8 Most Common Electrical Code Violations

8 Most Common Electrical Code Violations

  • Electrical
  • Uncategorized
electrical code

Many confident homeowners take the DIY electrical plunge thinking it can’t be that difficult to install wiring into outlets and breaker boxes with little concern for the local electrical code. Although they may accomplish their goal of powering their home, that great feeling of “I did it all by myself!” is often short-lived and wrought with consequences, such as unsafe wiring, reduce property resale value and failure to pass regional and local electrical safety inspections.

What is the National Electrical Code?

A subgroup of national fire codes, the NEC is a book of electrical installation and renovation safety standards established by the National Fire Protection Agency. While not mandated by regional laws in the U.S., the NEC has been adopted by over 98 percent of all U.S. areas. Every three years the NFPA publishes a large volume of electrical safety codes covering both indoor and outdoor electrical practices and standards that serves as a reference guide for professional electricians. Topics discussed in the NEC include conductors, wiring, cables and voltages.

8 Common Electrical Code Violations Every Homeowner Should Know

1. Installing the wrong circuit breaker or failing to install circuit breakers

Circuit breaker boxes contain switches that “trip”, or turn themselves off to stop the flow of electricity in specific parts of a home if the electrical current in that particular area exceeds preset limits. When a switch is tripped, the circuit breaker needs to be manually reset to return the current to its preset level. Some circuit breakers will automatically reset without human intervention.  Neglecting to install the right circuit breaker (or none at all) is not only an electrical code violation but will also put your and your family at high risk for a fire raging in the wall on which the circuit breaker box is attached.

2. Switch locations do not have neutral wires

Most automated light switches require a neutral wire. Switches that don’t need a neutral wire will give you incandescent lighting only. If your home uses fluorescent, LED and other light devices under 20w, you must use a neutral wire or be in violation of electrical codes. The purpose of a neutral wire involves completion of the 120-volt AC circuit, which it accomplishes by providing a safe avenue back to an electrical panel. Here, the insulated neutral wire connects and bonds to the ground to prevent accidental electrocution.

3. Neglecting to install tamper resistant receptacles

The 2014 edition of the NEC requires all new or renovated homes/dwellings install tamper resistant receptacles with spring-loaded coverings (shutters) that protect contact slots in the receptacles. When you insert a plug into one of these TR receptacles, you compress both springs so that shutters open to allow insertion of a plug’s metal prongs. Since two springs need to be compressed simultaneously, a child inserting something into just one opening won’t cause electricity to flow into the receptacle.  Even if you do not have children, your new or renovated dwelling must have tamper resistant receptacles.

4. Not installing enough receptacles

The National Fire Protection Association estimates nearly 50,000 dwelling fire in the U.S. happen every year due to overloading an electrical system not equipped with enough receptacles. To compensate for lack of outlets, homeowners are quick to rely on extension cords not designed to handle large amounts of electricity. Signs of overloaded circuits that could cause fires include dimming/flickering lights, frequently tripped breakers and getting a slight shock when you plug in an appliance.

5. Leaving outdoor receptacles uncovered

Although this seems like a no-brainer, many building owners don’t think of the dangers involved with leaving an electrical receptacle exposed to the elements. If your dwelling has outdoor receptacles that aren’t shuttered, you are in violation of an electrical code that could delay the sale of your home or even reduce the value of your home.

6.  Failing to install ground fault circuit interrupters

Ground faults occur when electricity escapes wiring and takes a direct shortcut to the floor. When ground faults pass through a person, the result could be a deadly electrocution. This is why the National Electric Code requires GFCIs in outdoor receptacles and in new or renovated bathrooms, kitchens, unfinished basements and crawl spaces.

7. Outdated wiring in homes over 50 years old

Electrical wiring in dwellings constructed before 1970 may be in violation of local or regional electrical codes. Aluminum wiring widely used in the 70s may be safe but could present safety issues if connected to copper wiring. Older homes with aluminum wiring will probably need an inspector to confirm it has been properly installed, a complicated procedure best left to professionals.

