View Full Version : Access to building codes, electrical codes etc.

Stephen Tashiro
05-16-2018, 10:56 AM
Are the various codes for constructing and remodeling houses public documents? Are they available for free onlnie?

For example, adherence to the NM electrical code ( ) presumably is required by various NM laws, but it appears to be a collection of references to a national electrical code, and I haven't found any online copy of a national code. (I have found offers to purchase it.)

At the moment, my particular question is whether receptacles marked AL/CO are acceptable for use with aluminum wire installed in a house (built in 1964). Various web pages say replacement receptacles should be marked CO/ALR or COLAR, which is a different designation than AL/CO or CO/AL. I understand the material on those websites, but I'm curious what the official electrical code requires.

Lee Schierer
05-16-2018, 4:56 PM
I believe most of the codes (electrical, Building) need to be purchased to get the complete code.

John C Cox
05-16-2018, 6:13 PM
The least expensive option you have available currently is to give your electrician buddy through men's organization/rotary/Kiwanis/church/Vets/etc a call....

That guy should know the answer as part of his job...

John K Jordan
05-16-2018, 6:29 PM
The local electrical and building inspectors should be able to answer any questions. Some are more helpful than others.


James Pallas
05-16-2018, 6:33 PM
Your local library may have copies of the codes. The issue is that communities can make some changes to the code to suit local conditions. These may also be available at the local library. I suggest that you look up aluminum wire on the net. There are some specific fixes for aluminum wiring to devices. I'm not up on current fixes but the most common one in the past was pig tailing with copper wire a specific type of wire nut and a sealing compound in the nut. The big problem was expansion rate of aluminum wire caused the screws to become loose if not tightened correctly or the wire becoming loose in the push in connectors. Be sure you do it right. Aluminum wiring caused many house fires.

Charlie Hinton
05-16-2018, 8:29 PM
You will have to make an account and you cannot print it or save it, but public access to the national electrical code online is free.

Marc Jeske
05-17-2018, 1:57 AM
Direct link to Code free access -


Tim Hoyt
05-17-2018, 9:10 AM
I was a Building inspector years ago. So maybe I can pass on some useful info.
Building codes are very expensive to develop. The way most of the money is recovered from development is to sell very expensive code books or internet packages offering access. Things kinda worked ok for a number of years with only minor grumbling about lack of access to the codes without spending a fortune. There have been several court cases that basically said if building codes are the "law", then they should be easily and readily available to all. Then all the lawyers showed up...
Supposedly the codes are available for review somewhere on the web. But it doesn't have to be easy... and it ain't. It's a mess and I don't see a good solution.
Others have mentioned contacting the code officials with your questions, that's a good idea. Hopefully you get respectful and responsive answers, some places/people are better than others.
As far as local amendments go; the local government wrote the amendments, they "own" the "copyright" (if there truly is a copyright, I am not sure). They should be readily available on the internet.
How the heck can someone be expected to comply with the law, if the can't figure out what the law is.....
Of course you will not see a lot of opposition to the current system put up by people/organizations the have already purchased the expensive library. That's why you might be told to get your answers from a architect, engineer or a designer. They would like to get a consulting fee to help pay for the books.
Ya gotta love it. Sorry I don't have any solutions.

Brad Adams
05-17-2018, 11:03 PM
There are a group of lawyers trying to make all the codes public. They should be. If we have to follow them they should be public. Go to law.resource.org , you can view most of the different codes. You just canít print them.

Kev Williams
05-19-2018, 12:25 AM
I sometimes wonder why it matters-- a few years ago I googled 'romex wiring code', and up came an electricians version of Sawmill Creek. So I asked this question (or thereabouts): I need to run some #14 romex from a subpanel in a garage, to the other side of the garage, 2 walls and the ceiling of which are sheetrocked, the rest is brick, what's legal to get the wire from point A to point B-

I never seen so many different 'professional opinions' about such a simple task in my life. Very few if any of the responders agreed with with other responders, and there were quite a few. Worse than a political debate!
you have to run conduit
no, you can't run conduit, it must be behind a wall
it can be run in conduit, but it can't be plastic
no it can't be metal conduit
It can be any conduit if it's trenched in the sheetrock
if it's trenched, it don't need conduit
yes it does
it can just be stapled to the sheetrock using the 4' rule
no it can't it must be protected
yes it can depending on where it runs
only if you use underground romex
no you can use regular....

--and it just went on... All these guys came across as licensed electricians, and none would agree on anything. I also once asked about wiring up a boat dock, wow- hard to believe there can be so many wrong ways to ground a boat dock...

And then there was the time we were on vacation in the motorhome, just got all settled in and suddenly we lost the AC- but the microwave and coffee pot were still working- I stuck my Fluke into the outlets on the power post and found one dead leg. Checked a couple of other posts, same thing. About 10pm a big power truck shows up, and with his helper below, the main guy scales the nearby power pole, and once he got to the top, "Bob" got called every nasty name in the 'what to call an inept electrician' book. I took for granted Bob must have been who wired it up first, and this guy was not happy about how he did it :D

So- who, or what, to believe when it comes to electrical code?