing, altering, repairing, planning, or laying out of electrical wiring, apparatus, or equipment for electrical light, heat, power, technology circuits or systems, or other purposes.

Clearly, removing a panel cover to inspect the inside does not constitute electrical work.  The next time you hear someone say that home inspectors in Minnesota aren't allowed to open electrical panels, have 'em prove it.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections - Email - Minnesota Home Inspections 

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections


Comment balloon 89 commentsReuben Saltzman • September 15 2009 06:24AM


If you don't remove the panel cover. . you will  never find any piggy circuits being overloaded.. .meaning two circuits being shared by one breaker because of being undersized

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 9 years ago


As soon as a home buyer brings in a home inspector that doesn't take the elec panel off to inspect the connections, I know that the same home buyer will be paying for an electrician to inspect that panel. 

IF THERE IS TIME remaining in the home inspection contingency. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley,, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 9 years ago

Thanks for sharing this information. Inspectors must look to evaluate the conditions.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) over 9 years ago

I think the inspectors that don't remove the panel probably wouldn't know what they were looking for if they did.

Posted by Dan Callahan (Callahan's Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

I've never had one not remove the panel. It's sometimes quite amazing what they find inside! Very good post.

Posted by Barb Szabo, CRS, E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes (RE/MAX Trinity Brecksville Ohio) over 9 years ago

I think its more of the inspector not wanting to do it. I-spy does it every time period. Thats my local guy I know and trust.

Posted by Chip Jefferson (Gibbs Realty and Auction Company) over 9 years ago

Perhaps the MN home inspection associations should lobby for clearer language.

Posted by Brian Schulman, Lancaster County PA RealEstate Expert 717-951-5552 (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, Lancaster PA) over 9 years ago

Fernando - Exactly.  Along with about a million other problems that can happen inside the panel.

Lenn - I know we've discussed that same aspect before, and we're both on the same page.

Dan - you're probably right!

Barb - and I couldn't imagine someone not doing it, but I know many inspectors that preach against it!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Laura - Good for your inspector.  It sounds like you have a good one to work with.

Brian - That's a great idea.  My father is the president of the Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors, maybe I'll have a chat with him about that!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

What a crock!!!  If you don't remove the panel cover you'll never find the loose connections and double taps and so on that the licensed electricians should have known better than to do.

Posted by June Piper-Brandon, Piecing Dreams One Home at a Time (The Traczyk Team at Remax New Beginnings ) over 9 years ago

Sounds like someone who doesn't WANT the panel removed, eh?

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) over 9 years ago

Reuben - I suppose we'll just ultimately need an electrical inspector, HVAC inspector, etc.  I have heard a few inspectors make such comments, but think most were just uninformed, not trying to avoid the inspection.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru ( over 9 years ago

I'm with Dan Callahan. It sounds like they woulden't know what they were looking at after they opened it.

Posted by Jason Simonson, Realty Executives - Menomonie WI over 9 years ago

I have never been to an inspection when the panel was not removed...and a couple of times the buyers were glad!

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Our inspectors always remove the panel.  Why would they not? 

Posted by Bob Haywood, (McGraw Realtors) over 9 years ago

In Illinois every house inspection I've had in 20 years, the panel box was removed.  This is an important safety issue.

Linda Metallo, Re/max Impact, Lockport, IL.

Posted by Linda Metallo DiBenardo (RE/MAX Impact, Lockport, Illinois) over 9 years ago

<---also in Illinois, and I've never had an inspector balk at removing the panel (except in one case where the panel was "painted shut" and he asked permission to use an exacto to cut the paint prior to opening the cover)

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) over 9 years ago

Read this:

Or some states may have laws like Ohio:

Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago


Every inspector I have used has removed the cover. I don't see how it would be possible to do a proper inspection without doing that. The buyer would have to pay more money to bring in an electrical inspector to finish the job. You can't trust what may be going on in there without seeing it.

Posted by Claudette Millette, Buyer, Broker - Metrowest Mass (The Buyers' Counsel) over 9 years ago

Ruben, the electrical system is one of the most important systems in the home. I would think it were a must to look inside of the panel.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 9 years ago

Our inspectors always open the cover to make sure everything is operating properly.  How else can you sign off on the electrical on an inspection?

Posted by Susan Brown (Keller Williams NE, Kingwood Texas (Humble & Atascocita too)) over 9 years ago

Every inspector should be safely removing a panel unless it isn't accessible. You just can't tell what is going on with the electrical system and assess it properly without doing so. Good post Reuben!

