Hot Spots! Safe Home Renovation Tips
Renovations aren’t just about choosing the right paint, furniture and surfaces. Many of today’s design trends have hidden electrical considerations, and the Electrical Safety Authority has some great tips to help you plan safe home upgrades. Whether you’re choosing a new light fixture or deciding whether to install in-floor heating for your new tiles, it’s important to know how to get today’s most coveted design looks safely and up to code. The first step is to hire only a licensed electrical contractor for electrical work — it’s the law in Ontario. Find a licensed electrical contractor online and get advice in the early planning stages — before you start renovating. Most electrical work requires a permit from the Electrical Safety Authority — not the same as a building permit — and be sure to ask for an ESA Certificate of Inspection when the electrical work is complete.
Want more advice? Learn four ways to make your home smarter, four ways to turn your bedroom into a retreat, three tips for a dream backyard, four ways to boost your bathroom style, and five ways to warm up your basement reno. Plus, watch our video with Kimberley Brown and Joel Bray for more kitchen and bath safety tips.
Use a smartphone and smart speakers to control a sound system or thermostat, or even to see who’s ringing the video doorbell. Many smart gadgets available online may not be approved for use in Canada, so visit esasafe.com for a list of recognized safety certification marks to look for before buying.
Investing in a glamorous bedroom retreat? Plan your electrical needs first to maximize comfort and avoid costly changes later on. Before you install a dramatic headboard, work with your LEC to place lighting and outlets in the right spots. Note that all 120 volt 15 or 20 amp outlets should be on a circuit protected by an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter to reduce fire risk. Dimmer switches create ambience. LED lighting can be a bit trickier to dim, so talk to your LEC about your best options prior to having the drywall installed.
Add warmth with a gas fireplace — just don’t forget to include an outlet in your electrical plan to accommodate power controls like an ignition transformer, thermostat or fan. In-floor heating can go under wood, but needs to be installed by an LEC. This, like most electrical work in your home, requires a permit from the Electrical Safety Authority, which is different from a building permit.
Transform your backyard into an outdoor retreat! Add ambience with pendant lights or a fan, which may require a specially approved junction box for additional support. Extend the season with space heaters and an outdoor television. For these and all outdoor electrical, use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles to avoid shocks, with an “Extra Duty” cover plate if exposed to weather.
Considering a pool, hot tub or decorative pond? Proper grounding and bonding is essential for all electrical that powers pool and water feature equipment, as well as for metal objects within 1.5 metres of the pool. Also, call 1-800-400-2255 or visit on1call.com before you dig to locate and avoid hitting underground wires.
Only hire a Licensed Electrical Contractor to do electrical work outdoors and in — it’s the law in Ontario. Find one at findacontractor.esasafe.com before you plan, and ensure that all electrical materials used are rated for outdoor use to withstand the elements.
Design your next kitchen around a gorgeous island — just make sure it can safely house what you need. Opt for statement lighting above the island. You may need to relocate or add junction boxes for new fixtures. Tuck a microwave into the island rather than up high, so it’s easier for kids to use. This requires a dedicated outlet on a separate circuit and arc fault protection. If you love to entertain, consider a second dishwasher in the island to make clean up faster. Be sure to have another dedicated outlet since they draw lots of power. Peninsulas and fixed islands need outlets and wiring in the cabinet structure, so review your plan with your Licensed Electrical Contractor early in the design process. Get more tips in this video.
Boost the style quotient of your bathroom with graphic tile and statement lighting. Add drama with a sculptural sconce, placed at least 30 cm away from cupboards, shelving or anything flammable. Outlets within cabinetry require an interlocking switch that shuts off power to the outlet when the door closes to prevent overheating or fire.
Liven up floors with on-trend tile warmed by in-floor heating installed to Ontario Electrical Safety Code standards. The wall thermostat has to be at least one metre away from a bathtub or shower stall, or be GFCI-protected if within one metre. It can never be less than 50 cm away. Buy shower lights and exhaust fans that are suitable for the location. Find out more at poweryourlife.ca.
Amp up your cosy basement renovation plans! Discuss your entertainment system needs early, as some equipment requires additional amps. Be sure to keep electrical cables and speaker wires at least 25 mm away from heating ducts or pipes. Dreaming of a gas fireplace? Choose the unit before wiring, as it may require an outlet for power controls such as the ignition transformer, thermostat and fan. Love in-floor heating? Installation requirements vary, so give all manufacturer materials to your licensed electrical contractor. Get more tips at poweryourlife.ca.
