Using Correct Electrical Terms in Reports



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A cabinet may be flush mounted or surface mounted. These boxes are intended for installation in accordance with Article 312 of ANSI/NFPA 70, ‘‘National Electrical Code.’’

So a panel cover is not correct and although Deadfront is used the term here is the correct term, I must say.

PS: Anyone who wants me to review their electrical narratives can send them to me and let me BOLD the suggestions I have, so that when talking to a electrician the same language will be spoken.


It is important that inspectors know both the correct terms, and that they use terms the clients are familiar with. Clients know what a panel cover is, most would not know a deadfront if you slapped them with it.

Our job is not just knowledge, it is the effective communication of that knowledge.

I can’t tell you how many of my clients rever to the service panel as “the fuse box”…

That is correct Blaine, and that is how I describe things Electrically because I don’t know the proper term myself. ha. ha.

I think that today’s common knowledge, we can also start using the breaker box and they would understand. ha. ha.

Marcel :slight_smile: :wink:

I may get some reddies for saying it. But I use terms that my clients understand. With all respect to the electricians, if the terminology that I use in my reports seems amature to them, I couldn’t care less. If I call something out, I want my “lay person” client to understand it as best they can. I just want the electrician to fix it.

PS. Please don’t get me wrong. Joe I sincerely appreciate the lessons you are giving us here, as well as the proper terminology. But please don’t get too upset if you don’t see me using the proper terms all the time.

Worth repeating. . .


The ability to EFFECTIVELY communicate what we observe is KEY. The exactly correct terminology is secondary to the conveyance of the INFORMATION.

I am sure that a technocrat could correct me all day long with some of the technically “incorrect” electrical terminology I use. Dont get me wrong, it aint WAY out there. I’d rather use descriptive language, and common terms, that my clients can understand. The NEC terminology can be quite confusing. Since I am not writing the report for an electrical engineer, who really cares anyway.

But, ask one of my clients if they understand the condition I am reporting on. They will say “yes”. TO that end, the electrician who uses the report to Confirm and repair the condition also understands what was written.

Report writing is an art, and not a science. We must never forget this.

We’ve had this discussion many times (message board, telephone and classroom).

Suffice it to say, if I were a vendor wanting to sell a class on electrical terminology, I would first have to create a market for it by convincing people it were necessary.

I think I can recall one particular vendor who taught an electrical course at one of our St. Louis chapter meetings make a point of what a master electrician “might think” if he read a report lacking in “electro-ese”, if you will.

In my opinion, the ideal report will address the problem in language that a Soccer Mom can understand.

We don’t write to impress…but to inform.

Using street logo is OK, I only wanted to remind the industry that the people who think you are jokes are sometimes electricians, and inspectors who should be aware of your knowledge.

As many of you may remember, everyone thought that I said that a few years ago and was banned, but I didn’t write that about the HI, his name is Ryan Jackson UT and he said that in his message on the other board now deleted.

If he says otherwise I will personally call him a Liar, I am really serious and will defend my position here.

I have stated in the past, and will again now that I believe the HI is a much better overall inspector than many I see today during my field trips, and at seminars. Its OK to say fuse or breaker, but I will include “overcurrent device”, or its OK to say Panel Box but I will say “Panelboard in a cabinet.”

My reason for this post, as were for others, was to set the stage for what you will see sometime soon on InterNACHI TV.

I was chained for over 7 hours, and could not get lunch or move away from the chair next to Nick while we discussed “Defect Recognition” and while we made electrical inspections through my eyes on the property and at a home.

I don’t expect to make some of you “Old Dogs” learn any new tricks, but for those who who will come after us, we need to begin to elevate the image of the HI, I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon, and since we are involved in the same areas, I will say that you will be better off knowing what the terms are so you can talk to a professional electrical person some of which are realy JOKES themselves! :roll:

I remember when you were making us the butt of your jokes, Joe, on other professional message boards.

Your ideas of what home inspectors should be are very well documented.

I don’t think you want to go there.

Well said Joe. Thank you and worth repeating.

Marcel :smiley: :smiley:


Stop and think about what I have contributed here and bury the hatchet!.


Perhaps you don’t understand that many of US in the home inspection industry are the ones who think many of the tradesmen are “jokes”. Not all of them, perhaps not many of them, but we’ve certainly come across them.