Posted by Randy King (Prokore Inspections) over 9 years ago

Ha.....I agree with  the above comment that Dan made....|the inspectors that don't remove the panel probably wouldn't know what they were looking for if they did."  

Good one!

Patricia Aulson/portsmouth nh homes

Posted by Patricia Aulson, Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes (BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY HOME SERVICES Verani Realty NH Real Estate ) over 9 years ago

My home inspector always removes the panel.  He was a builder for 15 years and now does home inspections.  If you find a qualified home inspector they will know what they are looking for.  Good post. 

Posted by David Monsour, ABR - (Keller Williams Keystone Realty) over 9 years ago

Reuben, I was doing a final walk through on a house yesterday with my buyer and one of the things that was on the "to do list" for the seller was to have an electrician do something with double tapped breakers in the electrical panel box. I opened the panel door but told my buyer I wouldn't know what to look at behind the panel box if we removed it. I suggested we have the inspector come back out for a final inspection of the items that needed repair.

Posted by Jen Bowman, Realtor - Anna Maria Island & Bradenton FL (Keller Williams on the Water) over 9 years ago

The inspectors I regularly use always open the panel.  I've seen some scary things inside them too. If I found an inspector who didn't open the panel, I would feel they aren't doing a thorough job, wonder what else they are skimping on and I would never use him/her again. Thanks for the post.

Posted by Drick Ward, "RealtorDrick" - Experienced Representation (NEPTUNE REALTY) over 9 years ago


Hi Reuben:

Wow...that's interesting!

It's the first thing that home inspectors do when they see the panel.

I'm admiring the labeling of the wires in your photo!

Posted by Toula Rosebrock, Broker/Sales Associate, Realtor, Lacey Township, (Diane Turton, Realtors, Forked River, NJ) over 9 years ago


removal of the panel cover, I agaree is a must, so much could be hiding!

great post!

Posted by Der Hous Inspector LLC, Certified Master Inspector CMI (Der Hous Inspector) over 9 years ago

Reuben, good post.  As a fellow inspector I will make every effort to get to the panel and take the cover off.  99% of the time they are not blocked by stored items but I do get the occasional one I can not get to.  Sellers and agents, make sure we can get to those panels!

Posted by Brad Brinke (ProCraft Inspection Services) over 9 years ago

Wow!  That's where we find our big problems here half the time.  I would definitely not be comfortable with an inspector who did not open the panel box. 

Posted by Joel Weihe, Helping you to use your VA home loan benefits (Realty World Alliance) over 9 years ago


I would not be recommending for a second time if they did not remove the cover on the electical box.  I would agree they have no business going an farther, but one has to see what is inside.

Posted by Bob Force (REALTOR®), The FORCE in Maryland Real Estate (Weichert - McKenna & Vane) over 9 years ago


You're probably are going to tell me I shouldn't do this and you'd be right about that :)

Every time we move, I remove that panel. Why? I do it to check for the piggy backs like Fernanado said. While I have the panel removed I get rid of the lizard eggs, the fried lizard bodies, the fried palmetto bugs and the occasional fried frog :)

After cleaning up that mess I toss a few teaspons of powered bug repellent that my Pest Control buddy gives me. For some reason, Florida critters are really attracted the open spaces inside that panel.

Now go ahead...Tell me how risky all that is. I can take it :)


Posted by "The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW. (President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

No problems in Oklahoma on that. Just had an inspection with some piggy backed breakers for my seller. I would rather have thinkgs fixed than save money before closing. We can save even more money after closing if something goes wrong.

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 9 years ago

Urban Myths of Home Instecpion. Who would have thunk it?  I am glad to know that you went the extra mile to figure it all out. You should let your competition keep on working under their own self imposed restrictions. It should give you quite an advantage.

Posted by Mark Hall, Homes for Sale Vancouver Washington (Elite Realty NW - Keller Williams, Vancouver Washington) over 9 years ago

Makes absolutely no sense that an inspector may not be allowed to remove the panel, they're not doing electrical work, just taking a look for potential issues to protect Buyers. My inspectors have always removed the panel and if I came across one who didn't, we would be looking for another inspector. 

** BTW I am sooooo glad that here in MI we do not find "lizard eggs, fried lizzard bodies, palmetto bugs and the occassional fried frog as TLW does!  We just have boering spiders and spider webs!   Blech!

