Keeping up with electrical standards essential to safety

Keeping up with electrical standards essential to safety

Electricity is an integral element of modern life, used for necessities like heating, cooling, lighting and cooking, as well as for communication and entertainment. The safety of home wiring systems and home appliances should not be taken for granted.

If you are considering remodeling your house, checking old wiring and wiring systems is highly recommended. Upgrading and replacing wiring is important because wiring becomes brittle over time and looses its conductivity, which increases the potential for it to heat up. This increases the risk of fires or faults in the system.

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), electricity is the cause of more than 40,000 fires in homes each year. Only 5 percent of fires from electricity occur in homes under 10 years old.

Almost one third of all homes in the United States are more than 50 years old. The disproportionate number of fires in older homes is mainly from old wiring, poor conductor insulation, overloaded circuits or improper upgrades.

Many older homes were built with electrical systems that were adequate at the time of construction but can no longer support the electrical needs of a modern home. Upgrading a system and replacing old wire with heavier gauge wire allows addition of circuits and outlets to meet modern electrical demands and provides an important safety factor.

National, State and Local Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) adheres to the standards set by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The NFPA publishes the National Electrical Code (NEC), which details the guidelines and standards for safe installation, upgrade and use of electrical wiring, accessories and appliances.

When undertaking an upgrade or replacement of electrical systems, request that the licensed electrician doing the work follow these codes.

Most states have electrical wiring and installation requirements, usually meeting NEC standards. Local bodies often develop their own codes that supplement or surpass state code. It is important to check with your local Boston area authorities to understand the requirements of local Boston electrical codes.


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