When remodeling your kitchen or bath, you may encounter some electrical needs, especially if you’re updating. Today’s kitchen remodeling projects require more than a DIY attitude. They require the appropriate permits for everything from building to electrical and plumbing. That’s why it’s best to hire an experienced contractor who will know what’s necessary every step of the way. If rewiring is required, the contractor will know that the entire area must be updated to meet today’s building code requirements. Don’t try to do electrical work yourself unless you are a professional and/or have experience in electrical wiring. It’s just plain too dangerous. In addition, if there is a fire due to faulty wiring, you may have no recourse. Hire a contractor with an electrician who knows what to do.
You should also know that today’s electrical code standards require a dedicated 20 amp GFCI circuit in a bath and two in a kitchen. GFCI stands for “Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter,” and this protects you from electrical shock. The GFCI outlets detect any electrical leakage or break in current and automatically shut down the power. We’ve all had that experience of plugging in the hair dryer in the bathroom and having it shut off automatically because someone in the kitchen also plugged in the toaster. That’s because older homes have just one 15-amp GFCI circuit for the entire home and exterior, and the GFCI outlet gets overloaded.
A dedicated 20 amp GFCI carries more amps of power, requiring a new home run of thicker wire. (“Home run” means that one dedicated wire goes all the way to the electrical box.) Each appliance must have its own individual home run. This includes refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave and stove. In addition, building code requires any counter that is at least 12 inches wide to have an outlet. The number of outlets depends on the length of the counter – there must be one outlet within the first two feet of the end of the counter, then outlets every four feet after that. A minimum of one plug is required for a kitchen island. You may want more for small appliances, lighting, or décor. Plan the electrical outlets with your contractor and electrician. It’s no small task and shouldn’t be left to the last minute or to amateurs.