In order to ensure that our homes are as safe as possible, electrical codes exist to reduce the chances of injury or a potentially devastating fire. When weaknesses in electrical systems are discovered, fixes are implemented and those fixes then become mandatory through electrical codes. However, because electrical codes are so widely varied and complex and they’re constantly improving and changing, it’s nearly impossible to keep your entire home perfectly up to code for very long.
At Valley Heating, Cooling Electrical and Solar, we see a lot of different code violations and some are certainly more common than others. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at just a few of the common code violations we see at many of the homes we visit and explain how to properly fix them so you can make sure your home is compliant with modern safety and equipment standards.
All Outlets Near Water Must Be On a GFCI Circuit
This is a fairly common code violation for homes that are roughly 20 years old or older and which haven’t had any sort of major electrical work done in their lifetime. A ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI for short, is an electrical safety device that shuts off power to a particular outlet or circuit when it detects too much current flowing through the outlet. Too much voltage and current flowing through an outlet at any given time could be dangerous and the 120 volts of AC power that are found in our wall sockets are enough power to cause serious injuries, even at very low current levels.
One way to create too much current is through a short circuit, which can easily happen to outlets near water sources. Thus, the law now requires that any outlet used near water is required to either have a GFCI installed or be on a circuit which can be interrupted by a GFCI. This is normally pretty easy to do and retrofitting these outlets usually only takes a few minutes each. Plus, it’s good for your safety, so it’s something you absolutely should do if you live in a home that’s 20 or more years old .
Not Having Tamper-Resistant Receptacles
A tamper-resistant receptacle could save your life, or the life of a small child. These devices are designed to close and block off the electrical leads so you or a small child can’t accidentally stick something in them and electrocute themselves. Believe it or not, these are now required in all locations, both indoors and out, via national electrical codes, and for good reason: the fact that a curious child can’t accidentally stick something like a paperclip into an outlet and unknowingly shock themselves.
Of course, many people don’t want to replace all of the outlets in their home simultaneously. If you have any young children in your home, and you don’t want to have your entire home retrofitted all at once, you should at start with the outlets that are down low or easiest for a young child to reach.
Overlamping is the term for when a light fixture has a bulb that’s rated for a higher wattage than the fixture in which it is installed. Fixtures are designated with a maximum wattage because the electrical equipment inside, including the wires and connections, are all designed to handle a maximum amount of current. When you put in a lightbulb that draws more than this maximum current, the wires could overheat, the shielding could strip off, and the entire light fixture could quickly become a fire hazard. This isn’t so much of a problem now due to modern LED lightbulbs that draw only a small fraction of the energy of a traditional incandescent bulb. However, if older bulbs are being utilized, overlamping can definitely be a problem.
Have a built-in fixture that’s rated for a bulb that’s too dim for your taste? You can quickly and easily solve the problem by getting an LED lightbulb that’s a higher wattage-equivalent to the one you have. Their low actual-draw makes this perfectly okay (and saves you a ton on your energy bills). In fact, this solution can solve the problem of just about any light fixture being too dim.
Need an electrical repair? Trust the experts from Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar! Call us at (408) 868-5500 today to schedule your repair.