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ELECTRICAL INSPECTION, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
ACCURACY vs PRECISION of MEASUREMENTS
AFCIs ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
ALUMINUM SECs & WIRING
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AMPS & VOLTS DETERMINATION
AMPACITY - the LIMITING FACTOR
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
BACKUP ELECTRICAL GENERATORS
BOOKSTORE - ELECTRICAL
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
Cadet & Encore Heater Recall
CIRCUIT BREAKER FAILURE
CIRCUIT BREAKER SIZE for A/C or HEAT PUMP
Classified CIRCUIT BREAKER WARNING
CORROSION in ELECTRICAL PANELS
CORROSION & MOISTURE SOURCES in PANELS
CUTLER HAMMER PANEL FIRE
DEFINITIONS of ELECTRICAL TERMS
DIRECTORY OF ELECTRICIANS
DMM Digital Multimeter, How to Use
ELECTRIC METERS & METER BASES
ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
ELECTRIC PANEL AMPACITY
ELECTRIC PANEL INSPECTION
ELECTRIC PANEL MOISTURE
Electric Power Frequency Table
ELECTRICAL DISTRIBUTION PANELS
ELECTRICAL GROUND SYSTEM INSPECTION
ELECTRICAL SERVICE DROP
ELECTRICAL SERVICE ENTRY WIRING
EMF RF FIELD & FREQUENCY DEFINITIONS
FEDERAL PACIFIC FPE HAZARDS
FIRE SAFETY Checklist, CPSC
GFCI PROTECTION,Testing GFCIs AFCIs
HEATING COST FUEL & BTU Cost Table
HEAT TAPE USAGE GUIDE
Hertz - Definitions of KHz MHz GHz THz
KNOB & TUBE WIRING
LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GUIDE
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LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEMS
LOW VOLTAGE BUILDING WIRING
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
MAIN DISCONNECT AMPACITY
MOISTURE SOURCES in PANELS
MURRAY SIEMENS Recall
PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEMS
PUSHMATIC - BULLDOG PANELS
REMOTE ELECTRIC POWER, PHOTOVOLTAIC
RUST in ELECTRICAL PANELS
SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS
SE CABLE SIZES vs AMPS
SIEMENS MURRAY Recall
UNDERGROUND SERVICE LATERALS
VOLTS / AMPS MEASUREMENT EQUIP
WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS
WIND TURBINES & LIGHTNING
ZINSCO SYLVANIA ELECTRICAL PANELS
Hazards of touching electrical equipment - safety procedures: this article reviews safe and unsafe methods for touching or not-touching electrical equipment during its inspection. Warning: photographs in the article below include one of a gruesome death by electrocution. Electrical safety is an important consideration for both workers and building owners/occupants, and the hazards are real. This is chapter of our article on electrical safety procedures which discusses safety hazards at residential electrical panels and suggests safety procedures for the electrical inspector, home inspector, or other professionals who examine residential electrical systems. Also see SAFETY: ELECTRICAL INSPECTION SAFETY.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
The gruesome death by electrocution shown in the photograph at page top occurred when the man shown tried to steal electrical power from a high voltage cable. - Jim Simmons
From a safety view, these are bad ideas that can kill someone. Never rely on physical touch to judge electrical safety of a component.
In the same ASHI Training Manual chapter the author, Al Alk, offers another more accepted suggestion: "Inspectors should practice working around open enclosures with the left hand behind the back. If the right hand receives a shock the current will more likely pass down the right half of the body: the heart is on the left side. Inspectors who wear rings must be especially wary when working near an open box." [NOTE: ASHI Training Manual, Op. Cit.- Obsolete]
Grounding: A basic rule for working around electrical equipment: if you are yourself not grounded, and if you only touch one single component at a time, risks are reduced. Never ground yourself through your feet. Don't stand on a wet floor. If it's necessary to touch electrical components in such a location, a trained electrical worker uses a dry ungrounded platform such as boards or a wooden ladder.
Rings and watches: When working around electrical equipment, first remove rings and watches to reduce the risk of electric shock. At an IBM test site in Poughkeepsie, NY in the 1980's a test technician was killed while working on a computer. His metal watch band contacted a live component while other body parts were touching a grounded component, possibly the steel frame of the assembly. Similar accidents around electric panels are a real risk for home inspectors.
Electric Panel cover screws: if you find that a sharp-tipped sheet metal screw has been used (usually to replace a lost original fastener) you should be alert for pierced, damaged, short-circuited wires in the panel - both during removal and during panel cover replacement. We will not reinstall a sharp-pointed screw in a panel cover if wires are crowded close to the screw opening. Having seen more than one shorted and burned panel from precisely this cause, we warn clients about this unsafe detail. It is trivial to correct.
Never Assume You've Turned Power Off - Use a Neon Tester, Voltage Detector, or Multimeter
The most basic electrical safety procedure I can think of when working on electrical devices or electrical wiring involves knowing how to:
I never touch something electrical that I've "turned off" without using at least a neon tester to or a voltage detection pen to see that electrical power is really off. In 1970 I turned off power to a junction box to fix a light - the light went out - so I figured that all electrical power to the junction box was really off. Then while wiggling wires in the junction box I got a huge spark and a little shock.
Some nitwit had run two different live circuits into the same junction box.
Now I'm more careful. I figure that if you don't electrocute yourself, the rest is easy - you can always run out of a burning building. Well really inspectors have more responsibility than that: in addition to not killing yourself, you must protect the safety of your clients and of the occupants of buildings on which you've performed work.
VOLTAGE MEASUREMENT EQUIPMENT describes voltage sensors, DMMs, VOMs, and other choices of equipment we use for testing electrical circuits and for performing basic electrical or appliance wiring repairs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Questions & answers about shock and electrocution hazards when touching electrical equipment during an inspection.
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