The Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation recently adopted the 2005 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) as the state’s basic electrical requirement, effective July 1, 2005. The new code supercedes the 2002 edition of the NEC, which was adopted by the Commission in January 2004. The older version of the code has served as the state’s electrical code since September 1, 2004.
Prior to September 1, 2004, Texas did not have a statewide electrical code. Cities and regional authorities were authorized to adopt and enforce local electrical codes, but many areas of rural Texas had no basic requirements.
House Bill 1487, a law passed by the 78th Texas Legislature that created the Electrical Safety Program and a state electrical license, also authorized the Texas Commission of Licensing and Regulation to adopt the NEC as the statewide electrical code, and to adopt the revised version of the code as it is updated every three years.
There are several revisions to the 2005 National Electrical Code that immediately impact the Texas homebuilder. A discussion of these revisions is noted below:
2005 NEC - 250. 50 - Grounding Electrode System
Article 250.50 introduces the important concepts of a "grounding electrode system," in which all electrodes present in a building are bonded together. Rather than total reliance on a single grounding electrode to perform its function over the life of the electrical installation, the NEC encourages the formation of a system of electrodes. There is no doubt that building a system of electrodes adds a level of reliability and helps ensure system performance over a long period of time.
This section was revised for the 2005 Code to clearly require the inclusion of a concrete-encased electrode, described in section 250.52(A)(3), in the grounding electrode system for buildings or structures having a concrete footing or foundation with not less than 20 ft of surface area in direct contact with the earth. This requirement applies to all buildings and structures with a foundation and/or footing having 20 ft or more of ½ in. or greater electrically conductive reinforcing steel or 20 ft or more of bare copper not smaller than no.4 AWG.
Because the installation of the footings and foundation is one of the first elements of a construction project and in most cases has long been completed by the time the electric service is installed, this revised text necessitates an awareness and coordinated effort on the part of designers and the construction trades in making sure that the concrete-encased electrode is incorporated into the grounding electrode system.
2005 NEC - 422.16 (B) (4) - Range Hoods
This article was added to the 2005 Code to allow range hoods to be cord-and-plug connected under specific prerequisite conditions. The Code requires that if a receptacle is installed for a range hood, this receptacle must be supplied by an individual branch circuit. In the past, a receptacle supplying a lighting circuit could be used for a range hood. The reason for the change is because vent hoods are sometimes removed making room for a microwave oven. Microwaves require individual branch circuits, thus the change. If the range hood is directly connected without a cord, the individual branch circuit is not required.
2005 NEC - 210.8 (A) (7) - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Protection for Personnel
Recognizing that sinks at wet bars are not the only location where a ground-fault shock hazards exist, this requirement now also covers sinks in laundry and utility areas. With this change, GFCI protection requirements are now in place for all areas in a dwelling unit in which a sink is installed. The revised text of this requirement does not limit the GFCI requirement to only receptacles serving countertop surfaces; rather, it covers all 125-volt, 15 and 20 ampere receptacles that are within 6 ft. of any point along the outside edge of the sink. Many appliances used in these locations are ungrounded, and the presence of water and grounded surfaces contributes to a hazardous environment, leading to the revision of this requirement for GFCI protection around sinks. Unlike the GFCI requirements for garages and unfinished basements, there are no exceptions to GFCI protection for receptacles installed within 6 ft. of laundry, utility, and wet bar sinks.
2005 NEC - 334.80 - Ampacity
For the 2005 Code, a new derating requirement was added to prevent overheating of Type NM (romex) conductors where passing though draft and firestopping material. The Code reads where more than two NM cables containing two or more current-carrying conductors are bundled together and pass through wood framing that is to be fire or draft-stopped using thermal insulation or sealing foam, the allowable ampacity of each conductor shall be derated. Electricians are encouraged to install no more than two cables through each hole where foam sealant is used.
2005 NEC - 406.8 (A) - Receptacles in Damp or Wet Locations
To ensure the weatherproof integrity of the cord-and-plug connection to receptacles located in a damp location subject to beating rain or water runoff, this section requires receptacle covers that provide a weatherproof enclosure at all times regardless of whether the plug is inserted or not. These type covers should be considered for all outdoor wall receptacles.
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