When inspecting a residential property, we are often expected to report on items that are outside of the scope of the Standard of Practice, or that are just impossible to opine on. One of these areas is in the area of the Electrical System.
While the standards of practice currently do not require an inspector to open the electrical panel, in order to provide the best possible service to the consumer, with respect to their protection, the inspector we feel should, if they have been properly trained and feel it is safe to do so, be able to open the electrical panel to visually inspect the interior.
After many months of negotiations the Electrical Safety Authority have agreed. (Read more here) While we will not be mandating this visual inspection as part of the standard (because some inspectors may not have had the requisite training), we are suggesting it is a good thing for those that are trained to do so, because an internal inspection of the electrical panel can identify many things that may have a serious impact on the buying decision.
A question was asked of us about what an inspector should say to a client who may want to open the electrical panel. We recommend the following is used as a standard narrative in your reports.
“In Ontario, electrical installation, repair and replacement work needs to be done in compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. The Code specifies how electrical work must be done. The Code is updated every few years to address emerging technology and improvements in safety practices.
Any work in the panel requires an electrical inspection permit. This includes like-for-like replacement of a failed breaker.
Edison screw fuses do not need a permit to replace, but one should always isolate the panel BEFORE removing the old fuse to prevent arc-flash.
Wiring which is not properly inspected may void your homeowners insurance.
Incompetent or improper wiring work can result in loss of life limb and property.
I am a Home Inspector and not a code inspector. While I have been trained to safely inspect residential electrical systems I am not an expert on electrical wiring.
I recommend a qualified licensed electrician perform any work that involves electrical wiring”
While we are not required to check Permits for work carried out on a property, knowing of work that has been carried out, and alerting your clients as to the possibility that they should themselves seek the status of permits can only benefit them from the perspective of safety and peace-of-mind.
Knowing what does and doesn’t need a permit is a good start to identifying what to say to your clients.
With respect to this question, we would like to thank the electrical safety authority for their permission to reproduce the information on this page for your education and benefit.
What electrical work needs a permit?
Consult the following chart for answers to the most common permit questions.