JD’s Blog | Electrical Code Violations
The National Electrical Code (NEC) may just look like a big book on electrical components and wiring installation instructions but it is the law and everyone must adhere to it. The NEC has been adopted by 50 states and is a set of comprehensive safety standards that ensures all buildings, homes, and commercial establishments are as safe as possible for the general population.
Most of the code is constant throughout the country although there may be some variances depending on where you are located. In order to make sure an entire neighborhood is electrically sound and safe, most communities conduct home improvement projects that target any electrical code violations that may prove to be a threat.
It isn’t surprising that a lot of older homes still have unsafe and outdated wiring installed. When selling your house, however, a home inspector is likely to point it out as a problem and the owner will most likely have to replace it to ensure the safety of all future residents. Keep in mind that many of today’s appliances did not even exist when your older home was built. Trying to run some modern appliances, even something small like a hair dryer, can put a burden on your electrical system.
The following is a list of potential dangers that violate the safety of your home.
Safe Kitchen and Bathroom Receptacles
The NEC requires that all outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, and any other moist place in the house must be installed with specifically GFCI outlets since they are specifically built for places where there is tendency for moisture to accumulate. GFCI stands for “ground fault circuit indicator”. Professionals call them GFI’s.
Similar to kitchen and bathrooms, the receptacles outside of your house must also be protected by GFCI. Install a fully waterproofed cover and box, placed at least a foot from the ground to avoid rainwater seeping in. The garage outlets are also required to be GFCI protected. Excluded are the garage door opener outlet and washer / dryer outlet. There are several ways to install GFCI protection. You can use a GFCI circuit breaker which protects the entire circuit. You can install one GFCI devise at the beginning of the circuit and by using the “load” side of the devise, every outlet past the devise is protected. This is the most common, most inexpensive method, but most un-recommended method. These devises trip off easily. When that happens, every outlet protected by the master GFCI devise looses power. Then you have to know where the master devise is located. I recommend installing one at every required location. If it trips off, it’s the only one that’s off. I had a situation once where a carpenter buried a master GFCI receptacle behind a built-in cabinet in a garage. There were at least a half dozen outlets without power, including the garage door opener. There was no way to get to the master devise to reset it. I had to run new power to the garage door outlet, in metal conduit across the garage ceiling to restore power to a dozen outlets. Consider the big picture.
Three-Pronged Ungrounded Outlets
Older homes with outdated electrical systems aren’t as thoroughly grounded as new homes. To accommodate new appliances that are manufactured with three pronged outlets, homeowners of older homes sometimes add three-pronged outlets that aren’t grounded, ignoring the dangers it poses. Basically, it’s the same as adding one of those 3 prong adaptors. Legal, but not advised. Installing 3 prong devises on ungrounded wiring give a false sense of security.
Wires Too Close to Framing
The NEC also states that all types of wires must at least be located 1.25 inches away from wooden framing to prevent nails and screws from driving into the wires. If you don’t have a choice but to run your wire close to 1.25 inches, it is recommended that you protect the wires with a nail plate. This applies to when the house is being wired. An electrical inspector will determine if a wire passing through a stud has enough wood around it before requiring a nail plate. This is not something you could ever determine without removing all the drywall.
By adhering to the code properly, you can prevent any steep fines and many electrical hazards. Our San Diego electricians will provide you with a thorough electrical code inspection to ensure your electrical system is up to the NEC’s standards. If we find something that is currently not up to code, we can upgrade the electrical work while we’re at your home. We will go through your electrical service panel to check for proper connections, and we will also check your internal breaker panel to check for proper breaker usage.