Electrical Code Violations
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Dear Mr. Electrician: The home inspector said my house has a lot of electrical code violations. How can I identify the problems and make code compliant electrical repairs myself? Answer: You can't. Experience and knowledge are very important when doing electrical repairs around the house, as is knowledge of building codes. It is also important to identify and implement safe work practices even if you are working alone. NOTE: Some text links below go to applicable products on Amazon and EBay. Repairs can sometimes be more challenging than installing things new. You have to work within existing spaces and finished walls and be a lot neater doing the work. Do a lot of research. Read books, watch videos from reputable producers such as This Old House. Each building code violation will require a distinct code based solution. Talk to a few electrical contractors. Ask a lot of questions. You may be able to get an idea of what corrections need to be done and maybe how. Sometimes other trade skills are needed in the course of doing electrical work. The electrical trade learning curve is very great with a combination of classroom training and several years of working under experienced people. In addition an investment in specialty tools is required. EXAMPLES OF BAD ELECTRICAL WIRING PRACTICES I have made many repairs to DIY wiring and have observed many code violations and poor installation methods. Below is a partial list of common electrical wiring mistakes I have encountered. The wife called me after her husband tried to install a ceiling fan. Above is what I found when I arrived. I think this was the first time I had ever seen an electrical box installed upside down in the ceiling. The homeowner removed the existing builder-installed plastic electrical box, but instead of buying an old work fan brace and box which would have fit through the existing hole, he did this. The ceiling fan support bracket was attached to the back side of the electrical box. See my posts about ceiling fans for more helpful information. In the photo above I found this wall switch was improperly grounded by just having the grounding conductor looped around the ear of the device. This was an old switch that did not have a green ground screw on it. I replaced it with a switch that did have a ground screw. See my post about working at home safely. Not reading or consulting the newest edition of the "National Electrical Code" (NFPA 70). It is imperative that electrical wiring be installed in a safe manner. The NEC is published and updated every three years to stay on top of the ever changing needs of the consumer and industry while providing the latest rules and guidelines for safe electrical installations. Please be advised that in addition to the "National Electrical Code" some towns, cities and states have their own electrical codes that must be followed. It is a good idea to contact your local building department to see what codes are in effect. In many cases other codes may be...