Our Inspectors work hard and I am very appreciative of them!  Great Post!

Posted by Therese VanderMeer, Realtor-Greater Grand Rapids, MI area communities (Midwest Properties of MI - Grand Rapids) over 9 years ago

If you don't open the cover, you'll never find the bird's nest filled with baby birds!

Posted by Margaret Schumitz (Keller Williams Boise) over 9 years ago

Reuben, being from NC I have never of anything so ridiculous!  The home inspector I use does this all the time and I am thankful!!  Rarely has there been an issue but you don't know unless you look.  Sounds like a case of the electrician's union wanting to get a piece of the home inspection pie... shame on them!

Posted by Tom McClaren, Realtor/Broker putting your needs first (United Country Dowd & Forbes Realty, Edenton, NC) over 9 years ago

Wow...our inspectors always remove the panel cover and always find "interesting" things!  I cannot imagine them not doing this!

Posted by Jeani Codrey, If you're not learning, you're not living! (The Learning Jeani) over 9 years ago

My inspectors always remove the panel cover - I would be surprised if they didn't!

Posted by Emily Lowe, Nashville TN Realtor (The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty) over 9 years ago

I can't believe an inspector would not remove a panel cover.  I don't think an inspector is doing electrical work by removing the panel.  Is taking of an light switch cover electrical work?  I don't think so. My 2 cents.

Posted by Steve Lauver, Omaha Realty -- 402-689-7550 (Nebraska Realty -) over 9 years ago

To everyone that works with a home inspectors that remove panel covers, and all the inspectors that remove panel covers, GOOD!  I'm glad that this is the standard everywhere.

John Mulkey - the more specialists that need to be brought in for further evaluation, the less value the home inspection has.  I'm not saying this should never happen, but it definitely shouldn't be the norm.

Mike Parks - you inspired me to write this blog, thank you for that.  In your blog, you say that removing a panel cover IS work; where does this definition come from?

Jen Bowman - did you get the inspector back out?  Was everything ok?

Toula - Thanks, that's my panel!

TLW - lizard eggs?  fried frogs?  Wow, sounds like a healthy breakfast.  I'm sure that adding a bug repellant to your electrical panel would be frowned upon by the panel manufacturer, but I honestly don't know how this could cause any harm.  No reprimands from me!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Tom - I think you're on to something about the electrician's union.  Mike Parks, another home inspector on AR, has made it clear that in OH, most home inspectors are not allowed to open electrical panels.  Scary.

While there may be a very slight risk of injury from opening an electrical panel cover, the amount of defects home inspectors find on a daily basis far outweigh the potential risk from opening a cover.  If you were going to eliminate all risk at a home inspection, you really wouldn't be doing much.  

Just think about walking on a roof.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago


I find that analagous to a homeowner who tells me that I can't have access to a portion of the home during an appraisal inspection (which does happen on occasion).

Posted by Jesse Skolkin (Independent New York State Certified Real Estate Appraiser) over 9 years ago

Reuben, I suggested getting the inspector back to reinspect for her peace of mind, but she doesn't want to spend the money on a re-inspect. For an additional $175, I think it's worth it, considering there was more like a leak in the roof, plumbing and damaged wood repair that needs to be done.

Posted by Jen Bowman, Realtor - Anna Maria Island & Bradenton FL (Keller Williams on the Water) over 9 years ago

I once had 3 home inspections in a row (all with different clients), where when the inspector took off the electrical box panel, he found rusted and corroded circuit breakers from leakage into the box.

We wouldn't have found out about any of it, if the covers had been left on.

Posted by Dan Weis, (Comey & Shepherd Realtors) over 9 years ago

First about work.  What is the "work environment"? OSHA defines the work environment as "the establishment and other locations where one or more employees are working or are present as a condition of their employment. The work environment includes not only physical locations, but also the equipment or materials used by the employee during the course of his or her work."

I think that I am 'working' when I inspect. Remember that if the cover comes in contact with energized parts a serious arc flash could occur.

From: This is a good info article.

"Residential wiring is undoubtedly the most common and abundant type of electrical installation in the world. Residential occupancies are where people live, families are raised, and where people sleep. Safe electrical installations are just as important in residential occupancies as they are in any other type of occupancy. Safe electrical installations require several key components. Anyone who designs, installs, or inspects electrical systems in dwelling units must be thoroughly familiar with these requirements for safe installations, as found in electrical codes and product safety standards. These codes and standards must be followed carefully to provide an installation that is essentially free from electrical hazards. It is important that qualified persons perform these dwelling unit installations and inspections."

