Basement Wiring Codes Compliance: A Comprehensive Guide
If we inspect Toronto homes, we rarely find a home with full basement wiring code compliance and doesn’t have one or two electrical safety code violations. It is based on our many years of experience inspecting, remodelling and repairing homes. Most of the time, this code violation is too many! Some minor offences, but others are serious enough to cause a fire.
Most violations are because someone other than a licensed electrical contractor did electrical work in the home. The homeowner may have done it themselves or enlisted the help of a relative or friend because they think they know everything there is to know about DIY.
Homeowners may have hired non-specialist technicians to do the work instead of licensed electrical contractors because they know they can save money.
These savings seems attractive at first. However, electrical work is not one where you can avoid following the electrical safety code for basement wiring to save money. You may save money but it may cost your home or your family’s life.
KCS Group has an expert and experienced team of certified electricians and guarantees code compliance for your basement wiring in their projects.
It is now the law
In January 2006, it became law in Ontario that only owner-occupied homeowners or licensed electrical contractors can perform electrical work in a residential home. Not even a legally licensed electrician can work on your home.
So what is the difference? Licensed electrical contractors (LECs) are the only businesses with certain exemptions, such as HVAC installers, in Ontario legally allowed to perform electrical work in your home.
Licensed electrical contractors employ qualified electricians. A licensed electrician only performs work temporarily if hired by a licensed electrical contractor, such as KCS Group Partners. For more information, visit esasafe.com.
This law was enacted because many house fires were occurring. After all, unauthorized persons were carrying out electrical work on residential properties. As a result, if an unauthorized person does an electrical job in his home and his home catches fire, the insurance company will no longer cover the damage. You must prove that a LEC has performed electrical work on your home.
As a homeowner, you have the legal right to do your electrical work. However, please be safe and follow the rules. Get an Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) permit and have an inspector inspect your work.
Electrical codes for basement wiring in Ontario
There are many common shortcomings that we face when working at home. I will outline some of them here so you can look around your home to ensure it is safe.
It is not an exclusive list and is not intended to replace an inspection by an ESA inspector or a LEC. If you would like our electrician to perform a complete electrical inspection of your home, register your request on our website.
You can use some useful electrical tools to test the electrical system in your home. One of these induction tester tools is related to detecting electric fields that work with AC voltage. When you place the tester near an electrical conductor, electrostatic or magnetic fields induce a current that flows through the tester. It causes the device to turn on, make a sound, or both to indicate the presence of voltage.
You can test whether your GFCIs are working properly by pressing the reset button. Using a receptacle tester with a GFCI reset button would be best. This device checks that a power outlet is connected correctly.
You can use aluminum wiring without any problem. However, because it is softer than copper wire, the wires can come loose from the terminals when attached to switches and outlets. In North American residential construction, aluminum wire was used for wiring entire homes for a short time from the 1960s to the late 1970s, during a period when copper prices were high.
ESA recommends that you inspect aluminum-wired homes and maintain them every 3 to 5 years by a licensed electrical contractor, such as KCS Group.
The most common defect in aluminum-wired homes is outlets and switches that are wired incorrectly. You must connect all aluminum wires to a specific aluminum socket or switch. Decora (rectangular) switches and sockets are more modern, but you can only use them for copper wire.
If you terminate an aluminum wire in a copper-only rated device, different metals will be in contact because they are different; they expand and contract at different rates. Metal surfaces can oxidize, which generates heat and can lead to fires and equipment damage.
You can also convert aluminum to copper wire and plug it into a non-aluminum outlet or switch. It means taking a piece of copper wire and running it between them. A LEC should do it.
To see if you have suitable plugs and switches, determine if your home was built when aluminum was used. If you have aluminum wiring, you can turn off the power to your house and remove a random set of plugs and switches. It would help if you stamped Al/Cu somewhere on the device.
Basement wiring code compliance for bedroom/living room/dining room
This new ESA code requires one receptacle for every 6 inches of usable wall space. It came into play because many fires were started by indoor wiring.
Extension cords are designed to be temporary. Since they are intended for temporary use only, they can overheat and cause fires. However, because houses were built without enough plugs in individual rooms, people permanently used indoor wiring.
You’ll never need to add extra receptacles, but to be safe, consider it if you’re using internal wiring. Also, any new construction requires compliance with Rule 6.
Another thing that you should pay attention to in any room of the house is painted dishes, switches and cover plates. Paint acts as an insulator and traps heat that can cause sparks and fires. It is also a violation of the ESA code. If you have painted plugs and switches in your home, remove them and replace them with new ones.
It is also imperative for you to know which fuses or circuit breakers control which outlets and lights in your home. You don’t want to start flipping breakers in an emergency to determine which outlet or device turns off. You can use the panel labelling method!
These are only some of the items that must meet the basement wiring code compliance. In the next part of this article, I will discuss the bathroom and other electrical safety tips in the basement.