When electricians study for their certification, they learn all about safety precautions and potential hazards when working with electricity. There are codes that must be followed and dangers to safeguard against. One of the primary areas when working toward an electrical trade is being familiar with the guidelines to follow for installing electricity in wet areas.
Rooms where moisture may accumulate in the home are not limited only to bathrooms, basements, kitchens, and laundry rooms. There are also Canadian electrical codes to follow when installing pools and hot tubs. In fact, almost every area of the home should be protected from water and electricity meeting. An undetected leak from the ceiling could pose a threat anywhere.
Several types of mishaps can occur if water manages to seep inside an electrical outlet or wiring becomes wet.
• Corrosion to wiring and outlets
• Fatal electrocution
• Thermal burns
• Eye and/or hearing damage from arc flashes
• Deadly short circuits
In addition to water being a conductor of electricity, the impurities in the water can damage wiring and outlets. For instance, salt is a key culprit in conducting electricity and causing corrosion. If the wire has been immersed in water or any other liquid contaminant, it should be replaced.
There are general safety standards to follow when it comes to working with electricity in wet areas.
Guidelines for Wet Areas
- Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) in wet areas because they will disrupt the electrical circuit before a current becomes deadly enough to cause an injury or death. This is important in the event of, for example, a flood.
- Replace fuses with the correct size of fuse.
- Inspect underwater lights in pools and hot tubs and check they’re not flickering.
- Find out how to turn off all power in the event of an emergency.
- When possible, use battery-operated as opposed to cord-connected appliances and equipment (such as stereos).
- Keep electrical appliances, equipment, and cords at least 6 feet away from water sources.
- It is recommended to set water heater thermostats between 110 and 120 degrees to prevent accidental scalding. Disconnect the water heater prior to making any adjustments by tripping the appropriate circuit breaker or removing the right fuse.
- Never operate electrical devices such as iPads or hair dryers near a bathtub or sink.
- Light fixtures, ballasts, and any other type of wiring device should be replaced after exposure to moisture.
- Most importantly, remember that water and electricity do not mix.
The latest edition of the Canadian Electrical Code was published in 2018. In it you will find a detailed outline of acceptable wiring methods and guidelines for safely installing electricity in wet locations. These wiring regulations are used across Canada.
Additionally, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website is an excellent resource for tips on working with electricity. However, hiring a certified electrician is your safest bet.
Be aware of all potential safety risks when it comes to electricity and wet areas in your home. The welfare of you and your family may depend on it.