The Ins and Outs of Working with Electrical Inspectors

Jan. 12, 2023
How electrical installers and inspectors can maintain a positive and professional partnership

In the electrical trade, it’s no secret that installers (electricians and electrical contractors) don’t always see eye to eye with inspectors. While establishing and maintaining a good working partnership is the obvious goal/expectation, the relationship can be strained or even contentious at times. Whenever I think about the dynamic between these two groups, I always remember the analogy now-retired Keith Lofland, former director of education for the International Association of Electrical Inspectors (IAEI), used to make. He likened the role of an electrical inspector to a baseball umpire.

Outlining the concept in more detail in an article he wrote for EC&M a few years ago, “The Electrical Inspector and the Electrical Installer,” Lofland revealed why the underlying key to this “electrical marriage” is relatively simple. Working as a master electrician for years before becoming an inspector, Lofland said his perception of inspectors as the “bad guys” quickly changed after walking in their shoes. After trying his hand as an umpire, Lofland learned that his interpretation of every pitch had a significant outcome on each batter. “What I also discovered was that consistency was critical to both teams,” he wrote. “If I called a strike on a pitch a half of an inch on the outside of the plate, that was OK if I called that pitch a strike every time. That way, the batter knew they better swing at that pitch the next time they saw it coming down the pike.” He went on to describe feeling that same sense of responsibility as an electrical inspector or authority having jurisdiction (AHJ). The key was consistency in his interpretations.

Taking this topic a step further, Joseph Wages, Jr., digital education director at IAEI, who also holds state electrical licenses and several IAEI and ICC building-related certifications, reviews 10 of the most commonly cited electrical violations in the country based on feedback from electrical inspectors. To see which mistakes electrical installers tend to make the most when it comes to the NEC, turn to the cover story. This is a phenomenal piece that gets to the heart of why certain violations tend to crop up more frequently.

Speaking of great articles, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank IAEI for continuing to contribute such great content to EC&M from the electrical inspector’s point of view. If you haven’t already done so, check out the “Inspector Intel” column in print and online in which IAEI authors break down NEC guidelines for types of specific installations — and how these rules are often misapplied. These pieces have consistently performed exceptionally well with our readers online. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Why Educating Homeowners on GFCIs Matters

Kitchen Islands and New Receptacle Requirements in the 2020 NEC

Brushing Up on Your Box Fill Calculations Skills

How Well Do You Know Your Electrical Service Point?

Classification of Hazardous (Classified) Locations

Receptacle Deterioration Issues in Wet or Damp Locations

Common Code Violations with Swimming Pools

Tap, Tap, Tap

The History of Supply-Side Interconnections and the NEC

For more great topics, just search our website with the keywords “Inspector Intel.”

About the Author

Ellen Parson | Editor-in-Chief - EC&M

Ellen Parson is the Editor-in-Chief for EC&M. She has a journalism degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She's been a business-to-business writer and editor for more than 25 years, most of which have been covering the construction and electrical industries. Contact her at [email protected].

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