Service panel clearance

I recently inspected a property where the basement had been remodeled. The service and sub panels created an obstacle as far as an eye sore for finishing the basement. The homeowner’s solution was to enclose the panels in a closet door and frame.

When closed, there is absolutely no clearance (OK maybe an inch or two) between the door face and the deadfront.

This remodel took place within the last few years. An electrician stated in his estimate that clearance was acceptable at time of installation.

I totally disagree.


A door is NOT a permanent barrier and does NOT impede on clearances. If, when the door is open, you retain proper clearances it is absoluetly fine.

That is exactly the way my electric closet is. With the door open I have working space with an inch or so to spare. The door swing tends to enforce the depth of the working space as long as you don’t block the door

A stack of storage containers in front of a service panel isn’t permenant either. Is this allowed?

Let me add to my first post that due to poor installation, the door required a great deal of effort and strength to open. After toying with it for a while, I discovered that by lifting up on the knob, the door would open easily. Does this change the barrier requirements?

You are a home inspector, you can write up the door that is hard to open, just like you would if the bathroom door was sticking.

William, I’m not sure what you are looking for. It seems like you simply want someone to agree with you.

No. I just want clarification or explanation of why this is an acceptable installation.

I did write up the sticking door, but I also wrote it up as a clearance issue.

How about explaining why it is not acceptable.

Unless the door is 24" wide you made a mistake in writing it up.

I can see this emphasizing working space with the door open. I guess I was looking at a safety standpoint when closed as innaccessible and a potential fire hazard.

Why are you sorry?

I just want further explanation and I think I have it. Interpreting yours and Greg’s explanation… as long as the door fully opens, required working space will be adequate.

I suppose I should have commented on ease of access rather than clearance.

Now I know. Thanks.:wink:

A hinged door does not inhibit the requirements for panels to be “readily accessible.” A locked door, or a pile of items that would need to be moved, does inhibit the required access.

Understood, but in this instance of the door being very difficult to open, would you not indicate an accessibility problem, until corrected?

This was part of my thoughts, except that I erroneously flagged it under the “working clearance” side of things.

Yes, I would.

Ditto what Jeff Pope said in his two posts. :shock: