If you're planning on tackling remodeling or upgrade projects around the home that involve electrical work, you will first want to check that you have any necessary permits – or if you need to hire a licensed electrician – before starting work. For homeowners, a permit may not be required to replace electrical devices or to perform maintenance on an existing electrical installation. However, a permit is usually required to perform any of the following electrical work:
• Installing or alter any permanent wiring or electrical device • Run new wiring • Installing a new electrical outlet or light fixture • Installation of a receptacle for a garage-door opener • Converting a fuse box to a circuit breaker • Installing or altering low-voltage systems such as security alarms
If you are not sure if you need a permit for an electrical project, call your local building department. Some municipalities allow homeowners to pull their own permit, while other require a licensed electrician obtain the permit.
If allowed to obtain a permit in your area, you will need to be both the owner and the occupant of the home to obtain a permit to do the electrical work yourself. You may not perform any electrical installations or modifications on a house or residential unit intended for sale, lease, rent, or exchange. If you do not own or do not intend to live in the unit, a licensed electrician must perform the work.
If you do need a permit, the work must be inspected by a certified electrical inspector. A minimum of 24-hours' notice is usually required for inspections. When you call, you will be asked for the permit number, the homeowner's name, project address, type of inspection needed, and date on which the inspection is desired. Be prepared to furnish detailed directions to the job site and a detailed description of the electrical work performed.
Have questions about electrical upgrades to your home? Call Maitz Home Services. We can help answer all your electrical questions.
Roughly one-third of the homes in the U.S. are over 50 years old, and older homes are statistically at higher risk of electrical fires. The main reason older homes can be more dangerous is many were built with electrical systems which are no longer safe. Deterioration due to aging, improper installation and modification, a lack of modern safety devices, combined with today's electrical intensive households all combine to increase the risk of electrical fires.
By understanding what outdated wiring looks like, you can learn of your home is at greater risk. Depending on the age of the home, you will find one of three kinds of wiring.
Grounded Electrical Systems
Homes built in the 1940s through the present will have grounded electrical systems. Grounding is a critical safety feature that is designed to reduce the chance of shock or electrocution in the event of a short circuit. Grounding wires are connected directly to the earth through a metal grounding rod or a cold water pipe. Should a short circuit or an overload occur, any extra electricity will find its way along the grounding wire to the earth.
As the price of copper soared, aluminum wiring became more common in the 1960s and 1970s. Many of the receptacles and switched of the time we not designed to work with aluminum wire, resulting in bad fitting connections and a greater risk of fire. If your home has aluminum wiring that was installed in the 1960s or 70s have Maitz perform a safety inspection to ensure it is safe and up to code.
Knob & Tube Wiring
The earliest type of wiring found in homes built in the 1800s through the 1930s, knob and tube wiring is an open air system that uses ceramic knobs to keep wires away from combustible framing. These suspended wires were directed through ceramic tubes to prevent contact with the wood framing and starting a fire. Knob and tube wiring is a fire hazard because it's not grounded and is more exposed to damage from old and faulty modification.
If your concerned about your home's electrical system, call Maitz. We can inspect your wiring, service panel and other electrical components to ensure they are safe and meet all safety requirements.