In September, the National Fire Protection Association issued the revised National Electrical Code (NEC). The document includes more than 1,000 pieces of new guidance.
The 2017 NEC features revised instructions for handling and replacing receptacles. For example, the new code advises electricians and maintenance workers to use replacement fixtures labeled with “controlled,” in addition to an on-off symbol. Receptacles without these markings are considered out of date and should be swapped for new compliant models. Additionally, those installed near common electrical hazards such as kitchen sinks should have ground fault circuit interrupter protection. Workers can skip this step if fixtures are located in non-dwelling rooms and six feet or more removed from hazardous features.
Rooftop Cables and Conduits
Workers who regularly install rooftop cables and conduits must grapple with a variety of changes. The NFPA has discontinued the Rooftop Addler Table, which was previously used to determine ampacity calculations. Now, as long as raceways are at least seven-eighths of an inch off the rooftop, there is no need for larger conductors. Previously, many technicians had been forced to run more expensive wiring to elevate conduits to proper heights.
The document includes new wiring requirements for rooftop heating, ventilation and air-conditioning units as well. These amendments were added to address a recent spate of on-the-job fatalities involving such devices.
The 2017 NEC includes several grounding-related changes, according to the International Association of Electrical Inspectors. Workers can now install grounded electrodes without following a specific order of preference, a practice required under the previous edition of the NEC. The latest guidelines also provide a more explicit definition of a grounding electrode. Technicians struggled with explanations in previous iterations of the NEC.
Additionally, the document includes similarly conclusive language addressing structures and materials that are not permitted for use as grounding electrodes. This particular amendment is aimed those who work in or around in-ground swimming pools. The NFPA had observed technicians employing metal pool decking as grounding electrodes, a problematic practice that can make such aquatic fixtures targets for stray currents.
Outlets and Wall Sensors
Technicians installing ceiling-mounted paddle fans or lights now have access to a list of approved support and suspension technologies. The 2017 NEC also includes suggested locking support and mounting receptacles. Workers can find new guidance on wall-mounted light sensors as well. These fixtures must include grounded conductors and be powered on at all times, according to the NFPA. However, technicians can wait until 2020 to incorporate these guidelines into their workflows, as manufacturers have been given a three-year window to catch up and produce compliant sensor technology.