Most of us don’t really pay attention to our home’s electrical system until something goes wrong. New buyers, sellers, as well as homeowners who’ve been living at their house for a couple of years, don’t exactly examine the electrical system unless they know something isn’t working right.
What this means, however, is that there’s a probability that your home isn’t up to the electrical code.
This is less likely in recently constructed homes, where the electrical systems are upgraded as per the revised guidelines mentioned in the National Electrical Code (NEC). For older homes, the possibility of outdated wiring and systems is greater as technology has evolved over the years and the NEC has evolved with it.
What Is the NEC?
The National Electrical Code (NEC) is a set of guidelines and standards set for the safe installation of electric systems across the United States. Although it was first published in 1897, it has since undergone several changes and alterations. Issued by the NFPA, the NEC is updated every three years to keep up with changing technology and safety measures.
The NEC serves to prevent electrical fires, short circuits, and other electrical accidents. You don’t need to have a copy of the code with you, but it’s always better to have your electrician or contractor go over the electrical system at your residence and determine if everything’s as per the latest requirements.
So, is how can you check if your house is updated with the National Electric Code?
Common Code Requirements
While local code requirements may vary, here are a few general requirements you should know about for your electrical system.
Nonmetallic (NM) cables are recommended for installation. These may need to be upgraded to armored cables in case they’re exposed instead of being shielded by plaster or drywall.
You may use a metallic box, but plastic ones are more common and recommended. These should be large enough so that the wiring isn’t cramped, and must be framed firmly.
Your electrical system should have heat-resistant and water-resistant wiring. Ideally, 14-gauge wires should be used for 15-amp circuits and 12-gauge wires should be used for 20-amp circuits. Copper wiring must be replaced as this can be flammable.
Wires shouldn’t be overcrowded into small spaces or holes as this can damage the insulation. This, in turn, may expose the wires and increase the risk of an electrical fire. Wires shouldn’t be illegally spliced either. This is especially common when new light fixtures or outlets are being added.
Revised NEC guidelines also include the requirements for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets. These outlets are designed to prevent electrocution by shutting off the power from the source if there’s a disruption in the normal flow of electrical current.
As per the NEC, GFCI outlets should be placed in the bathrooms, kitchen, and outdoors. All outlets must have at least three buttons to test and reset the electrical device being used. GFCI outlets should also be placed near other sources of water.
Your old service panel should suffice as long as you don’t need to add a new circuit. If you are, however, adding circuits, then you need to either add a subpanel or upgrade your existing one.
At Lakeview Electric LLC., we offer residential and commercial electrician services to resolve all your electrical problems. Based in Carson City, Nevada, our services extend to Reno, Sparks, Minden, Fernley, and surrounding areas.
Book a free inspection with our residential electricians to upgrade your electrical system.