If you’re not well-versed in electrical work (what homeowner really is?) you may have a few glaring electrical code violations hiding within your home. After all, unless you’re a licensed residential electrician, why on earth would stay up to date with changes to the National Electrical Code?

At Harrison Electric, we want you to know that every three years, the governing body that designs electrical code, the NEC, updates and releases a new publication. And in 2020, they’ve done it again. Below, we’re discussing the dangers of a few of the most common residential code violations we see and detailing suggestions for keeping your home and family safe.

Improper Covers on Outdoor Receptacles

Do your outdoor outlets have covers? If so, great! But do they have the correct covers? The ones required by the National Electrical Code? If you’re like most homeowners, you probably don’t know the difference, and that’s completely normal. Here’s a quick breakdown of what to look for:

●        Bubble covers. These covers look a lot like their name: like a bubble over the outlet. Bubble covers, also known as in-use covers, protect the receptacle while cords are plugged into the outlet. If you believe the outlet may get wet for any reason, there should be a bubble cover on it.

●        Flat covers. These covers are the type you see most frequently on outdoor outlets. They have hinged covers that you must lift to access the receptacle, and those covers automatically snap back into place when you remove plugs from the outlet. It’s important to note that these covers only protect the receptacle when it’s not in use. As such, they’re not appropriate for any outdoor outlets you use frequently, or on a continual basis.

●        Weather-resistant receptacles. While these aren’t covers per se, they do provide additional shock protection for areas that are prone to water accumulation. If you have any 15- or 20-amp outdoor receptacles, they must be both weather resistant and tamper resistant. 

Obstructions to Your Electrical Service Panel

According to national electric code, you must have a working clearance around any electrical service panel in your home. This required space is designed to give residential electricians plenty of room to work on the panel safely, since operating in a cramped space leaves room for error and injury. The dimensions of the clearance you must have are:

●        30 inches wide

●        3 feet deep

●        6 feet, 8 inches high

A good rule of thumb is to take a peek at the space around your electrical panel and determine if you can fit a refrigerator there. If not, you need to open up more space around the panel to comply with code.

Too Few Outlets

If you own an older home, chances are it has too few outlets to comply with national electric code. And yes, even if you don’t use all the outlets in your house, you still need to bring it up to code. To comply with code, you must be able to reach an outlet with a six-foot electrical cord from any point along your walls. If any of the rooms in your home do not feature enough outlets to comply with the regulation, a residential electrician can retrofit those rooms with additional receptacles.

Not Using GFCI  and AFCI Outlets in the Appropriate Locations

Both ground-fault circuit interrupter outlets and arc-fault circuit interrupter outlets are designed to protect you from electrical shock. They weren’t always required by national electrical code, but GFCI outlets and AFCI outlets were mandated in residential construction in 1971 and 2014, respectively.

If you don’t have these outlets around water sources or in bedrooms and living areas, it’s important that you contact a residential electrician for outlet replacement services. Your safety is at stake if you leave them as is.

Time to Upgrade Old Wiring In Your House? Contact Harrison Electric Today

At Harrison Electric, we’ve been serving Twin Cities homeowners with comprehensive electrical work for over 30 years. We’re dedicated to helping you keep your home and family as safe as possible, so when you need to upgrade your outdated wiring, don’t hesitate to contact our team. We specialize in residential electrical services, including upgrading old electrical panels, rewiring homes, electrical TISH evaluations, outlet upgrades, and much more. And, because we know your electricity doesn’t only operate during working hours, we’re available 24/7, whenever you need us.

To learn more about how we can bring your home up to code or replace your outdated fixtures, give us a call at 763-544-3300 or reach out to us on our contact page.