U Dirty RAT

Home Inspector with Cowles Home Inspection Services Inc.

Some home inspectors do not take the cover (dead front) off the electric panel for safety reasons. The accepted Standards of Practice in the industry do not require removal of the cover to complete the inspection.

However, for those of us that remove the panel cover to check for proper connections of the service entry cable to the panel lugs, wiring to breakers and proper sizing, grounding, etc. there can be surprises....

Electric panels have "knockouts" that are removed when the electrician needs an opening for wires to enter the panel. When ever a knockout is removed, the hole have a grommet installed to protect the wiring from the sharp panel edges and wiring in the hole. Only the knockouts needed for wiring should be removed, otherwise little critters like this rat can enter the panel.

Comments (7)

Joanne O'Donnell
Chic Home Interiors - Oakland, CA

Calvin, ok, that really freaks me out... now I will never be able to open one of those covers without cringing again! 

Feb 17, 2010 01:47 AM
Ron Tiller
Star Referral - Grand rapids MI - Grand Rapids, MI

Probably a third of the electrical panels that I have seen in 20 years have an issue that needs to be addressed. Over fusing, double taps etc. You keep opening those panels. Maybe keep a ball bat handy?

Feb 17, 2010 01:47 AM
"The Lovely Wife" (Broker Bryantnulls Wife) The One And Only TLW.
President-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc. - Kissimmee, FL


I know this really isn't funny, but I just have to say it:

This is why the rats are not allowed to run the race :)


Feb 17, 2010 02:09 AM
Calvin Cowles
Cowles Home Inspection Services Inc. - Newnan, GA

Joanne...You think it freaked YOU out!

Ron...It's part of the job as I see it!  I usually keep the cover between me and the panel as a shield and back away a few feet before setting it down.

TLW...It IS funny. The only good rat is a dead one!

Feb 17, 2010 02:18 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Calvin, so much can be learned by looking in the electric panel----lots of critters get found for sure:)

Feb 17, 2010 02:18 AM
Will Nesbitt
Nesbitt Realty at Condo Alexandria - Alexandria, VA
Nesbitt Realty is a family-run brokerage.

One false step in here and it's rat history.

Feb 21, 2010 02:29 AM
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Calvin, I would also add that in terms of taking the cover off the panel it varies from one Standard of Practice to another.  For example ASHI, NAHI and WA State require us to take the cover off whereas InterNACHI is more vague about it.

Feb 24, 2010 02:50 AM