Consumers beware! Ontario Electrical Safety Code has new rules

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MISSISSAUGA – Ontario homeowners and contractors need to be aware of the changes to the provincial Electrical Safety Code when they’re undertaking new construction or signification renovations to existing buildings.  This year, the newest edition of the Safety Code went into effect with several significant amendments. The code amendments are designed to reduce the electrical hazards faced by the province’s residents.

Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management and automation, that works closely with electricians, contractors and installers as a partner and supplier, has a series of tips on how Ontarians can ensure they stay safe when undertaking renovations or new construction. Here’s what homeowners need to know:

  • Combination Arc Fault Interrupters (CAFIs) are now required in almost all areas of residential buildings, including outdoors. In the past, CAFIs were only required for electrical outlets in bedrooms. CAFIs are devices that de-energize electrical circuits when they detect an electrical arc. According to the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, electrical distribution, including electrical arc faults, was the second-highest cause of residential structural fires in Ontario from 2009-2013. Electrical arc faults generate intense heat that can ignite material near the arc fault, such as wood or insulation, resulting in a fire. Having CAFIs installed throughout a home will reduce the risk of an arc fault and subsequent fire occurring.
  • New wiring on non-commercial docks, including cottage docks and boathouses, must now be protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). The goal of this change is to reduce electric shock drownings, which occur when people contact water that has been energized by a faulty electrical circuit. GFCIs shut down power to circuits when they detect electricity flowing along an unintended path, such as through water.
  • Light fixtures should now be installed further from material that could overheat and catch fire, according to new guidelines in the regulations. In the past, the safety code required a shade or some form of guard for lights in areas where combustible material was stored. The new guidelines apply to lights installed outside of storage areas, close to objects such as kitchen cabinets. The code provides suggestions for minimum distances between lights and any combustible material to minimize the chance of a fire occurring.
  • Wiring at recreational vehicle (RV) parks should now be located in positions that allow RVs to hook up without the use of lengthy and potentially dangerous extension cords. Long extension cords create a potential fire hazard, as well as a shock risk. The new regulations will allow RV owners to connect their vehicles without resorting to unsafe extension cords.
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Finally, homeowners who decide to make major renovations requiring electrical work should hire a licenced electrical contractor. Licenced contractors are familiar with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code and will help ensure any electrical projects are completed safely.

Schneider Electric is the global specialist in energy management and automation. With revenues of ~US$30 billion in FY2015, our 160,000+ employees serve customers in over 100 countries, helping them to manage their energy and process in ways that are safe, reliable, efficient and sustainable. – CNW

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