This section of my Chicago Condo Inspection Manual will help you to ensure that your property developer / electrical contractor followed local electrical code requirements while wiring your brand new condo or a gut-rehabbed property.

You’ll find here general Chicago new condo electrical requirements and more details concerning your kitchen, bathroom and the laundry area will be explained separately. Because this condo inspection manual is designed for anyone to be able to follow, you don’t have to worry about being electrocuted while following my steps – you won’t need to remove covers from electrical panels, outlets or switches. 

If you spot some problems on the “surface”, there is usually more cut corners underneath and licensed electrician evaluation would be needed.

Chicago condo main electrical panel requirements

Your condo main electrical panel might be located in various areas. The most common are main hallway wall, utility room, bedroom wall.

  • Your Chicago condo electrical panel must have 30″ (36″ NEC) of open space in front of it and it should be installed on at least 30″ wide section of the wall (no shelves, cabinets, appliances, etc. on that 30″).  For example, if you have to reach over the washer / dryer to the electrical panel – this is not an electrical code approved installation.
  • When you open your new condo main electrical panel access door, there should be a 100 amp rated main disconnect (doesn’t apply to partial condo conversions). If your electrical panel has less than 6 circuit breakers (NEC), the only main disconnect might be installed somewhere in the basement or common area / next to the electrical meters – find out.

Chicago building code permits more than six circuit breakers in the main electrical panel, and the main disconnect located in different location.

You’re not going to be able to check if power supply cables are also rated for 100 amps without unscrewing of the panel cover – this should be done by a professional. The reason I’m mentioning it is that sometimes they are not, which is a fire hazard.

Chicago condo inspection - electrical panel basicsCheck for labeling inside the condo electrical panel – each circuit breaker should have a short description of the area it controls.

  • There must be at least two 20 amps rated circuit breakers marked for kitchen counter outlets, and additional for dishwasher, garbage disposal, refrigerator – not required but it makes sense. An average of 4-5 circuit breakers dedicated for kitchen electrical circuits is very common.
  • Separate 20 amps rated circuit breaker for each bathroom / depending on installed hydro spa motor size, hydro spa heater, bathroom floor heating, steam unit, etc, additional circuit breakers might be required and labeled. Example – if your bathroom has a hydro-spa heater, it needs an extra circuit breaker.
  • Minimum one 20 amps rated circuit breaker is required for the laundry area for a receptacle(s) providing power to washer/dryer.
  • Bedroom labeled circuit breaker(s) must be AFCI type (since January 1, 2002) – check AFCI requirements changes in 2008 electrical code. This AFCI breaker has a test button, and it should trip / turn OFF the power to your bedroom when depressed. Test all the bedroom outlets after tripping the breaker (use a table lamp or an outlet tester – you can purchase one for under $10.00 in any local Home Depot®/Menards® or Lowes®, smaller hardware stores might be more expensive, buy one with GFCI test option).

Also test bedroom & bedroom closet lights – you should not be able to turn anything ON after tripping AFCI breaker . Test lights and electrical outlets in surrounding areas too – bedroom marked AFCI breaker should only protect the bedroom (check 2008 NEC AFCI changes)

Chicago condo outlets general rules (not for kitchens, bathrooms and laundry area):

  • Hallway 10’ and longer requires an outlet

Chicago condo inspection - electrical outlets wall spacingChicago condo inspection - electrical outlets installation on 24 inches and wider wall 1Chicago condo inspection - electrical outlets installation on 24 inches and wider wall 2All rooms should have electrical outlets installed in such way that there’s no place along the wall further than 6’ from a receptacle. If there’s a 2’ or wider wall space (e.g. between the closet and bathroom doors) – it also requires a receptacle.

  • If you have a fixed glass section that continues to the floor, there should be a floor receptacle installed within 18″ from the wall /glass (fixed glass section counts as a wall)
  • All exterior (balcony, porch, etc) electrical outlets must be GFCI protected

Chicago Condo Inspection Manual

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