“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” It’s an old saying that many people have taken to heart, particularly when it comes to home care. There are tons of people out there who perform DIY repairs on their home quite frequently, knowing full well that with their skills and tools, they could save a lot of money doing so. And for many things that’s great. However, for electricity, not so much.
As Ontario electricians, we are called to inspect and repair a number of homes and businesses which have been the subject of DIY repairs and seen all sorts of issues. In fact, we often see repairs which are extremely well-done, but they need to be removed because they’re actually a massive electrical code violation. And that’s a huge problem, particularly if you’re planning on selling your property anytime soon—a building inspector is going to catch them in a hurry.
Here are four common ways DIY repairers may accidentally create a code violation that will need to be fixed again later.
Choosing the Wrong Circuit Breaker
Circuit breakers replaced traditional fuses as our way of protecting homes from overcurrent, protecting people and preventing massive electrical fires. However, today they have advanced considerably and electrical codes have implemented these advancements aggressively. Standard circuit breakers are actually only allowed on a select few circuits anymore, including those that are reserved for protecting large home electrical appliances like your HVAC system.
Anywhere water is present and small appliances will be used is now required to be on a ground fault circuit interrupter, which is a specialized piece of equipment that detects high amounts of current and shuts off. This could be from a short in the line, but is designed to prevent someone from being electrocuted by mixing water and electricity. Kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor outlets should all be on GFCI circuits.
Every other living area in your home is now required to be on an arc-fault circuit interrupter, which is a specialized piece of equipment which is designed to detect arcing conditions like frayed wires. They used to just be required for bedrooms, but today’s building codes require that all living areas, such as your family room, dining room, game room, garage, and much more are all on these circuits.
Using Non-Tamper-Resistant Receptacles
Tamper-resistant receptacles are one of the greatest life-saving inventions for parents with young and curious children. Tamper-resistant receptacles are designed to stop young children from inserting objects into them like paper clips or other small pieces of metal. They’re now required for all electrical locations, both indoors and out. And likewise, if you have young children, it’s just a smart idea to make sure they’re safe and protected.
Installing the Wrong Cover on an Outdoor Receptacle
In the past, outdoor receptacles were covered by a small, flat door that was lined with a weather gasket to prevent easy water leaks. These are no longer compliant with codes. The national electrical code lists unprotected outdoor locations as “wet locations” and other outdoor areas as “damp locations.” In either case, you’re required to use a “bubble cover” that’s designed to offer more thorough and comprehensive protection for your receptacle as well as provide support for any extension cords that may be plugged in for a long period of time.
Crowding a Service Panel
This may be one that’s more for commercial DIY fixers, but we see it occasionally in homes as well, especially older ones. Service panels and breaker panels need to be kept clear and easy to access at all times. An emergency may require that you get to the panel and shut off a switch as quickly as possible, and having to move something out of the way is only going to take more time and increase the risk of a fire or accident. National electrical code regulations state that service panels require a working clearance that’s 30 inches wide, three feet deep, and 80 inches tall. Think of it this way: leave roughly enough space for a refrigerator around your panel at all times, and do not use this space as storage area.
Got an electrical problem? Call the experts at All Pro Plumbing, Heating, Cooling & Electrical at (909) 253-0664 to request an appointment today!