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Typical Electrical Code Requirements by Room in your home.

Tips and tricks from the best electricians in walker, louisiana

Electrical codes, standards, and requirements are in place to protect owners and occupants of businesses and residences.  However, they can be overwhelming at times. Fortunately, you don’t have to be an electrician to understand them. Let’s talk about electrical code requirements for each room in your house.

That’s what we’re here for, to explain what these codes mean, and how you can achieve code compliance at your home.  Doing so will save your property from damage, and prevent serious injury from electrical issues.

NFPA 70 – NEC

Most local codes are based off of what’s known as the National Electrical Code (NEC).  The NEC is actually a document put out by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  Also known as NFPA 70®, the National Electrical Code® (NEC®), sets the foundation for electrical safety. View the NEC on NFPA’s Website.

This document is revised every three years, and sometimes, contains important changes to the code.  That’s why we stay up to date with the code requirements and chances – so you don’t have to.

 

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Local Codes

The majority of local jurisdictions follow NFPA 70, and sometimes local codes are simply a variation somehow of the NEC. 

While the local code trumps the NEC, here in Louisiana, the Louisiana State Fire Marshal adopts the National Electrical Code, and most municipalities tend to follow suit. 

However, it’s always best to check with your local building department for the specific code requirements for your situation.

 

Code Requirements Specific to Each Room in Your Home

Most of the NEC involves general electric installations that apply to buildings as a whole, there are also specific requirements for individual rooms. Because each room in your home serves a different purpose, they also have different electrical hazards and needs. Let’s take a virtual walk through of your home and see what they are.

 

 

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Bathrooms

Bathrooms focus around water right?   Therefore, the code spells out very specific requirements.  In addition, bathrooms have lights, vent fans, and electrical outlets serving appliances that draw a fair amount of power.  (hairdryers, curling irons, etc.) Here are requirements specific to your bathroom:

  • Outlet receptacles must be served by a 20-amp circuit.  The same circuit can supply the entire bathroom (outlets and lighting), only if there are no heaters (including typical vent fans with built in heaters) on it.  This circuit can only serve this particular bathroom, and no other areas. Typically, it’s best to use a 20-amp circuit for the receptacles only, and a 15 or 20-amp circuit for the lighting and vent fan.
  • Vent fans that contain built in heaters must be on a dedicated 20-amp circuit.
  • All receptacles in the bathroom must have ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection against electrical shocks.  Because bathrooms are wet locations, this is a major concern.
  • At least one 120-volt receptacle is required within 3 feet of the outside edge of each sink.  Dual sinks, however, can share a single receptacle installed between them.
  • The light fixtures in the bath or shower area are required to be rated for damp locations.  If they are subject to spray from the shower, they must be rated for wet locations.
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Kitchen

It goes without saying, that the kitchen is the room that uses the most electricity in your home.   Today’s kitchen contains all sorts of gadgets and small appliances intended to make your life easier.  As a result, more circuits are required than decades ago. A kitchen today can require up to seven branch circuits, sometimes more.  Here’s some electrical requirements for your kitchen:

  • At least (2) 20-amp 120-volt circuits shall be provided for small appliance use.  These circuits serve the receptacles in the kitchen countertop areas. Basically, these outlets serve portable small appliances (toaster, can opener, etc.)
  • Your electrical range / oven must have its own dedicated 120/240-volt circuit.
  • Dishwashers and garbage disposals each require their own dedicated 120-volt circuits.  Whether they are 15 or 20-amp circuits depends on the appliance’s electrical load. To find the electrical load, check the manufacturer’s recommendations.)   Your dishwasher circuit requires GFCI protection, but chances are your garbage disposal doesn’t. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations to be sure.
  • The refrigerator and microwave each need to be on their own dedicated 120-volt circuits.  The amperage load on the circuit should be equal or higher than the electrical load of the appliance.  Typically a 20-volt circuit will suffice.
  • All receptacles on the countertops, as well as any receptacle within 6 feet of a sink shall be GFCI protected.  Additionally countertop receptacles shall be spaced no more than 4 feet apart.
  • Lighting in the kitchen must be supplied by a separate circuit, 15-amps minimum.
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Bedrooms, Dining Room, and Living Room

Next to the kitchen, these living areas tend to use a fair amount of electrical power.  And, you guessed it, they have clearly-defined electrical requirements. But, for the most part, these rooms tend to be served by standard 120-volt 15-amp or 20-amp circuits (if they serve more than one room).

