Electrical Safety Code Violations You Might Be Overlooking

Electrical Safety Code Violations You Might Be Overlooking

As an electrician, I know that staying up-to-date on electrical codes and standards is crucial for ensuring safety. However, even experienced electricians can miss some violations that inspectors routinely check for. Here are some electrical safety code violations that are easy to overlook.

Outdated Electrical Panels

Older electrical panels, especially those manufactured before 1980, can lack safety features of modern panels. Some issues to watch out for:

I always recommend homeowners upgrade any electrical panels older than 40 years. A licensed electrician can advise you on current code requirements and necessary upgrades.

Lack of Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs)

AFCIs are special circuit breakers that shut off power when an arc fault (electrical sparks) is detected. They help prevent electrical fires.

The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires AFCI protection for:

Upgrading older panels to add AFCI protection is essential. I commonly find homes without any AFCI circuits. This is a major fire hazard.

Missing GFCI Protection

Lack of ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection is another common violation I see. GFCIs detect leakage currents and cut power to prevent shocks.

The NEC requires GFCIs in bathrooms, kitchens, garages, outdoors, crawl spaces, unfinished basements, and other damp locations.

Some areas electricians can miss needing GFCI protection:

Inspect all these areas to ensure proper GFCI protection. Install GFCI receptacles or circuit breakers as needed.

Improper Use of Extension Cords and Power Strips

Extension cords and power strips are designed for temporary, portable use only. However, I often find them misused in permanent applications:


ONLY use extension cords or power strips for portable purposes they are designed for.

Permanent wiring changes should always be performed by qualified electricians, adhering to local electrical codes. Extension cords also should not substitute for repairing loose, damaged wall outlets.

Lighting Fixtures Without Proper Ratings

Indoor and outdoor lighting fixtures must have ratings suitable for their locations. For example:

Always check fixture labels are suitable for the location. Swapping indoor and outdoor fixtures can be unsafe. Installing lighting without verifying ratings is an easy mistake I see often result in code violations.

As you can see, even seasoned electricians must be diligent in watching for these common yet critical safety issues. Let me know if you have any electrical concerns in your home I can inspect! Staying up-to-code and fixing problems promptly ensures your electrical system is safe for your family.