Between lights, charging electronics, and running modern appliances, electricity provides us with the ability to smoothly run our everyday lives. It can also, however, lead to issues like fires and electrocution. For this reason, it is important to know if your home electrical wiring is up to code.
Many homeowners only tackle the question of code when they purchase a home or are considering an upgrade or renovation. These codes are in place to keep you and your family safe. Among circuit breakers, tamper-resistant receptacles, and outlet placement, what do you need to know when it comes to electrical wiring requirements? Some codes are specific to certain rooms and their use; others are required throughout your home. Let’s start with the main rooms where upgrades are likely, and discuss the major codes you need to know about.
- Basement: Whether you have an unfinished basement or are looking to add a laundry room or bathroom there, this is a room that leads to a lot of questions about codes. It’s most important to make sure all outlets there are protected by ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). In addition, make sure you have working detectors for smoke and carbon monoxide in the event of a fire or other event.
- Kitchen: A large percentage of homeowners want to update the kitchen in their house. It is, after all, the heart of the home. So make sure you keep your family safe with wiring that is up to code. Here, you still want all outlets to be protected by GFCIs, but you also want to make sure there is proper space between each outlet – allow no more than 1.25 metres between countertop receptacles. To ensure that all the lights do not accidentally turn off due to the GFCIs, you need to also have at least one permanent light inside the room. Here as well as throughout the house, you need to use tamper-resistant receptacles. These are priceless and are used to keep children safe by preventing them from trying to insert a paperclip, for example. These receptacles need to be used inside and outside the home, so take this step for the safety of your children as well as ensuring your house is up to code.
- Bathroom: GFCI outlets are a must here as well. They turn off whenever they sense a change in electrical current. Switches need to be grounded because bathrooms get wet. This could save your life! Consider the possibility of being electrocuted in a room that provides multiple access points to water, as well as the need to run a hair dryer, electric razor, and other electrical appliances.
Throughout the home, make sure you use GFCIs and tamper-resistant receptacles. When you consider the changes you need to make to the wiring in your home, remember that need is based on safety. After making these changes, you can be secure in the fact you have taken steps to create a safer home for yourself and your family.
Unsure of where to begin? Have a licensed electrician walk through the house to help you identify the key code violations you currently have and to develop a plan to bring your wiring up to code.