Peter McCarthy Electric Co., Inc. - Specializing in Older Buildings in Chicago
Adventures in Old House Wiring....

The Code.

Is it "up to code?"

"That's against code!!"

"What does the code book  say about it?'

This is the book that governs every aspect of the electrical trade in Chicago. I consider it the bible of my industry. It spells out all the practices, procedures, materials, rules and regulations, and limitations to what electricians can and can not do in wiring and  rewiring,  Do you need a GFCI outlet in the bathroom? (Yes) Are fuses still legal? (Yes) When is a 200 Amp Service required? (Depends) Can you use BX in Chicago? (yes, under certain conditions.)  What is an AFCI? (Arc-fault circuit interrupter) How many straps do you have to put on a piece of pipe? (Heavy wall, thinwall, IMC?) How many wires can you put in a conduit? (Varies greatly) Does the insulation type matter? (Yes) Does the average load on that wire matter? (Yes) Do you need to follow a specific formula to de-rate conductors according to size, ambient temperature and insulation type? (Yes) What is considered a fire hazard? When is a permit required? Does low voltage wiring for puck lites, doorbell or intercom need to be in pipe? How deep do you have to bury a conduit that goes in the earth for an underground 220 line?

A lot of guys out there know the code backwards and forwards. Unfortunately, a lot more don't. The Chicago Electrical code is a dense, technical, legalistic, arcane and foreboding document in many ways. I have spent 30 years, off and on, studying it, from my code class as a first year apprentice at Washburne Trade School to poring over it last week to write a compliance inspection report. It is not easy to read or understand. It takes several years, in my opinion, to really understand it. When you get into the "Chapter 27, Article 430, Section  .51-.58, Part D, Subsections a,b,c notwithstanding exception 2, (a-d)"  it can read like the congressional record.  I try to bring my experience and understanding of the code to all of the jobs I work on. Does your electrician? At this stage in my career, I am pretty confident in my grasp of the Chicago Electrical code. I shy away from situations that start with "Well, the other electrician said it was not against the code." I don't need to be the know-it-all. (That always blows up in your face, anyway....) I just hand them the book, and say "Show me."
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