Updating the electrical in a house

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If you decide to tackle an electrical job, consult your local building department and get an electrical permit before starting work.

Have the job inspected at the appropriate intervals dictated by the inspector.

(There will likely be a minimum charge.) This work requires cutting holes in walls and ceilings to snake the wires.

Some electricians will patch the holes; others leave the patching to you.

What it means: A light fixture has a bulb with a higher wattage than the fixture is designed for. Solution: Stay within the wattage limit listed on all light fixtures made since 1985.

The damage to socket and wires remains even after the bulb has been removed.

While it’s certainly possible for an amateur to add an outlet or replace a light switch with a dimmer switch, doing much more probably means hiring a licensed electrician.

Plugs installed in basements, garages, outdoors and bathrooms also require GFCI protection. Electric dryers require a 30-amp outlet protected by a 30-amp circuit breaker, while an electric oven mandates a 50-amp and 8-gauge wire protected by a 50-amp breaker. It’s important to size circuit breakers for the wire size they serve.

This is because these circuits will likely take appliances that draw greater amperage. Outlets and switches within a certain proximity to a sink or other water source must be protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).

A GFCI breaks the circuit even when a minute amount of water is present.

How would you describe the typical electrical service standard for new or remodeled houses?

A: The National Electrical Code (NEC) governs the size of the electrical panel for new homes or remodeled homes. Check with your local building department to see which version is followed in your area.

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