8. Improperly configuring panels

DIYers aggravated by a constantly tripping fuse or breaker often may hastily replace the offending breaker with a larger capacity breaker. In addition to being extremely dangerous, it is also illegal to have wrongly configured panels and is in direct violation of electrical codes. A breaker is matched to load capacity and wire size. Larger breakers allow more and more current to flow through before they trip, catch on fire or blow out your home’s electricity system.

Adhering to electrical codes means living safely in your home, having appliances and fixtures that operate smoothly, saving on troubleshooting electrical problems, reducing your energy costs and maintaining a higher property resale value on your home.

Please check with lender for up-to-date terms, conditions and eligibility requirements. Information on this page is subject to change. Ryan Gath Electric is not responsible for the terms and conditions of third party lenders, or the accuracy of this page.

By Ryan Gath Electric

10 Things to Consider Before Home Rewiring

10 Things to Consider Before Home Rewiring

  • Electrical
  • Uncategorized
home rewiring

New houses are generally outfitted to accommodate the use of all our modern technologies, appliances and conveniences and as such don’t need a home rewiring. Many homes have large tech-savvy televisions, microwave ovens, computers and devices throughout. Today’s electrical construction accounts for them. But many older structures were built with the electrical needs of those times in mind and that may put you on the outside looking in when it comes to enjoying technology. Older construction may also be below current safety codes and you can’t put a price on peace of mind when it comes to the safety of your family. If you’re considering bringing your electricity up to speed, here are 10 things to consider.

1. Do You Need New Wiring?

Older homes often have outdated electrical wiring in terms of safety and the ability to adequately provide the necessary current of modern electronics. Some simply are not in compliance with basic electrical codes either. Here is a short list of things that would lend strong consideration to a complete electrical overhaul:

  • Knob and Tube: This type of wiring can be found in homes built before 1940. If untouched, these systems may be running okay in small residential homes. However, you run a greater risk of fire by keeping K&T because the systems may not be grounded and are designed to let heat resonate outward toward potentially combustible materials.
  • Aluminum Wiring: About two million U.S. homes have aluminum electrical wiring and many experts view this as a significant hazard. Aluminum wiring requires a specialized level of safety installation at each outlet, switch and junction box. Without this, or if it has been damaged or tampered with over the years, aluminum wiring could just be a fire waiting to happen. Get rid of it.
  • Scorch Marks: Outlets and light switches should remain cool. If you see charred areas or if they feel hot, you have a serious electrical problem. It may be limited to a particular switch or the entire system may be faulty. Either way, get it looked at by a licensed professional ASAP.
  • Circuit Breakers: When circuit breakers become overloaded, they shut off as a safety mechanism. If yours are tripping regularly, there is an issue that needs to be addressed by an electrician.
  • Other Warning Signs: If you find that your lights dim, electrical connections are loose, or you see frayed wires, sparks, or have been shocked, these are all signs that you have a problem. Have your system looked at by a licensed electrician. 

2. Reasons To Want a Home Rewiring

Electrical systems installed in homes that were built during the 1980s or earlier have difficulty keeping up with the demands our modern electronics place on them. Some still have 60 amp limits in contrast to 100-200 amps of new homes. Think about the technological progress for a minute. In the ’80s, homes had smaller televisions, limited video games, virtually no computers, few devices to recharge and only 25 percent of homes had a microwave oven. And, we’re not even thinking about the future of the electric car. You probably find yourself using surge protectors with multiple plugs-ins when you really need more outlets in your home. The bottom line is that enjoying modern conveniences means more convenient electricity stations.

3. How To Choose An Electrician

It’s a very bad idea to try to rewire your own home. Unless you happen to be an electrician, you may put you and your family in harm’s way. If something goes wrong or there’s a fire, your insurance may not cover the loss. Hire a professional. Selecting the right electrician for you is a bit of a process. It’s important that homeowners treat this as a business deal and not a personal arrangement. It’s advisable to take the follow steps and do your due diligence:

  • Create a detailed scope of work document
  • Field multiple, free, no obligation quotes
  • Check with your State to ensure the electrician is licensed
  • Read their business reviews online
  • Check Better Business Bureau ratings
  • Check into litigation history. Have they been sued or filed bankruptcy?
  • Ask questions about start to finish time
  • Avoid the use of subcontractors.

