Inspection Training

How to Inspect the Electrical Circuit Breakers (UPDATED 1/19/18)

While the inspector is at the electrical panel they should be checking to make sure that all of the breakers are in good working condition. If there are any breakers that are missing, broken or a different brand from the other breakers, it should be called out as a defect. Please review the entire procedure below.



International Standards of Practice for Performing a General Home Inspection


3.7. Electrical


I. The inspector shall inspect:

H. Panelboards and over-current protection devices (circuit breakers or fuses).

J. A representative number of switches, lighting fixtures, and receptacles, including receptacles observed and deemed to be arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI)-protected using the AFCI test button, where possible.

K. All ground-fault circuit interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers observed and deemed to be GFCIs using a GFCI tester, where possible.


II. The inspector shall describe:



III. The inspector shall report as in need of correction:

B. Any unused circuit-breaker panel opening that was not filled.


IV. The inspector is not required to:

B. Operate electrical systems that are shut down.
I. Activate any electrical systems or branch circuits that are not energized.


Axium SOP Differences

Axium Requires: Same as NACHI Standards of Practice.


Tools Needed

No tools required to inspect the electrical circuit breakers.


  • The inspector will check the circuit breakers while the panel cover is off to make sure that they are properly secured and there are no different brands in the panel.
  • We also want to use the test button on any GFCI and/or AFCI breakers to make sure that they are working properly.
  • Also, look for any double taps, signs of overheating, and the wire breaker size/insulation.
  • If everything looks good and there are no defects we will take one picture showing all of the circuit breakers.


Common Defects

  • The AFCI or GFCI breakers don’t trip when tested.
  • There are different brands of breakers in the electrical panel.
  • There is a double tap or signs of overheating.
  • The wire breaker size or insulation is insufficient or damaged.

Common Mistakes

  • Not checking all of the breakers to make sure that the brands are the same.
  • Not testing the AFCI or GFCI breakers that are in the panel.
  • Not checking the circuit breakers for general damage or that they are secured in the electrical panel.


Report / Software


  • Circuit breakers in the [word 1] electrical service panel appeared to be in serviceable condition at the time of the inspection.
    • Identify:
      • Main
      • Sub


  • The circuit breakers could not be evaluated at the time of the inspection [word 1].
    • Blocked (Cabinets)
    • Blocked (Personal Items)
    • Blocked (Shelving)
    • Door (Locked)
    • It was not installed at the time of the inspection
    • No Size ID
    • Not Visible
    • Sealed with Paint
    • Trim Covers Screws
  • Inadequate Clearance: Inspecting this component requires removing the electrical panel cover. According to the NEC (National Electrical Code), safe inspection of a residential electrical panel requires a working space or clearance of at least 36 inches in front, 30 inches of width, and a minimum headroom clearance of 6 feet, or the height of the equipment, whichever is greater. In the opinion of the inspector, the conditions in front of the electrical panel at the time of the inspection did not allow for these safe clearances. Recommend providing the clearances mentioned so the electrical panel can be safely accessed in the future.


  • N/A


  • [word 1] in the [word 2] electrical service panel. A qualified contractor should evaluate and repair or replace as necessary and according to current standards.
    • Defect:
      • AFCI No Trip
      • Different Brand
      • Double Tap
      • GFCI No Trip
      • Overheating
      • Wire Breaker Size
      • Wire Insulation
    • Identify:
      • Main
      • Sub

AFCI Breaker Procedure:

  • Read the Special Instructions/Notes for the inspection property.
  • Some homeowners have sensitive electronics, and have instructed us NOT to test the AFCI breaker.
  • If no special instructions are present, test the AFCI by pressing the blue button.
  • Document results in the report.