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  1. #1

    Default New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Ran into this one last week.

    They had built a closet on the wall by the Panel, and rather than put a door in to provide access all they provided was a hole in the new closet front wall.

    P5010029 (600x800).jpg

    The Panel was 24-30" BACK, against the back wall, and all I had was the Panel sized hole in the wall.

    Luckily there was enough wrong in my initial walk around the house (standing water in the basement among them) that they aborted the inspection before I had to deal with the panel.

    P5010033 (600x800).jpg

    This was a new one for me....

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    I had a new one last week as well. It was mounted sideways, high in a built-in cabinet, over a toilet, with the vent stack in front of it. I had to stand on the toilet to even get to the cover. And yes, I did take the cover off, and check the insides. It was a fuse panel with multiple issues. The photo shows it with the cover open.

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  3. #3
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Chambers View Post
    I had a new one last week as well. It was mounted sideways, high in a built-in cabinet, over a toilet, with the vent stack in front of it. I had to stand on the toilet to even get to the cover. And yes, I did take the cover off, and check the insides. It was a fuse panel with multiple issues. The photo shows it with the cover open.
    Michael,

    I would never try to take that panel cover off or recommend that others take this chance. We face many hazards during our day-to-day job activities and safety should be the #1 issue.

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Chambers View Post
    I had a new one last week as well. It was mounted sideways, high in a built-in cabinet, over a toilet, with the vent stack in front of it. I had to stand on the toilet to even get to the cover. And yes, I did take the cover off, and check the insides. It was a fuse panel with multiple issues. The photo shows it with the cover open.
    Why would you put yourself in harm's way to open a panel that will have to be replaced anyway. It is a fused panel........ It has to go. Don't know of any insurance companies that will write a homeowner's policy for a home with fuses anywhere (main panel, sub-panels, etc.).


  5. #5
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Low View Post
    Why would you put yourself in harm's way to open a panel that will have to be replaced anyway. It is a fused panel........ It has to go. Don't know of any insurance companies that will write a homeowner's policy for a home with fuses anywhere (main panel, sub-panels, etc.).
    Bruce, I agree with not taking the cover off for safety, but I found your comment about insurance companies interesting.

    Insurance is not a code requirement or a safety requirement. They may not want to take the risk but it has nothing to do with the building codes. So.... does that mean our practice is governed by building codes or insurance companies or financing requirements??? Hmmm! very interesting topic. Do you think we could get sued (found guilty) because we didn't recommend changing from fuses to breakers??

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  6. #6

    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Ugly panels that are old, wet, stuffed, fused, painted, aluminum filled, dangerous, etc was not the topic....

    I couldn't physically GET TO the panel.

    Just to open the Door was interesting as I had to stretch.

    Someone else can start a thread about "Panels you might not want to open"


  7. #7
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Chambers View Post
    I had a new one last week as well. It was mounted sideways, high in a built-in cabinet, over a toilet, with the vent stack in front of it. I had to stand on the toilet to even get to the cover. And yes, I did take the cover off, and check the insides. It was a fuse panel with multiple issues. The photo shows it with the cover open.

    This would be a real treasure hunt, for someone not familiar with the house, like a fire fighter. Even worse, for someone in an emergency hurry.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy Roberts View Post
    This would be a real treasure hunt, for someone not familiar with the house, like a fire fighter. Even worse, for someone in an emergency hurry.
    Jim, the fire fighter would find it fast! Remember---they just LOVE to use their axes!!!

    I know there are requirements for side access to a panel (sliding box) but I always thought there was one for height requirements for a panel too. I would not stand on something to look or work on a panel----it's just not safe for me.

    Reminds me of a story years back when I was placing a meter pan. The local power company said up to 6'. The female, said it was 6' because she worked for the power company and it was 6'. I said to her it was usually the eyeball height of whoever was putting up the panel---(showing her while I held the pan), a short guy would put it here (stooping down), a tall guy would put it here (standing up). She went inside----couldn't figure out why!!!


  9. #9
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Seeing that I would be calling up the AHJ for sure. Then a Certified Master Electrician would come in and rip the sucker out of the wall ASAP.
    Why would you call the inspection agency? I would only change out the panel if it was exhibiting issues.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    That completely ignores the fact that the panel was probably installed in a compliant manner and the issue is the carpentry work that created the violation.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  11. #11
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    That completely ignores the fact that the panel was probably installed in a compliant manner and the issue is the carpentry work that created the violation.
    I agree, Jim. There is no problem with the panel installation in Bob's pic.
    Call for the 'carpenter' to repair his mess.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  12. #12

    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    I don't know if there was a problem with the panel,

    I couldn't get to it to inspect it !


