Today I’m going to share a bit of home inspector folklore, and I’m going to set the record straight on electrical inspections.
We 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 panel cover and the circuit breakers… and that’s about it. It would be like inspecting a house, but not actually 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 work required to be performed by a licensed individual unless the individual has first registered with the department as an unlicensed individual. Thereafter, an unlicensed 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.
Removing a panel cover to inspect the inside does not constitute electrical work.
ASHI SOP (7.1.A.5) says the inspector shall inspect interior components of service panels and subpanels.
NAHI SOP (9.2.3) says the inspector will inspect the main and branch circuit conductors for proper over-current protection and condition by visual observation after removal of the readily accessible main and sub electric panel cover(s).
The bottom line is that if your home inspector is a member of ASHI or NAHI, or even claims to follow their standards of practice, they should be inspecting the interior of the electric panels.