Service Panel in Laundry

Yesterday afternoon I was inspecting a home from the 70’s with the electrical service panel / breaker box in a room that could be best described as a laundry closet. You could not walk into the room, but you could open two bi-fold doors to access the equipment. The panel was located in the left wall directly above the washer. I marked the panel as deficient and recommended bringing in a licensed electrician, etc and didn’t remove the front because I thought it was unsafe to lean over the washer to do it.

Was I overreacting? Is this “grandfathered” because the house was built this way? Thanks for the feedback.

This it typical in houses from the 70s where I am. I would make a note in my report saying why this is not a good idea, but nothing will be done about it.

I usually sit on the washer and remove the panel cover.


Tim, IMO, in our line of work there is no such thing as “grandfathered” because of this or that. Usually it won’t get repaired to meet today’s standard.

It is either right or wrong, safe or unsafe, etc. Codes are improved mostly for safety’s sake.

One can just make the report and let the client decide.

Best inspecting to you. :smile:


I think Mr Larry said that well. Our function is not determine “code” but to note defects and safety issues regardless of the age or era of the property.

In this case, modern standards have addressed the issue because it’s now considered a safety concern…the very reason you didnt feel comfortable removing the cover.

I think it should be noted for what it is and let the customer decide if it’s a concern they feel needs to be addressed.

If you want, you could always add something like this was a typical installation at the time but modern standards require x clearance etc. If you have “interviewed” the client, they may have said they want to remodel or something. You can provide additional value to your report by letting them know this would need to be brought up to modern standards when remodeld (ie extra costs) to help them make educated decisions

I hope this was a helpful reply and happy inspecting!


Not necessarily, if the amount of work in the area of the panel does not meet the requirement to bring things up to code

Hi Dennis,
I should have worded that “may need…”
Words DO matter!

Thank you sir :facepunch:

I inspected an older home with the panel in a bedroom closet. I mentioned in the report that this is no longer considered to be an ideal location.
When my clients added solar to the home the following year, the County wanted them to move it. When the county inspector came out, he thought that the contractor installed the panel in the closet. When it was pointed out that the panel was originally in the closet, as supported by the pictures in their home inspection report, the County allowed them to keep it in the closet.
It’s good to have documentation.

Thank you all for the insight!

I’ve opened every panel except one (located in a wet muddy crawlspace, rusty, and i was standing in water). I’ve seen many in laundry rooms, and some very difficult to access. It’s always helpful to pack some scrap cardboard and a piece of wood, a 2’ step ladder in case you need for such a thing. You never know what you can run into… expect to be surprised and try your best to prepare for it. Some inspectors won’t move objects to access what they need. In most cases I will move whatever to make it more accessible to me.

I have a pre-inspection checklist that the seller or the seller’s agent completes. One of the items on the list is to provide clear access to the panel. I wouldn’t have removed the cover.