    I could see it, almost touch it....but inspect it...not a chance....

    Now if I was allowed to use an Axe......


  13. #13
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    That completely ignores the fact that the panel was probably installed in a compliant manner and the issue is the carpentry work that created the violation.
    " ... that created the violation. "

    It is not a violation of the 'carpentry' code - it is a violation of the electrical code - thus the call should be for the electrical contractor.

    The end result may be that the best solution is to address the electrical installation (relocation of the panel), or, the end result may be that the best solution is to address the framing issues which created the electrical violation.

    Jumping to conclusions is what we, as inspectors, do on a regular basis, but ... that does not mean that our conclusions are correct - sometimes we just end up getting exercise from all the jumping ...

    It's no different than I used to find all over South Florida - clothes washers directly below electrical panels. The code inspectors would respond with "Well, the clothes washer was not there when I did the inspection." Huh? You mean you couldn't tell that a clothes washer wasn't going to be installed there? The approved plans show the washer there, the washer supplies and drain are there ...

    Always started with the electrical contractor, panel was always what was relocated.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    " ... that created the violation. "

    It is not a violation of the 'carpentry' code - it is a violation of the electrical code - thus the call should be for the electrical contractor.
    Always started with the electrical contractor, panel was always what was relocated.
    That may be, but the usual situation for me when I see crap like that is a renovation took place where the panel has been there for years.
    For a Home inspector of an older home to say "move the panel" would be irresponsible, IMO. Move the closet.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    That may be, but the usual situation for me when I see crap like that is a renovation took place where the panel has been there for years.
    I'm not saying or implying that the panel was not there first, only that the violation is electrical - not framing ... even though the framing caused the electrical violation.

    I'm saying that it is highly unlikely - VERY highly unlikely ... that there are "no" conditions or issues in the panel which are in need of correction (i.e., most likely SOMETHING in the panel is in need of correction).

    At that time the electrical contractor can assess how easy/difficult it will be to address the location/access/working space at the panel.

    For a Home inspector of an older home to say "move the panel" would be irresponsible, IMO. Move the closet.
    For a Home Inspector of an older home to say "move the closet" would be irresponsible too.

    Sometimes, "move the closet" would completely disrupt what the buyer wanted in that room.

    Start with the panel - how often do you find panels which do not require anything? Never? Seldom? 50-50?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    I see it differently Jerry, especially since I would find it had to believe the panel was installed after that recess was built. The closet etc created the violation so it is the thing that needs to be addressed. I don't care if there might be other things that might need to be addressed in the panel. Even if the panel, were to be moved access would still be needed to access any junction box in that recess. I could care less about upsetting someone's plan for the area if their plans create a code violation.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Ormond Beach Counseling Center
    200 E Granada Blvd
    Suite 206
    Ormond Beach, Florida32176
    (386) 530-6338
    Is there a purpose or benefit to anyone for your post?
    Lets stay on topic. OK

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Abram View Post
    Ormond Beach Counseling Center
    200 E Granada Blvd
    Suite 206
    Ormond Beach, Florida32176
    (386) 530-6338
    This from the person who's Home Inspector license is STILL ON SUSPENSION ... ???

    It is likely no wonder his license was suspended. As Scott asked, just what did the man do to get his Home Inspector license SUSPENDED?



    (My apologies, Rick.)

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  19. #19
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    This from the person who's Home Inspector license is STILL ON SUSPENSION ... ???

    It is likely no wonder his license was suspended. As Scott asked, just what did the man do to get his Home Inspector license SUSPENDED?



    (My apologies, Rick.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Is there a purpose or benefit to anyone for your post?
    Lets stay on topic. OK
    Ahhhhhhhhh (is that how you spell a scream?)

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Ahhhhhhhhh (is that how you spell a scream?)
    I heard his scream from down here too - that's why I offered to help him when he is down here for his counseling (although I was not aware that there was a counseling center here which was so widely known and respected that Jim would be recommended to seek it out).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    I'm not saying or implying that the panel was not there first, only that the violation is electrical - not framing ... even though the framing caused the electrical violation.

    I'm saying that it is highly unlikely - VERY highly unlikely ... that there are "no" conditions or issues in the panel which are in need of correction (i.e., most likely SOMETHING in the panel is in need of correction).

    At that time the electrical contractor can assess how easy/difficult it will be to address the location/access/working space at the panel.



    For a Home Inspector of an older home to say "move the closet" would be irresponsible too.

    Sometimes, "move the closet" would completely disrupt what the buyer wanted in that room.

