Why All the Crap In Front?

Home Inspector with Square One Home Inspection

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.

Beaver Dam home inspector explains electrical panel clearances

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

Posted by


Ian A Niquette


 Square One Home Inspection proudly serves Green Lake, Fond du Lac, Dodge, Marquette, Columbia, Winnebago, and Waushara Counties. Complete home inspections and Radon testing available.




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Tom Boos
Sine & Monaghan Realtors, Real Living - Grosse Pointe Farms, MI
Providing the very best of service to Sellers and

It seems like we always have to move boxes and shelving and such in order to get to the service panel of most homes visited.  Thanks for your recommendation.

Aug 10, 2009 01:07 AM #1
Carol Hanson Sheehy
Prudential Florida Realty - Naples, FL

That is an area in most of the condominiums that I deal with that is totally clear.  I can see in houses where it could be more of a problem. 

Aug 10, 2009 01:21 AM #2
William Feela
Realtor, Whispering Pines Realty 651-674-5999 No.

Ian...very good point.  It's like when they put the box in  a very small closet

Aug 11, 2009 12:33 AM #3
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

Ian, thanks for visiting my blog.  This blog post is a good point.  Would you mind if I printed it for use in my Seller Packets?

Aug 12, 2009 01:54 PM #4
Ian Niquette
Square One Home Inspection - Markesan, WI

Damon, glad yo ufound it informative. Feel free to use it, it might come in handy for you.

Aug 12, 2009 11:28 PM #5
Dana Bostick
True Professionals, Inc. - North Hollywood, CA

Many clients and homeowners do not "get" it when I describe these requirements.  The electrical panel is something most have NEVER had to access.

I make it much clearer by telling them to imagine that an old style phone booth has to fit in front of the panel. They can "see" that picture easily.  I can see the "light come on" when I describe it this way.

Aug 15, 2009 02:21 AM #6
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

I like Dana's comment (#6) about how he describes the space required.

Inadequate clearance in front of electric panel

Sep 02, 2009 08:48 PM #7
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