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(262)820-3450

Is your home's electrical issue a code violation?

Should you hire an electrician?

It can be difficult to determine the severity of electrical issues in your home. Sometimes a light goes out because the bulb burns out. Other times the light goes out because you used the wrong bulb, causing the fixture to overheat and melt the socket, presenting a serious fire hazard. One of these is a code violation and the other is not, but to most people, the issue appears to be the same.

Knowing whether an electrical problem is a code violation or not is critical to understanding what to do. Below is a list of common and often overlooked residential electrical issues that could be indicative of a serious code violation. Violations of your city’s electrical code often present a threat to you and your family, so please contact a professional electrician if you are unsure. 

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Learn about which electrical issues need an electrician to resolve

Using the Wrong Light Bulb

Electricians call this “overlamping.” When a light fixture has a bulb that’s higher than the manufacturer’s recommendation, the fixture can overheat, melting the socket and potentially catching fire. Always use the manufacturer’s recommended wattage. If you’re unsure, we recommend using a 60-watt bulb or less.

  • Code Violation: YES
  • Hazard: HIGH
  • Repair Cost: LOW
  • Electrician needed?: UNLIKELY - unless more substantial damage has occurred.

Uncovered Junction Box

An uncovered junction box is not as dangerous as other code violations, but it’s still a violation. Most of the time you can buy a junction box cover at your local hardware store and install it. This will prevent anyone from damaging the wires or getting shocked.

  • Code Violation: YES
  • Hazard: LOW
  • Repair Cost: LOW
  • Electrician needed?: NO

Flickering Lights

Most of the time, flickering lights indicate loose or frayed wiring/damage. This is not a code violation but is a significant fire hazard. If you suspect you have loose or frayed wires in your Weatherhead, it’s best to leave those lights off and contact your local utility company (they might fix it for free). If not, contact Trawicki Electric and we’ll repair it promptly.

  • Code Violation: NO
  • Hazard: HIGH
  • Cost: MEDIUM - if your local utility company won’t fix it for free
  • Electrician needed?: MAYBE

Not Enough Outlets

This is a common problem. There’s no code violation for not having enough outlets, but it does mean relying on more extension cords and power strips. An overloaded power strip can present a fire hazard when it overheats. Trawicki Electric’s professional residential electricians can install more outlets around your home for a low price. Contact Trawicki Electric today.

  • Code Violation: NO
  • Hazard: HIGH
  • Cost: LOW
  • Electrician needed?: YES

No GFCI’s in Bathrooms or Kitchens

Non-GFCI plugs present a significant danger but are not a code violation. GFCI outlets are ideal for bathrooms and kitchens where there’s an increased chance of them being exposed to water. GFCI’s help reduces the risk of electrocution under these circumstances. You can purchase GFCI outlets at your local hardware store for about $10-15 each. We recommend having a professional electrician install the GFCI’s to ensure everything is done correctly. Learn more about GFCI outlet installation

Over-Wired Panel

An over-wired panel is an electrical code violation despite not presenting much of a threat. This is especially relevant if you are trying to sell your home because it will cause you to fail the inspection. There are two fixes: (a) install a sub-panel or (b) install a larger panel. Installing a sub-panel will be far more cost-effective than installing a new panel. Contact Trawicki for more info.

  • Code Violation: YES
  • Hazard Level: LOW
  • Cost: HIGH
  • Electrician needed?: YES

Aluminum Wiring

Aluminum wiring is only an issue if you live in an older home. During the 1960s and 1970’s aluminum wiring was used as a less expensive substitute for copper wiring. Aluminum wiring is not a code violation, but it does present a serious fire hazard. There are two fixes: (a) replace all the wirings, which would be expensive, or (b) retrofit a dielectric wire nut approved for aluminum wire onto each copper/aluminum connection. Contact Trawicki for help.

  • Code Violation: NO
  • Hazard: HIGH
  • Cost: LOW or HIGH - depends on which repair method you choose
  • Electrician needed?: PROBABLY

Insufficient Receptacles

Not having enough outlets is not a violation of the National Electric Code. However, it can prevent a hazard. Having too few electrical outlets means having to rely more on extension cords and power strips. Overloaded power strips can overheat and present a fire hazard. Best solution is to add more power outlets. In most cases, you'll need a professional electrician, as this will require cutting into walls and ceiling to install wiring. 

  • Code Violation: NO
  • Hazard: HIGH
  • Cost: MEDIUM - depends on how many outlets and how much wiring is installed
  • Electrician needed?: YES

Incorrectly Covering Outdoor Receptacles

All outdoor outlets should be covered whether they're used or not. Covering outdoor outlets in wet or damp areas is especially important, as these outlets have a higher liklihood of shocking someone or short cicuiting when you plug something in (short circuiting is a fire hazard, can cause power outages, and damage to appliances). The National Electric Code (NEC) mandates the use of Bubble Covers for all outdoor outlets in wet locations. You can find outdoor receptacle covers online or at your local hardware store. An electrician is usually not needed, unless water damage has already occurred to the outdoor outlet.

  • Code Violation: YES
  • Hazard: MEDIUM
  • Cost: LOW
  • Electrician needed?: NO

Using the Wrong Circuit Breaker

Circuit breakers protect your wiring and appliances, but there are a couple different types designed for different applications. Standard circuit breakers are great at protecting wiring and equipment, but they aren't as great at preventing fires. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) or Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) are required by the NEC.

GFCI - for wet/damp/humid areas like bathrooms, kitchens, garages, sump pumps, unfinished basements, etc.

AFCI - for indoor living areas like living rooms, dining rooms, dens, etc. 

  • Code Violation: YES
  • Hazard: HIGH
  • Cost: MEDIUM
  • Electrician needed?: YES

Receptacles that are NOT Tamper-Resistant

Tamper Resistane Receptacles (TRRs) look like any other outlet, but are nuilt with safety shutters that block any foreign objects from being inserted into the receptable. This prevents tampering and associated injuries. The safety shutters can only be opened by inserting a 2 bladed or grounded plug. TRRs have been required by the National Electric Code since 2008. TRRs are especially helpful for commercial liablity reduction and child-proofing residential outlets. 

  • Code Violation: YES
  • Hazard: LOW
  • Cost: LOW
  • Electrician needed?: YES

Improper Splicing

Improper splicing can become a serious hazard if the wires become exposed. Exposed live wires can arc and cause fires. There are a few ways to properly splice a wire, and those methods include electrical tape, splice caps, and soldering. In most cases, proper splicing includes a combination of these. 

  • Code Violation: YES
  • Hazard: MEDIUM
  • Cost: LOW
  • Electrician needed?: NO

Electrical Contractor for Code Violations

Trawicki Electric can make sure any electric code violations in your residence are resolved. If you are unsure about an issue being a code violation or are looking to sell your home in the near future, our electricians can provide an inspection to determine if everything is up to code and recommend solutions for any violations.

Contact Trawicki Electric

...with any questions regarding electrical code or fixes to your home’s electrical systems.