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Electrical Code Compliance

electrical code compliance
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Electrical codes
The electrical system that provides your home with all the power you need is rather complex. For this reason, there are national and local codes that need to be complied with if you are thinking of rewiring your home. The National Electrical Code (NEC) is a large volume that applies throughout the United States and sets out the electrical requirements for both residential and commercial wiring. Local building departments frequently modify the NEC and you will need to ensure that these local requirements are also complied with. For example, in the state of Florida, the Florida Building Code 5th Edition (2014) Residential applies to residential buildings. If your existing wiring does not comply with these codes, the building department will generally not require you to change it. The codes only apply to any new work that needs to be done. However, should you feel that any of the current wiring in your home is unsafe, it would be wise to bring such electrical systems up to standard.

Loading and grounding circuits
There are two main things to consider before running a new electrical cable for service. First, you need to ensure that the new service will not overload a circuit. Secondly, you need to ensure that all receptacles and appliances are safely grounded. In addition, local codes typically require that switch and light fixtures also be grounded. This serves as protection against shock and can be checked by using a receptacle analyzer. Local codes typically require that all receptacles and appliances be attached to a ground wire (or metal sheathing) that runs to the service panel. Additionally, a thick ground wire should emerge from the service panel and clamp tightly to a cold-water pipe or grounding rods driven into the ground outside the house.

Common code requirements
Below are some of the general requirements for home electrical systems. However, be sure to check with your local building department whether these have been modified for your area.

  • Boxes: although electrical boxes are commonly plastic, some localities do require metal boxes
  • Cable: nonmetallic cable is accepted by most building departments and is the easiest to run
  • Circuits: all lights must be on 15-amp circuits, however 20-amp circuits may be required in kitchen and utility areas
  • Receptacles, fixtures and appliances: new receptacles and appliances must be grounded; fixtures and appliances should be approved by Underwriters Laboratories
  • Wire size: 14-gauge wires are generally used for 15-amp circuits while 12-gauge wires are used for 20-amp circuits; however, if the cable exceeds 500 feet then you may require a larger wire
  • Service panels: if you do not need to add a new circuit, then your service panel is probably sufficient; however, if you are adding circuits then you may need to upgrade the panel or add a subpanel

While these codes generally apply to the whole house, there are also many other codes which are room-specific.

Ensuring compliance
Reading through these codes can be quite a nightmare as they are extremely long and very technical. Art Plumbing, Air Conditioning & Electrical can make this process significantly easier by doing all the investigating for you and ensuring that your home’s electrical system is both safe and up to current codes.


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