Sign a contract that includes the cost, payment installments, scope of work in detail, labor hours, job time frame, and a method to agree upon potential overages

4. Should I Get An Electrical Permit?

The simple answer is: Yes. It’s in your best interest to have the electrician pull a permit under his or her license. Most states require permits to alter or install new wiring although a drawn electrical plan may not be required on an existing residential home. For you, as a homeowner, a permit means that your home will be inspected and that ensures electrical codes are met and the property is safe for you and your family to occupy.

5. Should Electrical Contractor Be Bonded?

Again, the simple answer is: Yes. A contract or construction bond as they are referred to ensures that everything in your contract is fulfilled by the electrical contractor. For the purposes of having your home rewired, there are two types that are of particular importance to you.

  • Payment Bond: If your contractor does subcontract work to others and does not pay them properly or goes bankrupt, these unpaid or underpaid parties could put a lien on your property. With a bond in place, industry people can recoup losses without dragging you into a legal quagmire.
  • Performance Bond: These are generally tied to the agreement you reach and protect you from shoddy work, failure to meet job specifications, and provide money to complete the project if the contractor doesn’t. Basically, a performance bond is your contingency plan.

6. What Will It Cost?

Rewiring an average home can entail about 40 hours of work and electricians generally charge between $40 and $100 per hour, depending on their certification and experience. Standard materials that meet current codes average approximately $1,500, although costs vary from region to region. Expect the average-sized home to cost somewhere between $4,000 and $5,500 for basic work only. Items that can increase this cost include fixtures, luxury items, difficulty of installation and an additional big ticket item can be the need to upgrade to a 100-200 amp electrical panel. It’s a good idea to have the contractor provide line item costs in your agreement. Also, budget for potential cost overruns. Once walls are opened up, you never know what problems you’ll find.

7. How Invasive Is Home Rewiring?

The simple answer is: Very. Keep in mind that most wires are not easily accessible. They are inside the walls or under floors. There will likely be areas where the electrician will need to do demolition and these will require repair, plastering and paint later. The good news is that because you have a detailed contract that identifies the work areas, you’ll have a good idea what to expect during the process.

8. How Long Will You Be Without Power?

Once you start the project, it’s likely that you will be without power for a period of time. Generally, rewiring a home takes anywhere from 3 to 10 days. More complicated jobs can take longer. It’s important that you outline the start and finish times in your signed agreement. Plenty of contractors are juggling multiple jobs at the same time. A driving factor for some contractors is where the next pay installment is coming. The may shift their resources for financial reasons and balance getting a next check with your patience.

9. How To Manage Life Under Construction?

It’s a good idea to not be around while workers are dismantling your home. Seeing holes being knocked into walls can be very stressful, even though it will all be put back together in the end. Beyond that, there will likely be time without or with limited power. Hot water may not be available, stoves may not work among other inconveniences. Here are a few tips on managing the process.

  • Unplug all electronics before work begins
  • Have construction end at a certain time daily and retake your home after that
  • Have a gym or YMCA membership in place in order to shower
  • Wash all your laundry before the start date
  • Stay at a hotel for a few key days and make a mini vacation out of it
  • Be sure you emptied all the frozen and perishable goods from refrigerators
  • Prepare for well pumps to lose prime
  • Plan to grill meals outdoors or get lots of take-out

10. What are the benefits?

By rewiring your home, several personal and financial goals can be achieved that may include:

  • Ability to upgrade electronics and appliances
  • Convenience and efficiency
  • Lower insurance rates
  • Increased property value
  • Tax deductions
  • Safety and peace of mind

To say that electrical wiring ages like fine wine wouldn’t be correct, unless you mean it turns into vinegar. Time, changing needs and technological advancements will mean updating a home’s electricity at some point. Maybe electrical wiring is more like a trendy craft beer. It’s great for a while, until something better comes along or it just gets old. That’s when you need home rewiring.

