Extent of electrical inspections

As a student and someone yet to start in the inspection industry in Australia, I have a rather general question for your members regarding the electrical component of a general pre-purchase home inspection.

In terms of the amount of detail you appear to go into over there regarding the compliance and condition of electrical panels and wiring in a house, the Australian reports I’ve seen seem almost superficial by comparison.

For example, over here reports seem to be mostly limited to the panel’s location, the existence and/or performance of safety switches (RCDs or GFCIs), the functioning of power points (receptacles) and light fittings, reporting on suspicious attic (roof space) wiring and sometimes the performance of appliances, water heaters, aircons etc. I’ve yet to see any reference, for example, to anything behind the dead front in Australian reports – grounding, wiring damage, double taps, etc.

I realise that this is OK and not required according to your SOP (similarly in the Australian Standards), yet your courses and inspectors seem to examine it in much more detail than we seem to over here. Am I missing something? Or are both countries similar in their approach.

For anyone who has had experience with Australian conditions or contact with Australian inspectors, is there a difference? If so, could it be a liability issue? Safety issue? Regulation issue?

Thanks in advance.

SoP’s can vary state by state in the US, in Florida removal of the dead-front cover and all accessible panels is required per the Florida Administrative Code which governs Home Inspectors in our state…so to speak. Any SoP that drops below those requirements is invalid in our state, Internachi be on that list. If there are no regulations in Australia then it’s open game as to what is and isn’t going to be acceptable. The Standard of Care is a different story, this can be described as the same level of workmanship or expertise that can be expected by a similar workman or professional in the same field of practice…more like what your competition is doing.

You’re right Robert - there are no inspection regulations for existing houses over here, so it probably has evolved over time as some sort of generally accepted defacto standard. Also, our minimum supply voltage over here is 240V, which would tend to make our wattages higher on average than yours (if I understand the theory correctly) and therefore more risky to inspect behind the dead front. Which would rule out the safety explanation. No?

Once the cover is off, it really doesn’t matter what the voltage is…everything is exposed. With no standards or licensing…it’s the wild west. But it does bring up an interesting point, home inspectors due owe their profession to contractors as that’s where it all started. My suggestion is to acquire a contractors license and as many certifications through the state/county/AHJ as you possible can and always be educating yourself on codes and standards…

SOPs are a minimum standard.

Electrical wiring can present a real and potential safety hazard, more so than anything else found in a typical home and understanding it beyond the minimum benefits everyone. Its too easy to fake or pass bad and unsafe wiring if you only look superficially.

My guess as to why deadfronts are mostly not required to removed by most sops is because of the real and potential dangers there which is ironically the same reason why it should be removed and inspected. Nachi doesn’t want to be responsible for telling some dumbass to remove a cover who ends up hurting themselves or worse.

Hello Gary from down under!

I think most inspectors here remove the dead front to examine, the only reason I wouldn’t is if there were an apparent safety hazard to doing so. Such as water present on around the panel, buzzing sounds, heat coming off the panel etc.

And of course once the panel is exposed I’ll always report on defects found with photos.

Thats “my” minimum standard regardless of any other…

So what do you have in your entrance panel. Is it only 240 volts, or do you have a double 240 volt feed, with 480 volts across the two bus bars.

In America or Canada, the transformer has a centre tap, so the lower current appliances have 120 volts. But as there are two bus bars, there is 240 volts across the two bus bars, which is used for ranges, and all heavy appliances. This means that in all American and Canadian panels, 240 volts is present. On commercial inspections this can rise to higher voltages.

The voltages we see if doing residential and commercial are:
120 & 208 if three phase (commercial, apartments, condos, etc.)
120 & 240 if single phase
230 & 400
240 & 415
277 & 480
347 & 600

Thanks Frank, I agree absolutely.

Thanks Thomas. That would be the approach I would like to see - to me, anything beyond observation and photos (IR or otherwise ) is probably an electricians territory anyway.

I carry a couple cones and place them around me.

Twice I have had the deadfront off, and my inquisitive client has been beside me, reaching out to (almost) touch a double tap or something else I was pointing to.

Now, if the client is present, I ask them to maintain a distance, and remind them that touching anything will not be a smashed finger or sprained toe-it can mean DEATH.