 I wish there was a standard so individuals performing home inspections could be quailfied to inspect electrical.

Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago

Just had an inspector take the cover off an electrical panel and flagged the box because of the way it was wired...still had a bonding bar installed. I am representing the seller and the condo is only 10 years old. The seller who is in her 80's, refused to hire an electrician. I contacted the original electrician, they inspected the box and stated that if the "bar" had been removed all of the electronics would have been fried! Asked the Licensed Electrician why the inspector stated the defect and his comment was "Because he didn't know what he was looking at". Unfortunately, my seller was charged for a service call that shouldn't have been and the inspector won't return my call to cover the bill! Had this problem not been addressed by a licensed electrian - my deal would have fell apart.

Posted by Debbie Konter-Danville, Avon Indiana Agent (FC Tucker) over 9 years ago

Go ahead and remove the cover but read this first:

Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago

My inspector found flashing missing at the bottom of the chimeny on the roof...loose molding next to the bathroom, a lightswitch without a GFI in the bathroom, and not only did he open the panel, he traced every connection to make sure everything in the house was wired right. :-)

Posted by Clint Miller (Real Estate Pipeline, Inc.) over 9 years ago

You smell electrical ozone..something burning, you hear a short, sizzle and the cellar lights are pulsating in and out. But, nope, no need to look behind the curtain, into what's hiding in the panel. Make sure you have your rubber sneakers on and avoid that puddle while you take a peek!

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 9 years ago

I guess that must be a minnesota thing that makes no sense how would you know the condition then??

Posted by Gene perez (Greater Mortgage Solutions & Valley Hills Realty ) over 9 years ago

Great article. I live in NJ and try to use th same home inspector as I've grown to trust him.  I'll ask him about this.

Posted by Peter Di Eduardo (West End Residential) over 9 years ago

Cannot speak for Minnesota, but here in Florida every ASHI inspector I have ever used has always removed the panel cover and inspected the interior of the breaker boxes. Now, they do no "work" and maybe that is the key phrase. If they undid connections, removed or replaced breakers, etc, that might be a different matter. My inspectors do not do that. They just examine it as it is and report their findings to the buyers, along with photos when appropriate. Sound like perhaps the electrician lobby in Minnesota wants to make a few bucks by handling this one. Who's next, the plumbers? Don't touch that box containing the water meter!!

Posted by John Elwell (CENTURY 21 Bill Nye Realty, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Wow, it is really hard to imagine a home 'inspection' that does not look at all parts of the homes. Would this included not looking in the attic because the was a cover over the access?

Posted by James Lyon (Vista Pacific Realty) over 9 years ago

hmmm I found roaches in one.  Of course, it was in a barn...and mine.  There's a reason I don't do inspections.  You never know what's behind curtain number 2.

Posted by Monica Hess, Kentucky's Feng Shui Master (Feng Shui This Kentucky) over 9 years ago

I have never had an inspection where the inspector did not remove the cover. S/He has to sign off on a whole set of issues, and wouldn't be able to do so with the cover on. My clients wouldn't put up with it anyway. They are paying a substantial fee to learn about the property and want to know if the box is wet, if there are double taps, undersized breakers or wrong sized wires. You had a lazy or inept inspector. Good post.

Posted by Millie C. Legenhausen, CRS, GRI, CIPS, MBA, Realtor (Calcagni Real Estate, Hamden, Connecticut) over 9 years ago

Reuben, in my state and in my experience, the inspector always takes the panel off. How else could you do a proper inspection?

Posted by Ann Cordes, Home Ownership is Not a Distant Dream (Century 21 Randall Morris and Associates, Waco) over 9 years ago

Really interersting blog. i really loved reading it.

Posted by home inspection morris county over 9 years ago

Hey Reuben,

Great post. If there are states that do not allow home inspectors to remove the cover of the panel, the inspectors in that state should protest that law because how can they perform a complete electrical inspection without removing the cover? This is definitely short changing their clients.

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

Yes you should remove the cover.

The question is are you qualified to say that it (the electric panel) is properly wired and safe?

If you call not defects out then you have basically said that it is safe.

Bet you will not get a HI to say that it is safe. Remember HI's claim to be Generalists not experts.