Please check with lender for up-to-date terms, conditions and eligibility requirements. Information on this page is subject to change. Ryan Gath Electric is not responsible for the terms and conditions of third party lenders, or the accuracy of this page.

By Ryan Gath Electric

Dangers of Space Heaters: How to stay Safe and Warm in Danvers

Dangers of Space Heaters: How to stay Safe and Warm in Danvers

  • Electrical
  • Uncategorized
space heaters in danvers

As the months grow colder and the days grow shorter, we’re going to be needing a way to keep ourselves warm. Space heaters have enjoyed a boom in popularity in recent years and it’s not hard to see why. They’re small, easily moveable, fairly cheap to operate, and do a good enough job of spot-heating a given room. That said, space heaters can prove extremely dangerous if you’re not careful with their implementation. Here’s how to stay warm and safe with space heaters in your Danvers home. 

Limit Usage 

While this may seem counterintuitive to keeping your space as warm as possible, overuse of heaters can prove disastrous. When left on and unattended for long periods, space heaters are more likely to start a fire than any other home appliance. The heat generated by the device can warm up surrounding items to the point of combustion. By limiting usage, you can keep eyes on the device at all times when operating and ensure that nothing goes awry.

Plug the Heater into the Wall On its Own

A space heater should only ever be plugged into a wall outlet that isn’t shared by another device. The reason being that these devices take up a lot of power, and should not be encumbered by other devices or plugged into extension cords or the like. Always plug space heaters into the wall of your Danvers home, or face an electrical nightmare. 

Regularly Check the Heater and Wire for Heat

Obviously, there should be some heat coming from the heater when plugged in and on. But you should be checking exactly how hot it is every so often. This is especially true of the plug and the outlet. If either of these is hot in the slightest, discontinue use of the heater immediately. These are surefire signs of an impending electrical fire.

Store Space Heaters Responsibly

Once you’ve determined which room you want to place your heater in, you need to make sure that you put it in a safe, but effective location. Placing the heater on a self, cupboard, near a water source, or near heavily-trafficked areas of the room. Heaters represent a sizable fire hazard when they are in contact with flammable surfaces like wood countertops and curtains, and it goes without saying that water and electrical appliances never mix. 

Please check with lender for up-to-date terms, conditions and eligibility requirements. Information on this page is subject to change. Ryan Gath Electric is not responsible for the terms and conditions of third party lenders, or the accuracy of this page. Chelmsford ductless heating 

By Ryan Gath Electric

5 Signs That Your Chelmsford Ductless Heating System Needs a Fix

5 Signs That Your Chelmsford Ductless Heating System Needs a Fix

  • Uncategorized
Chelmsford ductless heating

The winter season is almost here, which means we’re all thinking about the same thing… our ductless heating systems. Well, maybe you’re thinking about holiday treats, family time, and gift-giving, but don’t forget that this is the best time to prep your heating too. Your heating appliances are used the most during the holidays so it’s crucial to tune up and repair any damages. Ductless heating systems can be a popular choice for homeowners because of their energy efficiency and low maintenance, but they can still be prone to damages. Nothing makes for a miserable winter than a busted heater, which is why it’s crucial to check for potential damages.

When You Need to Repair Your Chelmsford Ductless Heating System

Just like any major appliance, your ductless heating system is prone to a variety of problems. The average lifespan of a ductless heating system is usually up to 20 years with proper maintenance. Over time, your heater breaks down from use and damages. You may also be dealing with more problems if your Chelmsford ductless heating system is nearing the end of its lifespan. It’s best to catch and repair the problems early, as that ensures your heater will work effectively this winter. To stay warm this winter, here are a few problems to watch out for.

