Inspection Training

How to Inspect the Garage Electrical Outlets

While the inspector is in the garage they should check the electrical outlets to make sure they are GFCI protected. This one item is actually something we won’t do while we are in the garage the first time and instead come back at the end of the inspection to complete. The reason for this is to make sure we have time stamped photos that prove we reset the outlets and they were on when we left the property. Please review the entire procedure below.


International Standards of Practice for Performing a General Home Inspection


3.7. Electrical


I. The inspector shall inspect:

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: N/A


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

D. Any tested receptacle in which power was not present, polarity was incorrect, the cover was not in place, the GFCI devices were not properly installed or did not operate properly, evidence of arcing or excessive heat, and where the receptacle was not grounded or was not secured to the wall.


IV. The inspector is not required to:



Axium SOP Differences

Axium Requires: Same as NACHI Standards of Practice.


Tools Needed

The inspector will need to use the GFCI receptacle tester to test all outlets in the garage.



  • Plug GFCI tester into garage outlets and use the reset button to trip the outlet. If all the electrical outlets in the garage are not working, that should tell you there could be a GFCI outlet tripped somewhere or not resetting properly. Make sure you look for double GFCI’s on a circuit.
  • Make sure to trip every GFCI outlet that is accessible and document in the report by taking a picture of the GFCI receptacle tester plugged into the outlet with the proper light on. All garage outlets should be GFCI protected.
  • If the garage outlet is not working, the sign for that is a finger on the test button of the outlet tester showing that it didn’t trip properly. If there is another defect, like reverse polarity, you would point to the lights of the GFCI tester indicating that specific defect. If the lights aren’t working properly or the picture doesn’t show the lights on the tester, use both fingers to point to the lights that should be on, indicating the defect.
  • Testing the garage outlet should NOT be done while you are inspecting the garage, instead save that for the end of the inspection so you can confirm that the GFCI has been reset. If there is a refrigerator or freezer plugged into the GFCI outlet take an additional picture with the doors open showing that the lights are on and that it is working. The reason that we wait until the end to take this picture is so that it is time stamped to show the refrigerator or freezer was on when we left the property. This picture will save you from having to buy a full freezer of spoiled food. This goes for any refrigerator or freezer that is plugged into a GFCI outlet, so make sure to check for the same thing and take pictures if there is a freezer/refrigerator in another part of the home, like the basement.

Common Defects

  • No GFCI protection.
  • Damaged or missing faceplate – Damaged or missing weatherproof cover.
  • GFCI has multiple on one circuit, not grounded, will not reset, will not trip, or is notpresent.
  • Open Neutral – Reverse Polarity – Obstructed – Not Working – Not Grounded –Obstructed – Wired to Light.
  • Outlet has knockouts/gaps, is loose, or has loose contacts.

Common Mistakes

  • Not resetting the GFCI after it has been tripped:
    • For a garage outlet, the reset button will either be on the outlet that we are tripping, or it could be anywhere on any of the other exterior outlets, so you will continue to look as you go around the home. It could also be in the basement.
    • In some older homes, it could actually be on a bathroom GFCI outlet, so all the bathrooms, garage and exterior could all be on one GFCI circuit.
    • On newer homes, sometimes it could be on a basement circuit, so the garage, the outside and the basement circuit could all be on one circuit, so you would look in the basement for GFCI circuit. The primary place to look in a basement for a GFCI is somewhere around the stairs. The stairs were built at the time the home was built, even if the basement was finished or unfinished, so usually under the stairs, they will put the GFCI circuit.
    • Inspector should always re-check to make sure any GFCI’s are reset after they test them. Make sure the inspector finds the reset and they do not just leave the property. That’s a number one complaint that we get is that the GFCI is not working or outlet is not working when people come home, after we have been at the property. This is especially true if the GFCI is connected to a refrigerator or freezer because we don’t want to ruin the food. The garage door opener might also be connected to it and if the GFCI is off, the owners won’t be able to open the garage door remotely when they return home.


Report / Software


  • Garage electrical outlets were Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)-protected and responded to testing and appeared to be in serviceable condition at the time of the inspection.
  • 220v Outlet: The 220-volt [3-pronged/4-pronged] electrical outlet in the garage was inspected and appeared to be in serviceable condition at the time of the inspection.


  • The electricity was not on at the property at time of the inspection and garage electrical outlets and other electrical components could not be inspected. A qualified contractor should perform a complete electrical inspection once electricity is turned on to the property.
  • No Access: The garage electrical outlets were blocked or covered with stored or installed items at the time of the inspection.


  • The garage did not have any visible electrical outlets at the time of the inspection.


  • No GFCI
    • No Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection was provided for the garage electrical outlets. Although GFCI protection of exterior circuits may not have been required at the time in which this property was built, as general knowledge of safe building practices has improved with the passage of time, building standards have changed to reflect current understanding.
    • The inspector recommends updating the existing garage electrical circuits to include GFCI protection. This can be achieved by:
      • 1. Replacing the current standard outlets with GFCI outlets.
      • 2. Replacing the first circuit outlet located closest to the main electrical service panel with a GFCI outlet.
      • 3. Replacing the breaker currently protecting the electrical circuit that contains these outlets with a GFCI breaker.
      • A qualified electrical contractor should inspect and repair as necessary.
  • [word 1] garage electrical outlet(s) [word 2]. A qualified contractor should evaluate and repair or replace as necessary and according to current standards.
    • Damaged
    • Damaged Weatherproof Cover (Faceplate Damaged)
    • GFCI Multiple on 1 circuit
    • GFCI Not Grounded
    • GFCI Not Present
    • GFCI Will Not Trip
    • GFCI Will Not Reset
    • GFCI Works When Tripped
    • Loose
    • Loose Contacts
    • No Cover Plate
    • No Weatherproof Cover
    • Not Attached
    • Not Grounded
    • Not Working
    • Obstructed
    • Open Neutral
    • Reverse Polarity