Ensuring a home adheres to electrical codes and regulations

October 24, 2014

Electrical codes and regulations are governed by the Canadian Electrical Code. Here's a brief overview of those codes, and instructions about how to make sure your home is in compliance.

Ensuring a home adheres to electrical codes and regulations

The Canadian Electrical Code

The Canadian Electrical Code is a lengthy document, updated every three years, which goes over many highly technical scenarios.

  • It's maintained by the Canadian Standards Association, which is a national-level organization.
  • Keep in mind that there may be additional codes and regulations at the provincial and municipal level, as well.
  • Your local government may be enforcing an old version of the document.
  • If you have any questions about the document or your local regulations, or if you want to order a copy, contact your local government, an electrician or other professional, or the Canadian Standards Association.

Grounded and ungrounded outlets

An ungrounded outlet, or NEMA-1 outlet, has two prongs.

  • Since 1974, the government has required all new outlets to be grounded, although older outlets have been grandfathered in.
  • Many appliances that have two-prong plugs are still available.
  • Grounded outlets, called NEMA-5 outlets or three-prong outlets (with a "grounding pin" as the third prong), are now standard throughout Canada due to their decreased risk of causing fires or electrocution.

Tamper-resistant sockets

All new outlets in Canada (since 2009) must be tamper resistant.

  • Tamper-resistant devices incorporate a spring mechanism that makes it much more difficult to electrocute oneself by inserting paper clips, knives or other foreign metal objects into the socket. (Keep in mind that they aren't completely safe, and can still be defeated by a sufficiently determined person.)
  • These mandated mechanisms are not to be mistaken for outlets with plastic protective caps, or sliding covers, which are easily defeated by children.


Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) and Appliance Leakage Current Interrupters (ALCIs) are outlets that shut off the outlet's electricity if they sense an abnormal, imbalanced electrical flow.

  • These outlet types do not need to be grounded due to their added safety.
  • GFCIs or ALCIs are mandatory for bathrooms, whirlpools, swimming pools and outdoors.

Hire a professional

Your best bet is to hire an electrician to inspect your home.

  • These professionals are specially trained to keep abreast of electrical codes and regulations, including recently changed and local ones, and will be able to tell you if your home needs work to get up to code.

*Not only is it dangerous, it may even be illegal in some provinces, such as Québec, to do your own electrical wiring. The solution: consider hiring a master electrician.

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