    Start with the panel - how often do you find panels which do not require anything? Never? Seldom? 50-50?
    One hour labour with a Sawzall will remedy the access. Then the repairs can be made as needed in the panel, cost maybe $200 and a couple of wire nuts.

    Versus 4-8 hours to 2 days by an electrical professional, maybe installing a new service to extend the service conductors?? Which plan is most likely to seem unreasonable?

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  22. #22
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Ahhhhhhhhh (is that how you spell a scream?)
    I think it is more like "arrrrgggghhhh" ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Jim I now refer all electrical to a Master Electrician and would report that crap to ESA. Let them find out who installed it.
    If it could be done by me it would be a violation of a InterNachi Inspector.

    - - - Updated - - -
    It seems like a lot of inspectors look for excuses why not to inspect things.

    You refer all electrical to a Master Electrician. What does that mean?

    You later post, "report and move on" suggests that you are more interested in CYA and getting done than serving your client. Even if you think all fuse panels have to be replaced, that is not necessarily the case. Also, yes that panel is in an awkward location, but I would not consider it unsafe to access the panel.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    One hour labour with a Sawzall will remedy the access. Then the repairs can be made as needed in the panel, cost maybe $200 and a couple of wire nuts.

    Versus 4-8 hours to 2 days by an electrical professional, maybe installing a new service to extend the service conductors?? Which plan is most likely to seem unreasonable?
    30 seconds with a backhoe would remedy the issue too, somehow, though, I suspect you missed the part about what the buyer may have wanted.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  25. #25

    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    There are certain things that say "Call Sparky" as they -will- need lots of attention.

    -Federal Pacific panels
    -Zinsco Panels
    -Bulldog pushmatic panels
    -Any Panel that is dripping water
    -Any Panel that is painted shut so badly I can't even FIND the screws.
    -Any Panel that has been spray painted on the inside so I can't read the labels
    -Any Panel with Burn marks on wires
    -Panels with 60A feeders and round fuses for everything...
    -Aluminum branch wires
    -Active knob & tube spliced to Romex and back....

    and the list goes on.....

    All of these things are WAY beyond me to APPROVE and say they are safe. Some are no longer insurable (depending on your carrier and location)

    Note: I don't say they are bad, but that you need an expert to judge if they are still safe, or to tell you what they need...

    probably about 5% of what I call out comes back as "OK, just a paranoid inspector...its OK" and that only comes back VERBALLY. When I tell my client to ask for that in writing (my report after all is written, with my license on it) more than half change their mind "he is technically right, I should fix that after all...."

    We look out for our CLIENTS, as we may be the last person to look at something for YEARS. We are TRIAGE ONLY....we have 3 hours to do the whole house...the electrician wants 3 hours just for his portion... so, if we see something that isn't what we expect or as we are trained it should be... we pass it on to the experts, be it electrician, plumber, foundation, HVAC, Roof, appliances, etc....

    Yes, we call for experts, but rarely is it all of them.... Electricians get lots of calls, so does the plumber for Gas leaks. Simple, but there is no such thing as a "small" gas leak. Small leaks blow up houses to, they just take longer. How about small leaks, or only one termite, or....


  26. #26
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    30 seconds with a backhoe would remedy the issue too, somehow, though, I suspect you missed the part about what the buyer may have wanted.
    They want to buy the house, so they hired Bob. That i did not miss.
    If these clients were well-oiled, they would not be buying the house with the 1974 Sq D panel in the renovated basement.
    Throwing a $1500-$2000 obstacle in their way is not going to make you a hero.
    Sorry, I jumped to a different conclusion than you.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  27. #27
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    Default Re: New Depth in inaccessible panels

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    They want to buy the house, so they hired Bob. That i did not miss.
    If these clients were well-oiled, they would not be buying the house with the 1974 Sq D panel in the renovated basement.
    Throwing a $1500-$2000 obstacle in their way is not going to make you a hero.
    Sorry, I jumped to a different conclusion than you.
    The difference in the conclusions that we jumped too are this:

    To you, you threw a $1500-$2000 obstacle in their way.

    To me, that is not an obstacle, it is something which needs to be considered in their purchase, just like an old roof needing to be replaced but which has been hanging on by its fingernails 'til death do it part ...

    The home inspector does not, cannot, "require" something to be replaced, all they can do it bring it to their clients attention - it is their clients who look at it and decide if they can still afford the house, are taking on more than they can chew, or would be better off to keep looking.

    *I* was never "protective of the deal" and thus the cost of repairs was never a consideration of mine as to what went into my report and what did not ... if one considers something to be an "obstacle" then one may well consider it in a different light ... such as 'Well, it is a 40 year old house with a converted basement, what else do they expect?

    Definitely not the conclusion I jumped to.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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