I had a final inspection last week on a new custom home. I was there punching down phone lines in the basement as the inspector went around checking receptacles. I don't like to hover over inspectors as they inspect. The GC came down to where I was and told me the inspector was removing cover plates and pulling switches and receptacles out of their boxes. The GC was having a fit because everything was finished and the inspector wasn't being too careful as far as not sctatching up the walls. I went up and asked him what he was doing pulling energized devices out of wall boxes. Here's what he said and I swear I'm not making this up. "I have a new requirement that all device boxes be either blown out with an air hose or vaccumed and then wiped out with a damp cloth. This will prevent any dust that could ignite if there is an arc in there." I told him he was violating safety rules, voiding the homeowner's warranty and risking damage with what he was doing. When I caught up to him he was cramming my once neatly folded wires back into a receptacle box(metal box lucky he didn't skin a hot one). I also told him he couldn't enforce any such rule because it didn't exist in our locally adopted code. Then the GC jumped him for re-installing the cover plates without making sure all of the screws had the slots vertical(this GC is anal about detail). Just to stir the stink I told the GC in front of the inspector that if I had to straighten any receptacles, cover plates or screws the inspector had jacked with I was going to charge him for it. The GC turned to the inspector and told him he would send the bill to the county. The inspector didn't remove anything else but he left with a 4 gang switch box with all 4 switches hanging out. That was a pain to line up the first time. Have any of you ever heard of this requirement before?
I won't name the town but it was in Massachusetts. The inspector for that town also owned and electrical business. Seemed like he made it hard for several electricians who did work in his area. I do believe it's our rights ( and I must note I'm no longer in the field) to register a complaint with the state board of electricians. Nothing against inspectors, I'm friends with a few of them, but there's always someone, a bad electrican a bad cop, doesn't mean the whole group is bad.
Re: New Inspector requirement#45659 12/04/0409:36 PM12/04/0409:36 PM
He could have inspected for "any dust that could ignite if there is an arc in there." by simply removing the cover plate. He did not have to remove the devices themselves. A complaint to his boss should be in order since this extra work is unnecessary and taking up valuable time. ~Peter
Re: New Inspector requirement#45660 12/04/0409:55 PM12/04/0409:55 PM
That is an odd story. There is an inspector here in Mass (And I will name the town, Medford) that would not even test the receptacles. He would however make you test them while he watched. He will also make you remove the panel cover so he can look inside. While I do think he should be looking in the panel, I don't think it is unreasonable for the guy to turn out four or six screws. Particularly when an inspection appointment is "Sometime today make sure the cover is off the panel". Yea ok I'll just leave it on the floor, you come by when you get a free minute.
Re: New Inspector requirement#45661 12/04/0409:58 PM12/04/0409:58 PM
Rock dust isn't, but saw dust is. (Usually from trim capentry after the rock goes up.) More often than not they (trim capenters)will still be there when I come back, so I will grab thier compressor hose and blow out my boxes, especially panels, as dust on the breaker busses make for a poor connection, I often wipe them too. With a nozzle you can do it from a few feet away. On that note, never have I had to show that I did it, just thought I was going the extra inch.
But an Inspector with a screw-driver is not cool. Thats my job, I charge exorbanant fees or add it to the bid for me to be there for that wait, and to jump through that hoop, its the most relaxing element of the job for me. (To have the covers off, answer questions, BS, talk shop, drink too much coffee, and open plates if need be.) As said before, no need to remove devices, especially by him, and worse he did it live. IMO The only tool an Inspector should have or use is a pen.
Mark Heller "Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
Re: New Inspector requirement#45663 12/05/0410:32 AM12/05/0410:32 AM
I teach inspectors in CT how to be inspectors (the first such program in the country). We teach them that the liability of them taking off covers themselves is enormous. They should have the code books, a tape measure, a receptacle tester, a flashlight, and pen and paper for their tools. Optional tools include a laser pointer. (It sure beats the flashlight for pointing out the items needing attention.) All items needing to be opened up should be opened up by the contractor. I realize this creates problems with appointments to meet, open panel covers, etc. But, these are things that have to be worked out.
As an aside, when I was inspecting, I would sometimes open panel covers on my own if the electrician wasn't around. (But, I am an electrician, too). And, I might have taken off a faceplate or two for a peek, but I would never take a receptacle or switch out! (too much work to get it back in)
It is a fine line we tread of doing a good and thorough job of inspecting and being helpful to the contractor. After all, the aim of the building inspection department is code compliant and safe buildings in our town. If we make it hard on the builders, then they tend to sneak things past. If we are too easy, then they get sloppy. It ain't easy to find that combination of enforcement and helpfulness.
Re: New Inspector requirement#45664 12/05/0411:47 AM12/05/0411:47 AM
The problem in this state (MA) is that the inspectors are town or city employees. The job is generally not what you know but who you know. Many are part time and not paid very well. It makes it hard for everyone involved. If people had a permit and inspection for every job people did people would never have time to actually perform any work. The reality is "I'll get there some time after eleven" just does not cut it. It is not fair and it is not right. These are our tax dollars and permit fees at work.
Re: New Inspector requirement#45665 12/06/0406:37 AM12/06/0406:37 AM
I had half that prob a while back. They wanted the boxes vacuumed before final. They did tell us in advance so it didn't create a prob. At final time the inspector asked me to open 3 boxes (which he chose). He chose 1 gangs so it was fairly painless. We didn't complain 'cause we knew in advance that it was gonna happen.