  • Leaking fluids. Your ductless heating should never leak any fluids, but if it is, your heater could be leaking refrigerant. In order to transfer heat throughout your home, your ductless heating system is equipped with refrigerant. Refrigerant is toxic for your health and a heater empty of refrigerant is nothing more than a fan. If your ductless heating system is leaking fluids, it’s time for a repair.
  • Ice buildup. Whether it’s in the middle of the summer or in the dead of winter, your ductless system can experience problems. If something is wrong with the air conditioning portion of your ductless system, it will affect your heating. Ice buildup on a ductless system might seem harmless when you’re using the air conditioning, but it’s usually a sign that there’s something wrong with the evaporator coil. A dirty coil prevents your ductless system from functioning properly.
  • Lack of efficiency. Starting from day one, your ductless heating system’s efficiency gradually starts to decline. If you start to notice that you’re ductless heating system is cycling more often to keep up with your heating demands, it could be time for a repair.
  • Higher utility bills. As your ductless heating system ages, it wears down and loses its efficiency. A ductless heater usually lasts for 20 years with the proper care, but it’s full of components that can break apart from use and needs repair. The older the heater, the longer it runs to keep your house warm which results in higher utility bills.
  • Unusual sounds. If you start hearing loud or unusual sounds coming out of your ductless heating system, it could be time for a repair. Inside are several different moving parts, and if damaged, they’ll make noises. Squealing indicates that there could be a problem with the fan motor belt. A hissing sound could mean a refrigerant leak.

Please check with lender for up-to-date terms, conditions and eligibility requirements. Information on this page is subject to change. Ryan Gath Electric is not responsible for the terms and conditions of third party lenders, or the accuracy of this page. Chelmsford ductless heating 

By Ryan Gath Electric

Winter Electrical Checklist: Everything You Need to Know for Greenland Winter Prep

Winter Electrical Checklist: Everything You Need to Know for Greenland Winter Prep

  • Electrical
greenland winter prep

It’s that time of the year again: the temperature’s dropping, the days are getting shorter, and snow is on the horizon. Winter remains the most challenging season to be a homeowner, but there are definitely steps you can take to ensure that your home’s electrical system doesn’t just survive the season, but thrive throughout it. Here’s everything you need to know for proper Greenland winter electrical prep.

Beware of Space Heaters

Space heaters are a handy device that allow you to easily heat individual spaces in your home without the need for a permanently installed heating fixture. While these products are handy in a pinch, you need to handle them with the utmost caution. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates that more than 25,000 residential fires and more than 300 deaths are caused each year by space heaters. In the interest of safety, space heaters should not be left unattended when switched on., and should never be placed near or on top of any flammable surfaces such as furniture, clothes, drapes, and the like.

Make Sure Your Carbon Monoxide Detectors Are Up to Date

Carbon monoxide related deaths are more common during the winter, due in large part to people staying indoors more often and burning CO producing fuels like wood, oil, and coal. Take a few minutes out to make sure your detectors are in working order, and if you don’t have detectors, getting some should be a top priority. 

Wire Your Holiday Light Displays Properly

On a more cheerful note, the start of winter means the holidays are here! A lot of folks in the Greenland area celebrate with some dazzling light displays. While we all love a good light show at Ryan Gath its best to set your lights up responsibly. Stick to the recommended wattage of a given fixture and don’t overload wall outlets. While a lot of homes require extension cords to make their displays work properly, we recommend you limit their use to a temporary basis to avoid overloads. 

Consider A Backup Generator

The scouts out there will agree: it never hurts to be prepared. That’s the philosophy behind generator ownership. Losing power is never ideal, but in the winter, it can be downright dangerous to yourself and your home. Things like frozen pipes, and fires started by candles are just a few of the possible threats posed by a winter power-outage, to say nothing of the misery caused by a lack of heat. A generator is one appliance you can leverage to ensure those situations never come true in your home. 

Call Up a Pro for More Intensive Electrical Work

We’re always going to support the DIY spirit, but in instances of your electrical system, it’s best to leave it to the professionals. Improper handling of a wire or outlet can result in serious injury. Give the pros at Ryan Gath Electric a call when things go south in the winter.

Please check with lender for up-to-date terms, conditions and eligibility requirements. Information on this page is subject to change. Ryan Gath Electric is not responsible for the terms and conditions of third party lenders, or the accuracy of this page. Greenland Winter Prep.

By Ryan Gath Electric