Electrical Code


I am continually amazed at what state government gets involved in. Last year it was the Plumbing Code that became a big fight. This year we had electricians.

In Commerce and Human Resources Committee this year we had the update of the Electrical Code. We got cross wise on Arc Fault Interrupters. These new protectors interrupt a circuit if they sense an arc. This is different from GFI (Ground Fault Interrupters) that are in the bathroom or kitchen. Arc fault interrupter wired circuits are supposed to detect arcing and thus reduce a fire hazard. D

But we had testimony against requiring these in the code. There were electricians at the committee who argued they added too much to the cost of the house. And we needed to help out home builders any chance we got.

I called the electrician I use in Moscow. He’d just put in a new service for me so I had his number in my phone.

“Mark, what can you tell me about arc fault interrupters?”

“Doc, you don’t want them in that old house do you?”

“No, it has to do with the new code we’re looking at for Idaho.”

He went on to tell me the problems he’d had getting them to not trip incorrectly. It seems some of the breakers are very sensitive and trip when you run the vacuum cleaner. He’d even talked with the State inspector who told him that maybe he should tell the home owner to run an extension cord from another room when he was vacuuming.

We voted down adding these to Idaho code. But I think we’ll be requiring them someday. It’s like all the new tests that come out in medicine. We can do a lot but sometimes we find things that we can’t really tell the patient what they mean. I didn’t rush into the newest technology, either with new tests or the new drugs that came out. Maybe that means I’m conservative.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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