Important Electrical Code Changes Could Soon be Adopted Near You

Filed in Codes and Regulations by on October 23, 2019 18 Comments
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hand of a man plugging an electrical cord into a GFCI electrical outlet With the International Code Council’s 2021 building codes cycle in full swing, it’s important to note another set of codes that may have a big effect on many home builders and remodelers.

The National Fire Protection Association recently published the 2020 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC). This particular edition of the code has some significant changes that target residential electrical service, including:

  • Under section 230.67 of the code, all electrical service to homes would need to have a surge protect device installed. This applies to new home builds and remodels.
  • Section 210.8(A)(5) calls for all basement receptacles to have ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. This section previously applied only to unfinished areas of basements.
  • Section 210.8(A) would require receptacles serving 250-volt appliances – like stoves and dryers – to have GFCI protection when located in certain areas. This section previously applied to outlets up to 125 volts only.
  • Under section 230.85, all one- and two-family homes would be required to have a labelled electrical disconnect in a readily accessible outdoor location.

While the current code cycle for the NEC is complete, the code was just recently published, meaning it has yet to be widely adopted. But many state and local jurisdictions will begin their adoption processes soon.

Home builders can still influence the adoption process at their state and local levels. NAHB has recommendations for changes to codes language that it encourages members to share with local adopting bodies. For example, NAHB recommends changing the new GFCI requirements back to only unfinished portions of basements and for the surge protection language to be struck altogether.

It is very important for home builders, remodelers and trade contractors to get involved in the codes process at every step. While the NEC is done for this cycle, the development of the new I-codes, such as the International Residential Code, can be influenced. With the ICC meeting right now to determine which residential building code changes will be on their ballot, builders can sign up to participate in NAHB’s One & Done campaign for better codes.

For more information on the NEC and adoption process, contact Dan Buuck.

Comments (18)

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  1. John Ahern says:

    Has there been any cost-benefit analyses for these ” improvements” in the codes. Re-evaluation of the codes and trade practices is prudent, but sometimes the suggested changes are feathering the beds of interested parties (e.g. hot water for all restrooms) or updating the various codes just to maintain a revenue stream for code sales.

  2. mike says:

    So now they want to start gfci. protection on finished basements and certain appliances! If thats the case of providing gfci. protection in even finished basements then why dont they abolish the arc faults for the same areas. I would rather see gfci. protection on all outlet and lighting circuits and get rid of every arc fault. a gfci. protects people, a arc fault protects the building, ask yourself whats driving these decisions and why. As far as surge protectors being required who or what is the driving force behind this? To much regulation can/will adversely affect building quantities.

  3. Mark Myers says:

    Under section 230.85, all one- and two-family homes would be required to have a labelled electrical disconnect in a readily accessible outdoor location.

    How are these configured to prevent malicious tampering by thieves?

    • Mike Ralph says:

      Very good question, especially in highly populated areas.

    • Steven A Hansen says:

      Exactly!! Seems like we totally missed this possibility which could be far more troubling than any problem these updates in the code would solve.

    • Joe says:

      Yes, readily accessible disconnects will be great for potential thieves and kids up to no good. Why not make it easy for them to do pranks, or worse, rob or harm homeowners by shutting off their power.

      This is the dumbest idea.

      If the fire Dept needs a cutoff, put this responsibility on the power company to install a keyed or protected shutoff on the meter, but it should not be easily accessible for just anyone.

      • rod says:

        Just a reminder that mobile homes have required disconnects on a separate structure for many years. If niceness turn off where going to be a problem they would be a problem in mobile home parks.

    • jim says:

      Under section 230.85, all one- and two-family homes would be required to have a labelled electrical disconnect in a readily accessible outdoor location.

      Use a locking/lockable enclosure

      “Readily accessible” (as defined in Art.100) allows for the use of keys to limit access.

  4. We are already experiencing problems with appliances on GFCI circuits tripping multiple times. My supplier claims the manufacturers won’t guarantee the GFCI receptacles or breakers after tripping and resetting a few times. This adds to problems caused by arc-fault circuits.
    Can the code review board list the number of accidents or instances which justify such a change? It seems that the code updates have become another self-propelling industry (bureaucracy?)with frequent updates of dubious real value. Obviously the goal is safety, but some cost-benefit should apply.
    The progression of code complexity, added to compounding labor and material costs over the last 10 years have placed a significant strain on affordability, leaving new construction primarily within reach of only high income households.

  5. Dan Sloan says:

    These Code folks don’t know what a “cost benefit analysis” is if it bit them on the XSS!

    I’m pretty sure this ongoing foolishness with Arc Faults and GFCIs in basements, etc. is all driven
    by the Manufacturers seeing guaranteed Cash Flow increase vs. any real documented safety incidents…

  6. Timothy McDonald says:

    Having areas in basements on GFCI protection. Have had issues with GFCI protection tripping out on sewage ejector pumps and sump pumps in basement thus causing water damage issues to occupied living space. Also bought a high effiency HWH by AO Smith that was propane and had a power vent installed. After changing the electronic ignition package once and replaced the HWH once the unit would not ignite. After numerous conversations with customer service we finally removed the second new unit and installed a propane instant hot unit. In my opinion the electronic ignition would not light because of the required arc fault / GFCI circuit the unit was connected to. NEC and inspector states ‘You must install AFCI / GFCI protection. AO Smith never admitted their high eff LP unit won’t ignite because of interference from the AFCI protected circuit. It is time to remove AFCI / GFCI protected circuits off sumps. sewer ejection pumps, and REF. Why do we need this? I am just a dumb electrician offering my 2 cents.

  7. LouisCamblor says:

    After vandals and thieves learn that they can disconnect the power to a residence by merely throwing an accessible switch on the outside of the dwelling, we will have chaos.

  8. David Lee says:

    Just like our legislators. If they don’t keep thinking up new rules, they don’t think they are doing their jobs.
    Looks good on their record, regardless of who it burdens.

  9. Susanna says:

    I can see a multitude of issues with the GFI ‘s, GFCI’s, surge protectors creating more problems than any improvement of electric service….. and of course driven by MFG who want to sell their products. I would venture this is driven by lobbying of MFG’s. Happened before … products didnt work!

  10. Jeff says:

    This will be as good as the raintight connectors and couplings that we pull all the crap out of the insides to get your conduit to slide in! Not to mention the rubber sealing gasket thats no good!

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