By looking inside an electrical panel a HI is acting as an expert.

I'll bet the buyer thinks that the electric panel is safe if it is 'inspected' and no defects are noted.

BTW the above panel does not look to be 'code' compliant. I can see this from my computer in Ohio.

Since this is NOT an electrical forum I do not wish to comment on the violation(s).

Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago

My home inspector is a Master Electrician also....I guess I am covered!

Posted by Damon Gettier, Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE (Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert) over 9 years ago

Jesse S - you've had owners tell you not to look at areas of their house for appraisals?  That's crazy!+

Jen - If I were the buyer, I know I'd want to know.

Mike Parks - forgot the "work environment".  What is "work"?  Thanks for the link with the video from Square D.  I'll be sure to watch it soon, probably not tonight though.

Debbie - what a frustrating experience.  

Peter - The inspectors that don't open panel covers here are definitely the minority.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Hi Reuben,

Congrats on your feature, you have so many comments, too many for me to read. This is the very first time I've heard anything like this, in my area of So Cal our inspectors have always inspected the panels. At least all I've come across, about as long as inspectors have been around, 30+ years for me.

Thanks for the heads up!

Posted by Lynda Eisenmann, Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co (Preferred Home Brokers) over 9 years ago



99% of covers are removable.  I never remove one unless I test the cover first though.  I've had at least three that were "live" via a tester and the cover stayed on.

Then again there was one that tested ok, and upon removing the "Dead Man Cover" retaining screw (it happened to be a coarse thread drywall screw - flag) knicked the insulation to the inside 100 amp feed  and....flash....on the floor I went. 

Luckily, my client or agent were about 10 feet away.  I recovered in about 2 minutes and finished the inspection.


PLEASE always remember two things:   1/ NEVER let anyone else at the inspection offer to help an inspector reinstall the cover and 2/ Don't ever assume the work inside is ok just because there's an independent electrical underwriter/municipal inspector sticker on the box.  Oversights can be missed and stickers can be "obtained".

Every week at least one realtor and/or customer offers to help put the cover back on.  NO THANK YOU.

I don't need an accident.  I am fully insured, have not had a claim and want to keep it that way!

Enjoyed the post.




Posted by David Andrick - Pres. A1 Home Inspection Svcs. over 9 years ago

John Elwell - You're right on when you talk about what is "work" and what isn't.

Monica - Ha!  

Ann Cordes - Without pulling the panel cover, I'd call it an incomplete inspection.

Eric Middleton - If Home Inspectors couldn't remove panel covers in my state state, you can bet I'd make a big deal about it.

Mike Parks - about your last comment in bold, underlined, and italics - what is your point?

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

David - I laughed reading your response about agents and customers offering to help replace the panel cover.  This always happens to me too. 

I pretty much ignore the municipal inspection stickers.  All they mean is that the municipal inspector didn't find any code violations with the work they were inspecting at the time they did their inspection.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

If my inspector did not remove the panel cover, two things would happen in rapid succession:

1.  I would take it off myself.

2.  I would have a new inspector.

Posted by Mike Jaquish, 919-880-2769 Cary, NC, Real Estate (Realty Arts) over 9 years ago

If I was a buyer and found out about a problem within the panel after closing you better believe I would be on the phone right away calling the inspector.  Thanks for the post I will be sure and remind my inspector on the next go-around. 

Posted by Jon Sutton (EXP Realty LLC) over 9 years ago


I would have failed (not approved) that installation.

Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago

From Square D "Arc flash incidents typically occur in applications above 120V and can occur when electrical equipment is being serviced or inspected."


Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago

Reuben great post.  This "non-issue" was completely and unequivocally put to rest in the State of Washington by the Department of Labor and Industries.  The bottom line is that anyone "properly trained" is allowed to take off the covers----as is required by our Standards of Practice.  OSHA is typiclly of no concern and only might be of concern with an inspector that had employees.  Most inspectors are not employees.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

I bet that attorneys would love this "non-issue". If your state has no standards for electrical inspections I feel for the public in your state.

Ohio has a higher standard. Thank God!

If you are a corporation I'll bet that you are an employee.

Once again I will say do whatever you want.

OR pay your attorney to defend you.

"properly trained" does this also mean competent?

I have decided to stop beating this 'dead horse'.

Good luck to you all.

Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago

Charles - Thanks, I'm glad to hear it's a clear issue where you live!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago


The person in charge of this matter, for labor and industries, who is enforcing OSHA rules, stated before the home inspector licensing board that home inspectors may remove covers. He said that the only concern would be if a person was an "untrained" employee. As a board member, I asked him about OSHA rules that some cited. He smiled and asked me what I thought he was presenting...he said that L&I is enforcing OSHA rules. That said, Mike is right that there is real danger lurking in some panels.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Steven - good info, thanks!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

I have been known to tilt at a few windmills in my day.  I do my best to make them worthy causes.  Mike you have been pursuing this cause for quite a while now----all over the internet.  Are you really the only person in the country "qualified" to take a panel cover off?  I assure you the state of WA is just as interested in keeping the public safe as much as your state is.  Being an employee of my own corporation is no where near the same kind of employee that OSHA cares about----I am still considered self employed.  If you don't believe me call OSHA and ask them.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 9 years ago

No I am not the only one.

I have put the information out there and NOW  is the time for others to decide how to act.

Again good luck.

Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago

Massachusetts Home Inspectors are required to remove that panel covers or provide a reason why the panel cover was not removed.

Excerpts from the MA Regulation

 The Inspector shall Observe the Readily Accessible and Observable Electrical Systems and Components:
    3.   The service equipment, grounding system, main overcurrent device, and the interior of the service and distribution panels (by removing the enclosure covers).
The Inspector shall:
    2.   Note:
        a.   The reason(s) for not removing any panel covers.

Posted by Jim Mushinsky (Centsable Inspection) over 9 years ago


So basically, if you do not remove the panel cover as an inspector bach there, then you are not complying with your standards of practice or the law. Seems that pretty well puts a cork in the bottle in your state. Do it or risk complaints and fines.

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 9 years ago

Jim - it sounds like you guys have it figured in MA.  I like it.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

Most of us have it figured out.  Get the training, know what you're doing, then go do it.

BUT, there's always a dead horse beater around!



Posted by Erby Crofutt, The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY (B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing ( over 9 years ago

Erby - I have no idea what you're talking about ;)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago


Thats a jab at me.

Funny how insults are given when you have no facts.

Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago

Since I respect Joe Tedesco maybe everyone should take his advice here:

NFPA 73 Electrical Inspection Code for Existing Dwellings 2006 Edition


From Jerry Peck speaking to Joe Tedesco:

"Better than me saying what I did (which was not the "safe" way) would be for you to explain *the proper and safe way* to inspect an energized panel, including photos of the proper PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) to wear."

Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago

I occassionally have electricians tell me I can't take off a panel cover.  Others tell me I can't walk a roof without a safety line.

I just tell them to report me.

Gets quiet after that and I can get some work done.

Posted by Paul Duffau, Caring for People, Educating about Homes (Safe@Home Inspections, LLC in SE Washington) over 9 years ago

And how many times have you been reported, Paul.   I'd guess zero.

Posted by Erby Crofutt, The Central Kentucky Home Inspector, Lexington KY (B4 U Close Home Inspections&Radon Testing ( over 9 years ago

From the Connecticut Home Inspector Standards of Practice

a. The inspector shall inspect the service drop; the service entrance conductors, cables, and raceways; the service equipment and main disconnects; the service grounding; the interior components of service panels and sub panels; the conductors; the overcurrent protection devices; a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches, and receptacles; and the ground fault circuit interrupters.

That's all I need to know!

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 9 years ago

Paul - I like you approach.

James - looks pretty similar to MA.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 9 years ago

For those in NC I just found this. The forum is password protected or I would include a link.

"As of now we can't unless you want to jump through hoops: (NC)

State Building Code. - If a licensee includes a deficiency in the written report of a home inspection that is stated as a violation of the North Carolina State Residential Building Code, the licensee must do all of the following:

(1) Determine the date of construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home.
(2) Determine the State Building Code in effect at the time of construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home.
(3) Conduct the home inspection using the building codes in effect at the time of the construction, renovation, and any subsequent installation or replacement of any system or component of the home.

In order to fully inform the client, if the licensee describes a deficiency as a violation of the State Building Code in the written report, then the report shall include the information described in subdivision (1) of this subsection and photocopies of the relevant provisions of the State Building Code used pursuant to subdivision (2) of this subsection to determine any violation stated in the report. The Board may adopt rules that are more restrictive on the use of the State Building Code by home inspectors."

Posted by Mike Parks, Inspector (Residential Building Inspectors) over 9 years ago