Panel Question

First, let me introduce myself a bit. I am new to NACHI and new to the industry. I am currently “in training.” My background is in a wide range of technical analysis (observation and reporting), but not specific to the construction industry. Mechanical systems (structural, plumbing, roofing, etc.) are my strong suit, but electrical is by far my weakest, so you may see me on this board quite frequently.

Now for the question: I recently saw this panel in an attic I was looking at for training purposes (not for a client or anything). It is a sub-panel that services the upstairs area of a two-story home. The panel looks good on the inside (except that none of the breakers are labeled) and is appropriately sized, but the outside doesn’t look right to me. The insulation you see is walled-in cellulose. I don’t know enough yet to really accurately describe what’s wrong. Any suggestions or comments?



Just off the top of pointy head, electrical panels are suppose to be readily accessible to the homeowner. If it’s in the attic, that’s not readily accessible. Is there a floor to stand on? Adequete lighting in the area?

How about the proper cable clamps for the wiring? Etc.

If you lack experience in other areas (and we all have that problem), buy yourself a set of CheckBoooks. Great investment for the new home inspector.

Thanks for the tip on the CheckBooks. I was actually looking into that.

As for the placement, there is a floor - the roof is a steep pitch and the attic is accessed by a series of standard interior doors off the second floor hallway. I personally thight it was a bit “out of the way,” but not necessarily “inaccessible.”

Should there be some sort of separation from the insulation, or conduit for the out-going wires? Having the insulation packed around the loose wires seems “wrong” but I’m not sure about it…

(the clamps and connections looked good and there was no bare wiring in or around the insulation.)

If the breakers are properly sized for the wires and wiri8ng is regular NMD type, should be no problem with wires running through insulation…it’s done all the time in insulated walls and attics.

Brian you often have great ideas and I am sure you to do learn much from the many discusions.
Unfortunately you are not a member and do not get to see much of the great information that is traded and discussed on the members only section of this BB.
With a little luck you might some day consider joining NACHI .
We do not discriminate against a person belonging to more then one association.
We at NACHI do appreciate all the Non NACHI members who come to learn and help many are not home inspectors .
They come just to help and learn what goes on in our industry.
NACHI where we can disagree and have a hot discusion and never stay mad!
No other BB like it in the Home inspection industry.

… Cookie

I would have to ask 3 questions about a panel in an attic.
Do you have 6’6" of head room and 30x36 clearance in front of the panel?
Do you need to use a portable ladder to get up there?
Do you have proper illumination?

Thanks everyone. I guess I am just used to seeing drywall surrounding the panel and that’s why it looked so strange to me… It looks like the only “real” issue is side clearance. Thanks again.


How would side clearence be an issue? The 30" width does not need to be centered on the panel. It can be 0" left and the balance to the right or vice versa. Since a typical panel is 14 1/2" wide you could have 15 1/2" only on the one side.

Remember the door need to be able to fully open, or at least 90 degrees.

As long as there is a floor and good lighting, It doesn’t look like clearance is an issue. There is nothing wrong with panels in unfinished areas. The cables should be stapled within 12" of the panel.

BTW…Welcome to the board. This is a fantastic resourse for home inspectors, expecially for new one’s. When I first discovered this BB 6 months after I started, I read every post, and I learned more about the job than I did at the 120 hour class I took. There are some seriously sharp people that hang out here!