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ELECTRICAL INSPECTION, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
ACCURACY vs PRECISION of MEASUREMENTS
AFCIs ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
ALUMINUM SECs & WIRING
ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS & REPAIRS
AMPS & VOLTS DETERMINATION
AMPACITY - the LIMITING FACTOR
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
BACKUP ELECTRICAL GENERATORS
BACK-WIRED ELECTRICAL DEVICES
BOOKSTORE - ELECTRICAL
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
Cadet & Encore Heater Recall
CIRCUIT BREAKER FAILURE
CIRCUIT BREAKER SIZE for A/C or HEAT PUMP
Classified CIRCUIT BREAKER WARNING
CORROSION in ELECTRICAL PANELS
CORROSION & MOISTURE SOURCES in PANELS
CUTLER HAMMER PANEL FIRE
DEFINITIONS of ELECTRICAL TERMS
DIRECTORY OF ELECTRICIANS
DMM Digital Multimeter HOW TO USE
ELECTRIC METERS & METER BASES
ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
ELECTRIC PANEL AMPACITY
ELECTRIC PANEL INSPECTION
ELECTRIC PANEL MOISTURE
Electric Power Frequency Table
EMF RF FIELD & FREQUENCY DEFINITIONS
ELECTRICAL GROUND SYSTEM INSPECTION
ELECTRICAL GROUND SYSTEM INSPECTION
ENERGY SAVINGS in buildings
FEDERAL PACIFIC FPE HAZARDS
FIRE SAFETY Checklist, CPSC
GFCI PROTECTION,Testing GFCIs AFCIs
HEATING COST FUEL & BTU COST TABLES
HEAT TAPE USAGE GUIDE
Hertz - Definitions of KHz MHz GHz THz
KNOB & TUBE WIRING
LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEMS
LOW VOLTAGE BUILDING WIRING
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
MAIN ELECTRICAL DISCONNECT
MAIN DISCONNECT AMPACITY
MOISTURE SOURCES in PANELS
MURRAY SIEMENS Recall
PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEMS
PUSHMATIC - BULLDOG PANELS
RUST in ELECTRICAL PANELS
SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS
Shock Risk Statistics
OUTDOOR ELECTRICAL INSPECTION SAFETY
Electric Meter & Service Entry
Local Electrical Grounding
ELECTRICAL PANEL INSPECTION SAFETY
REMOVE ELECTRICAL PANEL COVERS
ELECTRICAL PANEL COVER SCREWS
ELECTRICAL PANEL INTERIOR HAZARDS
TEST MAIN BREAKERS & FUSES
Inspect Breakers, Fuses, Circuits
Testing Receptacles GFCIs AFCIs
When to Shut Down Equipment
Touching Electrical Equipment
Guide to Electrical Test Equipment
DMMs VOMs SAFE USE OF
VOLTS / AMPS MEASUREMENT EQUIP
ELECTRICAL INSPECTOR SAFETY PROCEDURES
ELECTRICAL INSPECTION CLIENT SAFETY
SE CABLE SIZES vs AMPS
UNDERGROUND SERVICE LATERALS
VOLTS / AMPS MEASUREMENT EQUIP
VOLTAGE MEASUREMENT METHODS
WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS
WIND TURBINES & LIGHTNING
ZINSCO SYLVANIA ELECTRICAL PANELS
How to inspect circuit brearkers & fuses: this article discusses suggests safety procedures for the electrical inspector, home inspector, or other professionals during inspection of individual circuit breakers, fuses, or branch circuit conductors - home electrical wiring safety inspection details.
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Fatal Shock Hazard Warning: Inspecting electrical components and systems risks death by electrocution as well as serious burns or other injuries to the inspector or to others. Do not attempt these tasks unless you are properly trained and equipped.
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These electrical inspection suggestions are not a complete inventory of all electrical safety procedures nor of all electrical components that should be inspected; these notes focus on identification of conditions that may present special electrical hazards for the electrical inspector. Contact Us by email to suggest changes, corrections, and additions to this material.
In addition to examining the electrical panel before touching it, looking for dangerous conditions like water, rust, sheet metal screws, rats, and blocking client access, the inspector should also recognize that certain brands or models of electrical equipment are known to be unsafe and may be dangerous to inspect or operate.
The simple neon-tester shown at above left is a quick easy way to check for the presence of electrical power at an electrical receptacle, lighting fixture, or switch. The receptacle tester shown at above right includes a test button and circuit for testing GFCI devices; however it works equally well testing an ordinary electrical receptacle such as the one shown here.
But beware: notice that theelectrical receptacle in our photo at above right was damaged - the plastic face of the lower connectors has been lost.
Examples of unreliable electrical panels include Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok equipment - this product uses breakers which remain internally "on" when switched "off", as well as too often failing to trip off in response to an overcurrent, and which have been reported to result in electrical arc explosions when manually or otherwise exercised.
A careless inspector who touches this device or inserts a metal tool into it while showing it to a client is at risk of getting burned or shocked.
Proper use of test tools during an electrical inspection is critical for safety and is discussed beginning at Guide to Electrical Test Equipment.
Opening the electrical panel to examine overcurrent devices - fuses or circuit breakers, is discussed at ELEC PANEL & GROUND
Inspecting overcurrent devices - visual: see ELECTRIC PANEL AMPACITY and ELECTRIC PANEL INSPECTION for detailed procedures. There is a huge amount of information about the electrical system inside of the electrical panels.
As we mentioned at TEST MAIN BREAKERS & FUSES, we advise against testing FPE Stab-Lok or Zinsco equipment by switching it on or off.
The inspector is not required to insert anything, finger, screwdriver, probe, into the electrical panel. The required inspection is visual. Observe. However an inspector is of course permitted to perform other tests or services which s/he chooses to provide (presuming s/he is qualified, trained, and that three are no conflicts of interest).
Inspecting wiring - visual: gain, a visual inspection of the wire size compared with breaker ratings is what is meant by this section. If you need them, plastic, non-conductive wire gauges are available.
Do not use metal wire gauges in or around electrical equipment.
Do not let your client touch wiring such as the knob and tube connections shown in the photograph at left.
Reporting aluminum wire: see ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS & REPAIRS
Reporting knob and tube wiring: see KNOB & TUBE WIRING
8.1.E. [The inspector shall observe] the operation of a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, switches, and receptacles located inside the house, garage, and on its exterior wallsBefore operating a switch or device perform a visual inspection for damage, looseness, burning or arcing, or heat.
Devices missing cover plates are unsafe and risk both shock and fire.
Metal cover plates also add shock risks.
Watch out about turning on switches found off in the service panel.
A circuit found in the off position may be that way due to an unsafe condition or a repair in progress. Leave it off and document the finding. The property owner should be consulted for permission before turning on any electrical device which has been found shut down.
The light shown in our photo is a fire hazard and needs to be moved or replaced with an enclosed florescent fixture.
Also be careful about turning off switches found on. You may damage a computer data base, turn off a heart-lung machine, reset an alarm system, or turn off a marginal switch for the heat that leaves the property with no heat in freezing weather. Be safe and avoid disputes.
An example of accidentally switching off circuits in a building occurs often during removal of an awkward electrical panel cover - it's easy to accidentally push one or more circuit breakers into their off position during cover removal or replacement.
ELECTRICAL INSPECTOR SAFETY PROCEDURES describes important basic safety procedures, clothing, and equipment for home inspectors and electrical inspectors.
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