Most people don’t know a whole lot about electricity, but a few things are pretty common knowledge. One of these things is an important safety tip: water and electricity do not mix. With it being so crucial to keep electrical current and moisture separated, using electricity outside would seem like a disaster waiting to happen. However, thanks to modern technology, outdoor electrical installations are safer and more reliable than ever before. However, they can only be this way if they are installed and maintained properly, and this is why we have an all-important electrical code that must be adhered to.
Here are five of the most common code violations for outdoor electrical installations. If you find any of these faults on your property, call a professional right away so it can be rectified to keep your home safe.
Having the Wrong Type of Breaker
Circuit breakers are important safety devices that shut off the power to a particular circuit in your home if too much current flows through it. This prevents a power surge and thus helps you avoid potential damage to your home. However, there are several different types of circuit breakers that are optimized for different uses, and it’s critical to have the right one installed on any circuit that feeds electricity to an outdoor application.
Ground fault circuit interrupter breakers, or GFCI breakers for short, are designed for use anywhere you might use small appliances or anywhere that water might be present around your electrical outlet. This includes your kitchen, bathrooms, and utility rooms as well as outdoor outlets. If you have a home that’s 30 years or older, check your electrical panel to see if your outdoor breakers are equipped with a GFCI. If not, replace this breaker with a proper one as soon as possible.
Improperly Covered Outlets
Electrical outlets located outdoors should be properly covered. However, not all covers are created equal. Some covers are made from metal while others are made of plastic. Some are designed for outdoor use, others are not. Any outdoor outlet needs to be properly shielded to protect it from weather, but how do you know you’re getting the right cover?
Many older outdoor installations are covered by simple metal outlet covers that feature a layer of foam that forms a seal and a small door that is mounted on a spring that holds it shut. These outlet covers are no longer code compliant and should be replaced. All outdoor outlets should instead be covered by plastic “bubble” covers that allow you to keep a cord plugged in while still forming a water-tight seal over the entire outlet. This allows you to use your outlet during inclement weather without the risk to the outlet itself. Likewise, with the cord having a small hole it can lead out from, these covers can create a seal without pinching your cord or compromising your connection in any way. They are widely available, affordable, and generally extremely easy to install, so we advise installing them as soon as possible.
Not Using Outdoor Rated Junction Boxes
All junction boxes and other outdoor receptacles need to be made from materials that are built to withstand the abuse of outdoor use. The elements are harsh on a lot of different materials, and that means wear and tear can form that eventually causes the box to fail. When the box fails, it could leak in water or create some other type of dangerous condition.
Outdoor-rated boxes are generally made from one of two materials: metal or outdoor-rated plastic. Plastic boxes are generally cheaper, but metal boxes are more durable. In either case, make sure any conduit leading in and out of these boxes is properly sealed using an outdoor-rated connector and that any connections inside are created using approved methods and materials. Splices (a common DIY technique) are extremely dangerous and should not be used under any circumstances to join wires in either an indoor or outdoor setting.Worried about code violations in your electrical system? Have them corrected by the team at Lightning Bug Electric! Dial (404) 471-3847 today.