I have written up FPE panels for a thorough exam by a qualified electrician and been rebuked because there is no issue with FPE panels. I have written up neutral/ground terminations under the same terminal and been rebuked. I have written up many, many other incorrect items installed by electricians, plumbers, roofers, framers, HVAC contractors, etc., that I know were incorrect, and my clients or the sellers have been told “he don’t know what he’s talking about”. So, many HI’s are of the opinion that the tradesmen are all too often too lazy to do it correctly.

The standard line from the lazy tradesmen who follow us to do the repairs comes in one of two fashions. A; That inspector doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or B; your inspector should have caught this.

So pardon me if many of us bristle when told some in the industry will think we’re jokes if we don’t use the proper terminology, or don’t call out certain things, or beg to differ with someone who is not a home inspector, but this tenured inspector doesn’t buy it.

I do appreciate the knowledge of the electric industry you possess, and also appreciate your willingness to share it with home inspectors. I for one though wish you would keep your posts relevant to what a competent home inspector will deal with during a standard visual home inspection.

This is good advice, Joe.

I’m keeping my hatchet handy, for I am not convinced that you are “wired” any differently than you were three years ago.

This thread sends up a red flag, for sure.

Wait for the TV show and watch Nick and I discussing the defects and there may be about 6 if they are prepared.

You’re right Joe, a while back I did post a comment at another forum stating that home inspectors were a joke. This is/was based on many experiences with them. At the time that I had written that, I had not met a single HI that wasn’t a joke. The one that worked for the buyer of my old home that I was selling wrote “violations” that even my wife knew were inaccurate. She called me at work, I went home and met him with several code books, and showed the guy how wrong he was.

I have also had several home owners call me at my office (I work as a municipal inspector) after an HI had visited their homes, and they told me how terrible my cities inspectors are. I visit their house, see their “violations” and give the owner and HI code references showing that they are not violations.

Now, having said all of that, I have since met some HIs that do very good work, and are well versed in not only quality/workmanship issues, but code issues as well.

…so…I did say that HIs are jokes. If I could recant that, I would say that many HIs are jokes…but many municipal inspectors are jokes as well. Search the internet for degenerate inspectors that are taking bribes, or doing hundreds of inspections a day. Those people give me a bad name just like many HIs give you guys a bad name.

Joe called me today, and we had a nice talk. He asked me if I would visit the site and emphasise the fact that it indeed was me that stated that HIs are jokes. Indeed, those were my words.

Edited for spelling. :slight_smile:


Far too many inspectors flag “code” issues. HI’s are not code enforcers and are not the AHJ. We have no business citing “code”. Even where we are code “certified” we have no business, as we are not the decision makers; the AHJ is.

That notwithstanding, many code inspectors have their heads up their collective butts. Some of them make things up as they go. I’ve seen it. They bust balls because they CAN, not because they HAVE to. MAny times they arfent even correct in their interpretation. Many allow the sloppiest of work, look the other way, get paid off, or just do not care.

Many HIs fall into the same scum-bucket. As do many “qualified” contractors.

There is good and bad in any industry. So, many in your own profession qualify as a-holes. YZou acknowledge this, and that’s okay.

Time to move on.

For all, remember that life is a lesson; you learn it when you’re through.:cool:

Or similar is definition of Experience= A whole bunch of mistakes.

Marcel :slight_smile:

Joe, I think you hit the ball out of the park. I couldn’t agree more.

Ryan You are not the only one Write about home Inspectors .
("jtedesco1 ") had a lot of fun posting about a Retired Electrician who is now a home Inspector
For Joe to Bring up your name when He has done the same thing
posting on another BB ,He also stated HIs where a joke .
Things some times come Back to haunt us .
I remember as I was the Home Inspector .
Roy Cooke retired 50 years a member of IBEW .

I also do not use Code!


Time may be a great healer ,but it’s a lousy beautician


I have been** vindicated **by Ryan’s comments above where he said he called the HI jokes, read the post, and as far as the other comments I posted the list of what you said you do during an inspection and that it was a bit less than what I thought it should be. We are talking about 3-4 years ago!

Follow the SOP and that will be enough, but for those who want to learn we will carry on and share our experiences.

Can we see a sample of a report where the electrical systems are identified and show defects?