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Old May 6, 2013, 01:37 PM   #1
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Kitchen Remodel

Any electricians around? I'm doing this remodel myself. I used to work as an electrician for summer jobs while going to school, so I know enough to do most house wiring.

My question: We are moving a cooktop from an island to an exterior wall of the kitchen. The spot where we want it, has some wall switches that control a light and garbage disposal. Is it within code to keep these switches on the wall behind or close proximity to the cooktop? I'm thinking about moving them, but I'd like to know if leaving them would be a violation of code. I know it may depend on where you live and the local code, but thought I'd ask. I'm in Houston, Texas.

Thanks!
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Old May 6, 2013, 01:40 PM   #2
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I don't know about about code, but I don't think its a good idea to leave them there. Seems like you may injure yourself if the the stove is on and you're cooking - you go to reach for those switches you may burn yourself.

Call your building inspector and ask him.
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Old May 6, 2013, 01:44 PM   #3
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You should mention your state, at least. If you know it varies then you know the answer can't be exact.

As far as switches go, regardless of state, code does require insulation to be in tact around the wiring. You will have to ensure that at a minimum. As for the rest, I would call your building inspector. In LA County I know the relocation of an oven and sink required an inspection.
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Old May 6, 2013, 01:59 PM   #4
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I don't know about about code, but I don't think its a good idea to leave them there. Seems like you may injure yourself if the the stove is on and you're cooking - you go to reach for those switches you may burn yourself.

Call your building inspector and ask him.
Excellent idea, one I've done before, but I'm new to the area and have not figured who to call yet. As far as burning myself, that's what was bothering me. Funny I did not think about it until now, hence the post.

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You should mention your state, at least. If you know it varies then you know the answer can't be exact.

As far as switches go, regardless of state, code does require insulation to be in tact around the wiring. You will have to ensure that at a minimum. As for the rest, I would call your building inspector. In LA County I know the relocation of an oven and sink required an inspection.
Updated original post. I'm in Houston, Texas. Had a gas line put in for the new location of the cook top and had that inspected. I was thinking it's not the best place for them (the wall switches), but ultimately it's the code issue I'm curious about. You mentioned 'required inspection', I wonder about the attitudes around here. The plumber I called, I asked if an inspection of the new gas line was required and he said "naw". Ha! I insisted on an inspection for that, and the city did inspect.
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Old Jun 24, 2013, 12:33 PM   #5
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Many kitchens once had built-in nooks for the phone, mixer, even waxed paper and foil dispensers. Most mistakes are always foreseen after renovation, and most of it are putting necessary tubing, cabling and other pipes behind every walls or ceiling.
Hopefully I have that covered. What I've done electrically to the kitchen is minimal, but for peace of mind I've decided to get it inspected. I'll see if I can scrounge up some pics...
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Old Jun 24, 2013, 05:29 PM   #6
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Call your building inspector and ask him.
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Excellent idea
Might not be an excellent idea. You'll be alerting him to the fact that you're remodeling, and he'll want to know (and presumably see) all your permits, schedule you for an inspection, etc. You DID get a permit and hire a licensed contractor for this work, right?

I checked NEC 2011 (adopted by Texas, not sure whether Houston has any amendments) and surprisingly, I could find nothing in there addressing this one way or another.

That being said, let me say as an MEP engineer this is not a good idea. My recommendation would be to move it 12" to the side of the cooktop. Reaching over the top of a heat source - not to mention possibly hot food, pots, etc. - to turn off a shorted-out light or kill a motor under the sink just reeks of safety hazard to me. Not to mention, the amount of steam, grease, etc. the switches would be exposed to might very well shorten their lives.
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Old Jun 25, 2013, 11:23 PM   #7
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Don't disposals require their own circuit. I would say move the switch to under the sink in the cabinet.
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Old Jun 26, 2013, 08:50 AM   #8
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Might not be an excellent idea. You'll be alerting him to the fact that you're remodeling, and he'll want to know (and presumably see) all your permits, schedule you for an inspection, etc. You DID get a permit and hire a licensed contractor for this work, right?

I checked NEC 2011 (adopted by Texas, not sure whether Houston has any amendments) and surprisingly, I could find nothing in there addressing this one way or another.

