Panel Clearance

Here is a pic from an inspection I recently completed. Obviously the required clearances to the panel are not being followed. Front clearance was only about six inches. This storage was movable and not permanent. How do most of you write this up? Is it a major concern? Its movable so maybe an improvement item? Curious on how other inspectors handle this on their reports.

I would write it up saying that it does not meet today’s standards for clearances,and storing combustible materials to close to the front of the panel could create a fire hazard, in the event of emergency breakers would not be easily accessible

That depends… how is it “not permanent”? What exactly is involved to move it to gain access to the breaker panel? If it is simply roll it out of the way, and it easily rolls without effort, I would mention it to the client for knowledge, but not call it out as a defect, more of an advisory to maintain it’s accessability. Be reasonable, how often does anyone have need to open the panel, let alone remove the cover for repairs? Once every two or three years… maybe?

It doesn’t matter how often someone needs to remove the cover. Article 110 has fairly clear access and workspace requirements requiring accessiblility.

Start with this from the 2008 NEC: 110.26 Spaces About Electrical Equipment. Sufficient
access and working space shall be provided and maintained
about all electrical equipment to permit ready and safe operation
and maintenance of such equipment.

Also this part of 110: (B) Clear Spaces. Working space required by this section
shall not be used for storage. When normally enclosed live
parts are exposed for inspection or servicing, the working
space, if in a passageway or general open space, shall be
suitably guarded.

Thanks, Jim. Pretty tough to access:

While still a violation technically, I would have less of an issue with a low shelf or a trashcan or appliance in that space, unless it blocked operation of the door. I remember one discussion elsewhere where the HI felt a car could not be parked in the garage if it impinged on the workspace.

When I find obstructed access. I always take a pic and call it out.

Even on moveable objects because you do not know if they are staying or not.

Blocking CBP’s is a violation of OSHA & NFPA codes.
These regulations require accessibility to the front of electrical panels to have a minimum of three feet clearance and a minimum width to be the width of the equipment or 2.5 feet, whichever is greater.
This assures in case of an electrical emergency, there is clear working space in front for quick access to the circuit breakers

From US Office of Compliance September 2009

Do you believe that the Seller, Buyer, Realtor, anybody gives a rats a-s-s about any of that? If that “storage” is easily moveable, it will NEVER be corrected. The storage space is more valuable than the “regulations”!

I really do not care what they all think.
Here’s a dumb one that’s inside a kitchen cabinet, you can only open the door about 1/3.
I’m pretty sure my client bought the place & never cared.

JJ you are under arrest!

CBP inside cabinet.JPG

How ever it is good to CYA just my opinion

And that is exactly why I would discuss the situation with my client and let them decide for themselves if they want the risk for their families. IMO, this is no different than a client moving into their new (to them) home, and stacking all their moving crap in front of the panel. Which one takes longer to move in an emergency… a roomful of boxes or a easily rolled away storage unit?

But it protects you when you document it so when a dumb *** sues you are covered . It does not matter what they do it matters what you do.

Usually only when they sell and another HI tries to get to it. We are usually the only ones that ever open those panels.

Panel should e serviced just like any other mechanical equipment , but most never do it . connections and conditions should be reviewed at least once a year , And main lugs tightness every 5 years . This how i was taught anyway . Did we find loose connections yes , Very often ? no . But often we found Mice , bees , rust and so on . How many electrical fires would be prevented if people treated their home as good as their car .

I see this all the time. I would write it up as an advisory to move the obstructions, & leave the proper clearance space, issue, but ONLY if the storage is not a permanent fixture. Otherwise, I would list it as a defect. As for emergency disconnection of power, say, if the fire department needs to shut off service, in many places they just pull the meter off. APS in Phoenix Arizona, now wants a main disconnecting means directly under every meter now, unless, it is not practical to do so. Every jurisdiction, & fire department is different, but there is most definitely a work clearance NEC code violation there. I have seen electrical closets in many commercial buildings made into storage closets and some were even made into offices.

New member here from Wisconsin. We are selling our home and had a home inspection and he was very thorough. One of the thngs he recommended to our buyer is “clearance in front of panel is inadequate. Min. 30” x 36". Correction required (Bar needs to be moved over). We have 18 " clearance between the bar and the panel. It is not an option to move the bar over because it would block other areas. We had an electrician in and he was surprised it was an issue but is willing to put in a juncture box and was surprised it was an issue. The current panel is nicely covered by a wooden box. Is this really an issue? If I want to get really picky, I could say you have 36+" of clearance over the top of the bar. And, what if the buyer decides she doesn’t like the new fuse box and backs out of the deal. It was not a problem with our inspector 24 years ago. Need advice, please.

I would forget about your inspector from 24 years ago & pictures please.

The simple fact is that your installation does not comply with the NEC and is a violation because you do not have the required clearances according to the code. Not sure why an electrician wouldn’t think that this is an issue when it’s clearly stated in Article 110. If the sale hinges on fixing the problem and you cannot move the bar or the box then you might have to move the panel. Here’s what it should look like to comply from the NECH:

Thank you for your reply. I’m not sure how to post a pic here.