Panel Inspection Safety

Since there were a number of topics on safety lately, I thought I would repeat one of my posts from the old board:

I occasionally hear or run across some disturbing comments concerning inspecting an electrical service panel, and that is one of the most dangerous things an HI does, so I thought a topic about panel inspection safety would be useful.

I don’t think this is the place to receive instruction on inspecting a service panel and appropriate procedures, and I would highly recommend at least a short class or help from an electrician … even if you have some basic knowledge and think you can handle things (knowledge can be dangerous … lol). There are also more comprehensive safety standards/documents that have been referenced. But I am a big fan of staying safe, so I will say this as a minimum:

If at all possible, have an electrician or qualified instructor walk you through a panel inspection and safety procedures. And I know others have said this, but let me repeat the mantra here … YOU ARE ONLY PERFORMING A VISUAL INSPECTION … SO DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING INSIDE A PANEL OR STICK ANYTHING INSIDE A PANEL!!! …

Use common sense, and look for things that don’t look right. If you are not sure what you are doing or something doesn’t look right, bail to an electrician. It is okay to note in you report … “full electrical panel inspection appeared unsafe … it is recommend that a licensed electrician inspect the panel”.

Stay safe out there boys, and if anyone has suggestions on improving the list fire away … :wink:

Very Good!

Follow to the letter!!!

Always keep one hand in your pocket.

Vibrating beepers and phones feel like electrical impedance leaving your body. I threw a brand new beeper that vibrated 7 stories off a building when I was in a 460 VAC panel. “You didn’t answer your beeper.” If you would like I’ll kick your a$$ right now as an answer to that page! We had other communication problems within the company as well…

I quit wearing a wedding ring until I got out of the HVAC business. Good point though!

There is a NACHI test question about wearing protective wear that I got wrong because I answered that you should wear protective gear… ???

I found a new “no contact tester” while hanging out at a Radio Shack between classes at collage. It saved three lives in the first week of ownership. I have given them a gifts to many, and will not do an inspection without one. I have three in my vest al all times!!

If you don’t have one, get off $9 and get one. It is the cheapest insurance you can buy!

I’m not sure which question that was, or how it is worded, but an HI is generally not REQUIRED by law to wear/use much of the protective gear/tools … but they really SHOULD use them if they value their life … :wink:

Texas colloquialism:

Once bitten twice shy

Reference to Sidewinder Rattlesnakes but works well for electricity also

Cotton Clothes perferably.
Nylon based clothing is not recommended although I don’t think many inspectors are using exercise suits for inspections…:wink:
Nylon based clothes in an arch flash will burn very very well on your skin and I think will bond to your skin… . Not a good thing.

Some guys recommend a full face shield when working with a dead front / panel cover.

Safety glasses protect your eyes but not the rest of that “pretty mug”…:wink:

Keep that client / shadow person/ group away from all panels and YOU during the electrical inspection. Your in control of inspection process and who sticks their fingers / faces in areas you don’t want them to be…

Rubber soled “gym shoes” are not insulated as many people think.

I guess you could take a better safe than sorry approach and wear a full face shield with protective clothing for the panel inspection. But my understanding is that the real danger for an HI is shocks and damage to the eyes, and that arc flash burns are really more of an issue with voltages higher than the usual 120V/240V on residential systems. But if anyone has more info on arc flash burns being on issue for 120V/240V systems I am all ears … :wink:

Refuse if the 1st screw you take out has a pointed tip.

New to home inspections, I am a Nachi member.

Should we use a volt meter to test the voltage in
the main panel, or do we strictly do a visual inspection.


NO sir… Better to keep fingers OUT of main service panel and other equipment. Visual inspection.

Some inspectors will check at receptacles with 3 light tester as a basic test, some will use a device like a SureTest with display to find voltage drops.

Safety is number one. See a questionable configuration or downright dangerous installation… Call it out… :smiley:

Never test for voltage in a panel! If you need to know if there’s current in the breakers, use a non-contact voltage sensor. The same is true for abandoned wiring. Costs about $10-$20 at any decent hardware store.

This issue came up again, so I thought I would refresh the listing

And 9 years after this was first discussed, the training course entitled “*How to Perform Residential Electrical Inspections” *still indicate that inspectors should use the back of their hand to test for “Stray Voltage” on the Dead Front.

Nick and Ben should take a look at this particular course and re-write it.


**The only way I remove a dead front is with my gloves on. ** :slight_smile:

Sounds like a good idea. When using rubber gloves of that type they should be protected by a leather outer glove to prevent damaging the rubber.

Having worked with linesman style gloves many times it should be noted that there is a learning curve getting used to the feel. Can’t tell you how many times I dropped the tool or the hardware when I first started with those gloves. :slight_smile:

What feel? ha ha
I still have problems manipulating the screws.
Replaced annually but no outer gloves.

I had a client or relative of a client quietly come up behind me while I was inspecting a panel and they took a flash picture. I am smart enough to not be to close to the panel to have made a jerking motion that would have made me come in contact with anything live. It did scare the crap out me and I now always look over my shoulder.

And remeber: Safety is no accident :wink:

Incorrect…absolutely nothing wrong with that advice. The same people who would say not to test the panel cover with the back of their hand are the same folks who would say you probe into the panel itself. The use of the back of the hand is an accepted and common practice on the surface of a panel cover…and nothing more.

Out dated …last I checked electricity has not changed in over 100 years…just sayin.