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When performing basement wiring installation or upgrades, there are a few things that will help the job go easier. Know all applicable electrical codes, use the right components for the job, and be sure the person doing the work is only do work he is qualified to do. The single most important tip, however, is to work safely.
Most geographical areas have some sort of electrical code in place that defines the minimum requirements for electrical work. In the United States, the most often used electrical code is the National Electrical Code (NEC). Additionally, many states, provinces and other local authorities have codes particular to their area that must be satisfied. Making sure an installation complies with all codes will ensure that the basement wiring will not need to be redone or detract from the value of the home.
When wiring any space, there are often a number of components being installed that must all work together properly and safely. Some of the more common components in a basement wiring installation are circuit breakers, wire, and electrical outlets. In most locations, a specific size wire is required with a certain size circuit breaker. Under the NEC, for example, if a circuit is getting its power from a 20-amp circuit breaker, the wiring in the circuit must be 12-gauge or larger. Additionally, the circuit breaker must be compatible with, and fit properly into, the circuit breaker panel.
Codes are constantly changing, as are the components used in electrical installations. Qualified professionals keep up to date with these changes and know the basic rules that apply to all electrical installations. For this reason, all codes define what types of work must be performed or supervised by licensed individuals and which do not require it. Many locations do allow homeowners to perform some do-it-yourself electrical installations; but exactly what work homeowners are legally considered qualified to perform varies from location to location. Make sure that the person doing any basement wiring is qualified under the law to do the job.
Safety is always a major concern in any electrical installation, including basement wiring. The power to a circuit should always be disconnected before any work is performed on it, regardless of the inconvenience it may cause. A device that will not allow the power to be accidentally reapplied, such as a circuit breaker lockout, should always be in use if there is more than one person working in the area. If work is stopped on an electrical installation, all potentially live wires and electrical panels should be secured before being left unattended.
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