Ensuring Quality in Electrical Installations

Pass the code inspection with these tips.

Before having electrical work inspected for code compliance, review the installation to uncover any quality issues. Besides putting the home in a better position to pass the electrical inspection, this will help to avert costly warranty callbacks and increase customer satisfaction.

To pass inspection and ensure quality, the following steps are recommended:

Passing Inspection

  • Leave between 6 and 8 inches of cabling in each electrical box. Leaving less than 6 inches isn't permitted by code; leaving more than 8 inches doesn't leave enough space to easily install receptacles.
  • Check that all electrical boxes are in the right locations per the plans. Also confirm that all boxes are straight, square and securely fastened to the framing. A good practice is to use at least two screws, nails or fasteners. And be sure that no boxes are broken or protruding past the stud face.
  • When drilling holes through studs in exterior walls to install cabling, drill the holes along the bottom of the studs. Locating cabling along the bottom of the wall keeps the rest of the wall cavity open, making it easier to install insulation. Be sure cabling is installed neatly in straight lines and is level and plumb where possible. Cabling also should lie flat against the framing and shouldn't be twisted or cut.
  • Check the position and alignment of recessed can-light fixtures. If the mounting brackets protrude past the framing more than intended, they can cause problems such as waviness and joint misalignment during the drywall stage. On exterior walls, be sure all electrical boxes are air-sealed to prevent air infiltration.

Ensuring Quality After Inspection

  • After the code inspection, check the system with the electrician to make sure everything is working properly. At this time, switch on the main service disconnect to energize the electrical panel. Energize each circuit one by one, and check each receptacle and lighting outlet on the circuit for voltage, connection polarity and switch control.
  • Check receptacle outlets with a voltage tester, voltmeter or plug tester. Use these to determine if they're energized with the correct voltage, to determine if the receptacle is wired for the proper polarity, and to confirm that the receptacle is properly grounded.
  • Make sure GFCI outlets trip properly. When you trip the first GFCI outlet on a circuit, all subsequent outlets on that circuit should lose power.
  • To test lighting outlets, simply energize the circuit that a light fixture is on and then turn the switch or switches that control the fixture on and off. It's assumed that a lighting fixture is wired properly if the lamps light when the switches are activated.
  • To test switch connections, simply turn the switches on and off. This test is straightforward in a single-pole switch. Three- and four-way switching arrangements are more time-consuming; to ensure they're working properly, it's necessary to test the switches in all possible configurations.
  • If any component isn't working properly, have the electrician go through troubleshooting procedures to pinpoint the problem and then fix it.

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