  • A wall switch is required beside the entry door of the room to allow you to illuminate the room upon entering it.  This wall switch can control either a ceiling light, a wall light, or a receptacle for plugging in a lamp. A ceiling fixture cannot be dependent upon a wall chain.  The switch itself must turn on the light.
  • Wall receptacles shall be spaced no more than 12 feet on any wall surface and any wall spaces wider than 2 feet shall have a receptacle.
  • Dining rooms tend to require an additional, dedicated 20-amp circuit for an individual outlet used for a microwave, window air conditioner, or entertainment center.
  • Make sure you have a functioning smoke detector inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
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Hallways

Hallways tend to be long and narrow, and tend to require ceiling lighting to help you travel them safely.  Shadows can also be a factor, so make sure to install enough lighting to avoid shadows, which could cause you to trip.  

On a side note, keep your hallways free from clutter, as they also can serve as egress in the event of a fire or other emergency.  Here’s some other electrical requirements for hallways in your home:

  • Any hallway in excess of 10 feet long shall have an outlet for general purpose use.
  • Three-way switches are required on each end of the hallway so that you can control hallway lighting from both ends.
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Closets

Although one of the smallest “rooms” in your home, closets actually have several rules regarding light fixture types and placement.  Think about it. Light (Heat) + Clothes (Fabric) = Fire. Here’s how we can avoid fires:

  • Fixtures that get hot (incandescent bulbs) must be enclosed by a globe or other cover, and must be installed in excess of 12 inches of any area used for storing clothes (that spacing may be reduced to 6 inches in recessed fixtures.)
  • LED bulbs and fixtures must also be in excess of 12 inches from any storage area (6 inches for recessed).
  • Fixtures with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) may be installed within 6 inches of storage areas.
  • Any surface-mounted fixture must be on the ceiling or the wall above the door.
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Laundry Room

Depending on whether your clothes dryer is electric or gas, your needs for this room may vary.

  • A laundry room requires at least one 20-amp circuit for receptacles serving laundry equipment.  (clothes washer, gas dryer).
  • An electric dryer is required to have a 30-amp, 240-volt circuit, 4 conductor dedicated circuit.  
  • All receptacles must be GFCI-protected.
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Garage

Remember how we said previously that there are sometimes important updates to the code?  This is one such case.

  • Beginning with the 2017 Edition of the NEC, newly constructed garages require at least one dedicated 120 volt, 20-amp circuit serving only the garage.  (it may also serve receptacles on the exterior of the garage).
  • One switch is required to control lighting, with three-way switches recommended for convenience if multiple doors.
  • Garages must have at least one receptacle.
  • All receptacles in a garage area must be GFCI protected.

Side note:  With the increasing popularity of electric cars, we are curious to see what additional requirements are included in the upcoming editions of the NEC.

 

afci circuit breaker for walker louisiana electrician

Miscellaneous Requirements

 

NFPA 70 now requires that basically all branch circuits for lighting and receptacles be equipped with arc-fault-circuit-interrupter protection (AFCI).  AFCI protection guards against arcing (or sparking) and reduces the chance of fire. This is in addition to whatever GFCI protection is required, depending on the area served.  AFCI protection does not replace GFCI protection.

The good news, is that AFCI requirements are fairly new and are currently enforced in new construction.  There are no requirements to update existing systems to comply. However, effective in the 2017 NEC, as homeowners update or replace failing receptacles or devices, they are required to add AFCI protection at that location.

 

So how do you add AFCI protection?

It’s relatively simple to add protection for arc faults, and we can take care of that for you for a price that won’t shock you.  Here are some ways we can:

Replacing your circuit breaker with a special AFCI breaker.  Do not attempt to do this yourself. Have a licensed electrician replace the breaker, thereby providing AFCI protection for the entire circuit.

Replacing the existing receptacle with an AFCI receptacle.  This will provide AFCI protection for just the receptacle being replaced.

When GFCI protection is also required, we can replace existing receptacles with a dual AFCI/GFCI receptacle.

Keeping your children safe from electricity.

All standard receptacle outlet shall be tamper-resistant.  This is a safety feature that prevents children from inserting items into the receptacle slots.  

Code requirements for your house – room by room

There you have it.  Electrical code requirements for each room in your home.  If we’ve managed to confuse you on anything, or you have any questions, or need a qualified, licensed electrician in Walker, Baton Rouge, or surrounding areas, get in touch with us.  We’re here for you.

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