Common Electric Code Violations You Should Be Aware Of


Electricity is readily available to most of us but is equally dangerous. Taking the necessary precautions is integral so you may ensure the safety of yourself and your family. For this you need to keep check of your electrical system, particularly if you believe your electrical system is fairly outdated.

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Below we discuss some of the most common electric code violations that you must avoid, and in case you do identify a code violation in your electrical system, have an experienced electrician help you out in resolving it.

         Doing Electrical Work For Your Friends/Family

In North America, you may be allowed to do your own electrical work, small fixations here and there. As long as the work is properly monitored and inspected for errors, it’s fine if you do your own electrical work.

It becomes problematic when you start doing the electrical work for your family and friends, which, in case you didn’t know, is a code violation in a number of places. For someone else’s systems, it’s better to hire an experienced and licensed electrician.

         Using The Wrong Circuit Breaker

Circuit breakers essentially help protect electric circuits from damage caused by large surges of current, they’re used for equipment such as air conditioners, stoves, etc. If your home experiences an electric overload, a properly functioning circuit breaker will protect your wiring and appliances. However, you need to make sure you use the right circuit breaker according to the requirement. There are three basic types, each has its own use: standard circuit breakers, ground fault circuit interrupters, and arc fault circuit interrupters.

  • Standard circuit breakers are used for protecting larger appliances, wiring, and equipment, on the other hand, they have been widely replaced by GFCIs (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters) and AFCIs (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters) when it comes to preventing fires and protecting people.

  • Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are used to protect people while using appliances in areas with water or humidity such as bathrooms, kitchen, outdoor areas, etc. Some even make it mandatory to have them installed in garaged, basements and wet bars, etc. You need to also make sure the GFCIs are properly installed. Make them readily accessible in case you need to reset them.

  • Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) are best used for preventing fires and detecting electric arcs. They are used in all living areas and should so according to code. A standard circuit breaker will not detect arcing until after a fire starts and so AFCI is more preferable.

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         Not Using Neutral Wires

All switches tend to always have electricity flowing between them, and so they must include neutral wires. This wire is typically grounded and is generally not required for the operation of the equipment but for safety reasons. If you’re installing a new switch specifically, don’t skip adding a neutral wire no matter how unnecessary it seems. As we mentioned before, switches require a constant flow of electricity.

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         Not Using Tamper-Resistant Receptacles 

Tamper-resistant receptacles are especially important if you have kids at home. They are designed to make sure kids don’t insert objects such as paper clips into electric outlets or hurt themselves while fidgeting with an outlet.

They’re used outdoors and inside and are a requirement in households.  The receptacles basically have two spring-loaded shutters which will not offer access to the contacts unless a plug is inserted. When the plug is removed, so do the shutters close blocking access once again.

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         Using Outdated Metal Rods As Grounding Electrode

While traditionally metal underground water piping was used as a grounding electrode, it has become outdated and unconventional as a better system has been identified. These days, plumbing is mainly plastic so that system is out of the question. Rebar used in concrete footings or the foundation of a house forms a more effective grounding system. It’s best to do this before the housing project is complete and the concrete sets in.

         Installing Wrong Outdoor Receptacles

Installing the wrong outdoor receptacle or the wrong cover on an outdoor receptacle is also a code violation. While flat covers are used, they only offer protection for as long as the receptacle isn’t in use.

But if extension cords are used for extended periods of time then it can be hazardous. In these cases, you should use a bubble cover instead. In case you think the receptacle has a chance of getting wet due to location then use an in-use cover.

There are also weather-resistant receptacles, when installed with weather-protection covers, they can offer durable protection from rain, moisture, snow, humidity, etc.

         Crowding a Service Panel

Your service panel should be easily accessible and so the last thing you want to do is crowd your service panel. As a basic rule, your service panel should have a 30-inch wide clearance; it should be 3 feet deep and around 6-8 inches in height. Keep in mind that maintenance requires space and accessibility. No matter how tempting it may be to add more wires, do not crowd your service panel.

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         Not Installing Enough Receptacles

You should try to use as few extension cords as possible, they are, after all, one of the key culprits behind fires and tripping hazards. The fewer, the better. Instead, you should install as many receptacles as possible. It should be so that any six-foot appliance cord can reach the receptacle easily.

         Electrical Bonding

Electrical Bonding is used to reduce the risk of electric shocks to people who may come in contact with metal parts in a system. Here, all exposed metal items are intentionally connected to carry electricity in a room. In case there is a fault in electrical installation, all metal objects in the room will have the same electrical potential and so it equalizes the voltage potential between two conductive systems.

This reduces the risk of electrical shock to an occupant of the room. Therefore, plumbing, phone lines, cables, and gas piping must be grounded and electrically bonded to one another.

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         Installing New Lights Using Old Wiring

Old wiring can be outdated and might not be able to handle modern fixtures. This is why it is risky to install new lights with old wiring systems in place. They can cause fire hazards as they are more prone to heat damage as compared to modern wiring systems.

Therefore, if you have outdated wiring systems in your household, you should get it replaced by an experienced electrician as soon as possible and then proceed with installing lights.

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