Whether you’re a contractor or somebody looking to complete a quick D.I.Y project, lack of experience in electrical work can cause you to commit a number of electrical code violations. Luckily, all are easily avoidable. Learn how to prevent these common violations the next time you work a job:
Separate Low and Line Voltages
If the exposed conductor of a low voltage wire crosses with a 120v outlet, it can damage whatever appliance is connected to the wire. In addition, it can melt the surrounding insulation and start a fire. Make sure the low-voltage and line-voltage wires are kept at least six inches apart.
Never Overcrowd Your Box
Another fire risk is stuffing a box with too many wires, switches or outlets. Heat needs space to dissipate, or else it might melt the insulation. Purchase the NEC Handbook, or read FHB #144 on FineHomeBuilding.com to learn how much space of a box can be occupied by wires.
Read Labels and Follow Instructions
Most light fixtures have a small tag attached to them that reads “If your house was built prior to 1987 or has 60 degree Celsius wiring, consult a qualified electrician”. Don’t ignore this solid piece of advice: most new fixtures have 90 degree Celsius wiring to match the wiring in newer homes. When two mismatched wires cross, the newer one can overpower the capacity of the older one, and cause a fire.
If the wires in your lighting appliance and home don’t match, you can replace all the wiring from the switch to the light with newer wire, or you can remove all the wire from the fixture box and install it in a junction box. Then, you can splice new wire onto the old and run it back to the fixture box.
Mistakes happen all the time by those with no understanding of electrical code violations. Fortunately, all are easily preventable if you take the time to learn a few tips before you work with wires.