Top 6 Residential Electrical Defects

We have listed the top 6 Residential Electrical Defects that we have found in the past year.

Residential Electrical Defects: #1 Unlabelled Electrical Panels.

Residential Electrical Defects - The Electrical Panel must be clearly labelled.
The Electrical Panel must be clearly and accurately labelled.

The longstanding champion of Residential Electrical Defects is “Panel legend must be clearly and accurately labelled in ink” this remains undefeated in the #1 position.

It is the most common, most frustrating and easiest-to-correct residential electrical defect of all time.

No breaker should be unlabelled, even if it is the generic “plugs & lights” or “general”.

You often see that nomenclature when an existing panel has been replaced, but you should NEVER see it in a new build.

#2 No Tamper Resistant Outlets in a New Installation.

Tamper resistant outlets have engineered shutters at the entrance of the outlet. These shutters are designed to open only when equal pressure is applied to the outlet. It prevents curious youngsters from shoving pins, scissors, and other miscellany into the outlet and getting electrocuted.

These devices were engineered to replace the plastic caps previously used to “protect” children, but actually turned out to be choking hazards as well as really easy to pull out of the outlet. There are instances where the Code allows non TR outlets to be installed, but it is much better to just use them everywhere.

#3 No GFCI Protection for Outlets within 1.5 Meters (5 feet) of a Kitchen Sink in a New Installation.

GFCI Outlet

The definition of a new installation is a new build or a kitchen renovation where outlets were relocated. A renovation where no wiring was added or relocated doesn’t fall under this rule (although it is a proactive measure to upgrade). There are prescriptive measures in the Code for retrofitting existing “split outlets”. It is only common sense to use this life saving device in areas where equipment could become immersed.

#4 No Mechanical Support for Cables.

Each cable in an electrical installation must have mechanical support within 300mm of a device box, junction box or panel.

There must be additional support every 900mm along the cable run. This can be provided by approved staples or straps and where cables pass through framing members also counts as mechanical support.

#5 No Arc-Fault Protection for Prescribed Circuits.

In Ontario arc-fault breakers are required for circuits that service all receptacles, excluding the lighting. The latest Code update requires arc-fault breakers on ALL circuits. These breakers protect the wiring system from “sputtering faults” where enough heat is generated to start a fire, but not enough over current happens to trip a regular breaker.

#6 No Termination Box for Unused Conductors.

It is a common and good practice to leave conductors “roughed-in” for future equipment such as dishwashers or microwaves. Often times wiring is pre-installed for pot lights and other recessed products. The problem is these conductors get installed on a breaker in the panel box and unprotected live wires are lying about.

Code requires these conductors to be installed in a protective termination box with approved box connectors and wire caps to make everything safe.

What do these Residential Electrical Defects all have in common? They are found in amateur installations performed by unlicensed individuals.