Do you own a home that’s older than 20 years? Have you ever allowed anyone who isn’t a licensed electrician to work on your electrical system? Then there’s a good chance your wiring, outlets, switches, or circuits aren’t in compliance with the National Electric Code. And while that may not sound like a huge deal, code violations can be dangerous, depending on what they involve. These violations can also make it difficult for you to sell your home if you ever decide to list it, since it may not pass a pre-purchase inspection.
Curious whether your house has a few code violations? Check out the most common ones we tend to find below. As always, if you find anything amiss with your electrical system, give our team at Harrison Electric a call so we can come fix it.
Lack of Circuit Protection in the Appropriate Areas
According to the NEC, all outlets that have the potential to get wet must have GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protection. Not sure what that is? It’s the type of outlet you’ve likely seen that has a reset button and a test button in the center of the receptacle.
You should also have AFCI (arc fault circuit interrupter) outlets in all living areas, especially if any cords plugged into the outlet are likely to get pinched by something. These outlets protect against dangerous electrical arcing that may be caused by a frayed cord or damaged wiring. Your circuit breaker may not detect arcing until after a fire has started, but an AFCI outlet can prevent a fire from happening altogether.
Old Wiring Supplying New Devices
If you have old wiring in your house — like aluminum wiring or knob and tube wiring — you need to have an electrician perform rewiring stat. These types of wiring were phased out because they’re hazardous and present a serious fire risk. Not to mention, antiquated wiring isn’t capable of handling the amount of current that modern appliances and devices require.
Not Having Tamper-Resistant Outlets
If you have kids and you don’t have tamper-resistant outlets, you should install them for safety’s sake, not simply because you’re in violation of the NEC. That said, as of 2017, the NEC requires tamper-resistant outlets on all 125-volt, 15- and 20-amp receptacles in residential dwellings and child care facilities, as well as guest rooms in hospitality operations.
For protection against electrical shock or electrocution, it’s in your best interest to have an electrician perform outlet replacements on any low-lying outlets that aren’t tamper resistant.
Improper Outdoor Outlet Covers
All outdoor electrical receptacles must have a cover to protect them from moisture. But you can’t just install any cover and call it good. Flat covers are only designed to protect outlets when they’re not in use, but it’s not uncommon to have something plugged in for several days or longer. When that occurs, you must use a bubble cover to provide protection for both the receptacle and the plug.
As a general rule, if you think any outlet has any chance of getting wet, put an in-use cover (a bubble cover on it). All 15- and 20-amp receptacles that are in both damp and wet locations should also be rated as weather-resistant. If you don’t currently have these types of outlets outdoors, it’s in your best interest to schedule outlet replacement with an electrician.
Blocking or Crowding an Electrical Service Panel
According to the NEC, all electrical service panels (circuit breaker panels or fuse panels) should have a working clearance around them. That clearance should be three feet deep, 30 inches wide, and 80 inches high.
If you have anything in front of your services panel that may make it difficult to access the circuits or fuses in the event of an emergency, that could spell trouble. It’s in your best interest to do a little rearranging to ensure the panel is readily accessible from all sides. As a rule of thumb, if you can’t currently fit a refrigerator in front of your panel, there’s not enough space around it.
Schedule Electrical Updates With a Minneapolis Electrician Today
If your home’s electrical system isn’t up to code, let our team at Harrison Electric help you and your loved ones stay safe. Whether you’re planning to sell your house in the future or simply want to ensure your home has the appropriate wiring, outlets, and fixtures for your household electricity needs, we’re here to make that happen. All of our electricians are fully licensed, bonded, and insured, and we’ve proudly served Minneapolis and the surrounding areas for over 30 years.
To learn more or get started, give us a call today at 763-544-3300 or request a service quote online, and we’ll be in touch!