Have you given any thought to your electrical panel lately? Probably not in most cases. Do you know where it is located inside your home? Most of us do know that, it is behind that big pile of boxes in the basement, right? Unfortunately, this is the case many times during one of my home inspections. I am not a moving company, if items are blocked, I cannot inspect them.
In regards to the electrical panel in your home, there are certain clearances that you want to be observing. These clearances have been established for a number of reasons, so it is important that they are allowed for. The biggest reason for these clearances is safety of the home occupants. If, for whatever reason, the power needs to shut of immediately, it can be very hard to do with a pile of boxes in the way.
By maintaining the proper clearances in front of your homes' electrical panel, you can access it much easier when needed, such as when a breaker trips. If you need to have repairs done, it will also be appreciated by the electrician that will be performing the work. He's not a moving guy either.
The following clearances should be maintained around the electrical panel in your home. The minimum head room should be 6 ½'. You do not want to have to be all crouched down to access the panel, as you could stumble and fall into the panel, resulting in severe injury, or worse. In front of the panel, we are going to want to see 3' of clear open space. This will allow someone to stand directly in front of the electrical panel, and not have to lean over anything to perform work or switch the breakers in the electrical panel. Also, around the sides of the panel there should be 30" of clear, free space. This should eliminate anything falling into the panel if the cover is off while performing any electrical work on the panel itself.
Remember, for your own personal safety, please observe the above stated clearances in front of your homes' electrical panel. Do not store items in front of the panel, as emergency access will be hindered. If you are storing items in front of your electrical panel, please move them for your families' safety. If there are problems in your electrical panel, you may not notice them as quickly if you have it buried behind a wall of boxes.
The best practice is to keep your electrical panel unobstructed and have a clear path to access it in case of emergency. Go check your panel out right now. Is it easily accessible?
©Square One Home Inspection 2009