This cozy family basement features a spacious sectional and a large TV for the ultimate media room. When installing wired wall-mounted surround sound speakers, check whether you need any new outlets. New receptacles require a permit from the Electrical Safety Authority. When it comes to pot lights, ensure you use the right kind — there are ones for use in ceilings that have insulation (including soundproofing) and ones that don’t. Learn more at poweryourlife.ca.
Rustic wood, sparkling pendants and modern fixtures blend beautifully in this modern country kitchen. If you’re planning a similar look, keep these considerations in mind: along your kitchen backsplash, there must be an electrical outlet within 90 cm of any given point. That’s about the average length of a small appliance cord. Layered lighting is key in the kitchen. Pendants and pot lights need to be a minimum of 30 cm and 15 cm, respectively, from anything that could catch fire — including upper cabinets and shelving. Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlets are also required within 1.5 m of any sink to prevent electric shocks from water.
More and more homeowners are creating pantry areas complete with a beverage or wine refrigerator. Just remember that all major appliances require a dedicated outlet, and smaller ones may have specific electrical requirements. Providing manufacturer materials to your licensed electrical contractor in advance can save time and money. Get more tips at poweryourlife.ca.
The latest bathroom designs often feature graphic tile, as well as distinct shower and bath zones. Whether you prefer modern or traditional bathroom decor, electrical safety rules apply. For instance, shower lighting and exhaust fans must be approved for wet locations. Be aware and look for CSA or UL certification marks. If you’re thinking about a steam shower or jetted tub, talk to your licensed electrical contractor to see if there are special power requirements. Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are needed within 1.5 m of any sink, shower or bathtub to prevent electric shocks from water.
With a washer and dryer on the other side of the vanity, this bathroom does double duty. Laundry or no laundry, consider a dedicated circuit for your bathroom to avoid electrical strain on other areas of your home. Large wood folding doors hide away the appliances when not in use for a sleek, streamlined look. Open shelving above the appliances provides ample storage for cleaning supplies. Visit poweryourlife.ca for more safe home reno tips.
Beneath these graphic black and white floor tiles, in-floor heating easily warms up the bathroom thanks to a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat. Whoever is doing the installation — you or a licensed electrical contractor — needs to take out an electrical permit. This prompts a review process with the Electrical Safety Authority, which is an added safeguard for you and your family. Contact ESA’s Customer Service Centre at 1-877-ESA-SAFE to take out a permit or for more information about the permit and inspection process.
A shaggy rug, ottoman and slipcovered armchair make this nursery ideal for a little one. Go for a similar look with safety in mind. Ensure Tamper Resistant (TR) receptacles are used throughout your home to help prevent a burn or shock from kids sticking their fingers or objects into an outlet. The only time these aren’t required is if the outlet is out of reach, like the ones behind a washing machine or other large appliance, or those more than two metres above the floor. However, the Electrical Safety Authority recommends you put them everywhere in your home to be safe.
Installing a new pool in your backyard? Have all wiring for your pool and pool shed done by a licensed electrical contractor. Professional installation and a review by the Electrical Safety Authority are needed to ensure pools have enough clearance from underground wires, among other requirements. All outdoor outlets should be equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) and have weatherproof covers to protect the outlet from the elements.
Outdoor downlights emphasize the clean lines and indoor-outdoor aesthetic of the rear façade. Step and landscape lighting add ambience but may need special transformers — talk to your licensed electrical contractor. Proper grounding and bonding is essential for all electrical that powers pool equipment, as well as for metal objects within 1.5 metres of the pool. Call 1-800-400-2255 or visit on1call.com before you dig to locate and avoid hitting underground wires, gas lines and water or waste-water pipes.
Turn extra space in a garage into an inviting workspace. This detached garage features overhead lighting and plug-in lamps, in addition to cabinets, tables and shelves, to make it usable throughout the day. When outdoors, ensure you plug into Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)-protected electrical outlets. Use only those extension cords rated for outdoor use, as they are designed to resist outdoor wear and conditions, and for electric power tools, be sure to use a heavy duty extension cord. Visit poweryourlife.ca for more reno tips.