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Typical Electrical Building Codes:

General Requirements when Wiring a House; be Sure to Pull a Building Permit when Required

© 2008 by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission.

Replacing an electrical recepticle

Replacing an electrical recepticle

This article was updated on 02/14/20.

Local electrical building codes must be followed during new construction or when remodeling a home. Code requirements vary by room. Building permits must be obtained.

This is the fourth in a residential wiring series of articles. The previous article examined how to wire a utility room.Before that, wiring a bathroom. The article previous to that looked at wiring a kitchen.

Ye Shall Obey the Code

Although all cities or municipalities have their own building codes which vary by degree, the typical electrical building codes noted here are often found. Some electrical building codes are general to the home overall; others are very specific depending on the room’s purpose.

This article will list common ones.

The points made in this article provide common electrical building codes. Check out your local codes for specificity.

Understanding home wiring is important before doing any modifications as well as new installs. And, be aware that an electrical construction permit is usually pulled at your city hall or another municipal building. Periodic inspections will be made by the electrical building inspector.

Wiring for Bedrooms, the Living Room, and the Dining Room

As I mentioned above, before you begin any wiring project, it’s important to understand home wiring concepts.

  • Note that it is no longer acceptable for the main ceiling light to be activated with a pull chain; it must be a wall switch. A ceiling fan light may have a chain but it still must be connected to the switch.
  • Each of these rooms has at least one entry door. Install a wall light switch near it.
  • Your light switch must turn on either a a switched receptacle or a ceiling light fixture.
  • Every wall shall have a minimum of one electrical receptacle. But there should be more than one for convenience; there shall be one available every 12 feet.
  • All light fixtures shall be on a 15-amp circuit.

The Electrical Building Code for Your Kitchen

  • The electrical building code for your kitchen is quite a bit more complicated than other areas of the home due to all the appliances.
  • Generally speaking, receptacles that are above countertops and used for small kitchen appliances must be GFCI receptacles, controlled by two 20-amp circuits.
  • Other receptacles are on 15-amp split-circuits.
  • More sizable appliances like the garbage disposal, refrigerator, and dishwasher may need to be put on dedicated circuits.
  • All kitchen lighting is on its own 15-amp circuit.

Electrical Wiring for Your Bath

  • Wiring a bathroom is simple. Since the bathroom is a wet area, you’ll be required to provide GFCI-protected receptacles.
  • Lights shall be protected with a globe, lens, or something similar to keep moisture out.
  • Depending on the amperage you consume, heaters, lights, as well as exhaust fans shall be on their own circuits.

Code Standards for Outdoor Applications

  • Any outside wiring is open to the elements. Because of that, either underground feed cable (UF) or sealed conduit shall be used.
  • How deep should the conduit be buried? That’s something that’s dependent upon local code. Investigate your local code.
  • All fixtures shall be tightly sealed to keep water out. No-brainer here, folks.
  • Interestingly, in some municipalities, no building permits are needed for the installing low-voltage lighting. Expect this to change.

Wiring a Closet

  • Closets are basic wiring jobs. One ceiling light shall be installed; and like your living room, pull chains arn’t allowed, but a wall switch shall be used.

Attached Garage Electrical Codes

  • The overhead light requirement is the same as for the closet.

These typical electrical building codes should get you started on your project. Just be sure to use a licensed electrician and pull permits when required to do so.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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