Renovating your home? Be sure it is up to code.

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With many of us staying in rather than going out, homeowners are looking to renovate their space into a comfortable getaway. Don’t overlook the electrical wiring in your home. Each year, electrical malfunctions account for 35,000 home fires causing over 1,130 injuries, 500 deaths and $1.4 billion in property damage.

The average American home was built in 1977. Many existing homes simply can’t handle the demands of today’s electrical appliances and devices. The list below outlines some common warning signs:

  • Frequent tripping of circuit breakers or blowing of fuses
  • Dimming of lights when other devices are turned on
  • Buzzing sound from switches or outlets
  • Discolored outlets
  • Appliances that seem underpowered

The National Electrical Code is revised every three years and outlines the minimum requirements for safe electrical installation. If you’re renovating your home, make sure to have the following electrical safety devices installed to maintain an electrically safe home.

Safety Devices

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI)

Available as circuit breakers and receptacle. AFCIs protect against electrical fires from wiring malfunctions. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that 50% of home electrical fires can be prevented by proper AFCI protection.

Surge Protective Devices (SPD)

Surge Protective Devices protect against surges that can damage or reduce the lifespan of your electrical system and devices.

Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)

Available as a circuit breaker and receptacle. GFCIs protect against electric shock and are required in areas where water and electricity may come in contact.

Tamper Resistant Receptacles (TRR)

Tamper Resistant Receptacles function like normal receptacles but they include an internal shutter system to prevent foreign objects from being inserted into the outlets.

2020 National Electrical Code Highlights

  • All receptacles in homes, garages, accessory buildings, and common areas of multifamily homes must be protected by TRRs.
  • New and replaced service equipment are now required to be protected by listed Type 1 or Type 2 Surge Protective Devices.
  • Outdoor emergency disconnects are required for new construction and homes having their service replaced.

2020 Code Requirements

Renovating the following areas in your home? The following protection is required in these areas as of the 2020 National Electrical Code:

GFCI protection
Basements & Crawl Spaces
AFCI protection (finished basements)

GFCI protection (crawl spaces at or below grade)

AFCI protection
Common Rooms (family, dining, parlor, dens, recreation & similar rooms)
AFCI protection
GFCI protection
Halways & Closets
AFCI protection
AFCI protection

GFCI protection

(Where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces or where receptacles are installed within 6 feet of a sink)

Laundry Areas
AFCI protection

GFCI protection

GFCI protection

Article provided by Electrical Safety Foundation International

September 2020

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