That being said, let me say as an MEP engineer this is not a good idea. My recommendation would be to move it 12" to the side of the cooktop. Reaching over the top of a heat source - not to mention possibly hot food, pots, etc. - to turn off a shorted-out light or kill a motor under the sink just reeks of safety hazard to me. Not to mention, the amount of steam, grease, etc. the switches would be exposed to might very well shorten their lives.
I had an electrical contractor come out and give me a quote, considering I had done all the work and he's charging me $400 for 3 visits plus the permit which is about $100. That's reasonable and gives me peace of mind. That is especially why I had the gas inspected. If the house blows up a week after having the work done, I don't want there to be any questions (if I'm still alive ) about doing my own work because insurance companies can refuse to pay your claim.

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Don't disposals require their own circuit. I would say move the switch to under the sink in the cabinet.
Disposals do need their own circuit and that will be maintained.
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Old Jun 26, 2013, 01:30 PM   #9
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Might not be an excellent idea. You'll be alerting him to the fact that you're remodeling, and he'll want to know (and presumably see) all your permits, schedule you for an inspection, etc. You DID get a permit and hire a licensed contractor for this work, right?.
If the OP pulled a permit (or his contractor did) then the building inspector is already alerted to the remodel. The permits are in place to make sure the renovations are up to code and safe, so having the building inspector involved is not a bad idea imo.
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Old Jun 26, 2013, 02:44 PM   #10
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If the OP pulled a permit (or his contractor did) then the building inspector is already alerted to the remodel. The permits are in place to make sure the renovations are up to code and safe, so having the building inspector involved is not a bad idea imo.
I understand the point of a permit. In the OP, he states that he's doing the work himself. That alone is reason to wonder if there's a permit, plus in Texas you typically have to hire a licensed electrician to do this type of work.

The other ramification behind having the work permitted and inspected is that the tax assessor very often increases the value of your home after such an improvement.
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Old Jun 28, 2013, 03:41 PM   #11
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I understand the point of a permit. In the OP, he states that he's doing the work himself. That alone is reason to wonder if there's a permit, plus in Texas you typically have to hire a licensed electrician to do this type of work.

The other ramification behind having the work permitted and inspected is that the tax assessor very often increases the value of your home after such an improvement.
Is a kitchen remodel considered an improvement? I don't see changing the style of cabinets as something that increases the tax base of a house, but ya never know... Hmmm.
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Old Jun 28, 2013, 03:46 PM   #12
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Is a kitchen remodel considered an improvement? I don't see changing the style of cabinets as something that increases the tax base of a house, but ya never know... Hmmm.
I would think so. Depends on how the tax assessor views it, I guess.

Think of it this way - how many people remodel their home to lower the value?
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Old Jun 28, 2013, 03:52 PM   #13
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I would think so. Depends on how the tax assessor views it, I guess.

Think of it this way - how many people remodel their home to lower the value?
Property value is a tricky thing when municipalities are trying to collect operating funds. Our house was purchased 4 years ago for $145k (2300sf rambler), added a pool, and they've tried to increase the value to $195k although the house across the street is a larger 2 story, with a pool and is valued at $180. On a square footage and lot size comparison, our house should be no more than $155.
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 07:10 AM   #14
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I did a complete remodel of my kitchen last year but simply replaced everything and kept the same layout. I upgraded all the gas and electrical and was told that having my switch box in my laundry room was nolonger code but since that was it's original spot I could get away with it. I live in Georgia and my ranch is 30 years old. I think any electrician would know if it was up to code in your area. You could ask around saying you were getting estimates for some work.
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 08:58 AM   #15
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I did a complete remodel of my kitchen last year but simply replaced everything and kept the same layout. I upgraded all the gas and electrical and was told that having my switch box in my laundry room was nolonger code but since that was it's original spot I could get away with it. I live in Georgia and my ranch is 30 years old. I think any electrician would know if it was up to code in your area. You could ask around saying you were getting estimates for some work.
I brought an electrician in and got a permit. Since moving to the Houston area, this is the first place I've lived with such a cavalier attitude about inspections coming from contractors. Do I need a permit for this? Oh, no. Except I did and for peace of mind, I insisted upon one.

I wonder what changes makes a 30 year old switch box no longer to code? I have a house built in the 1980's and all of the original boxes are plastic. Got a couple of new ones for this project and really don't see a difference.
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 09:00 AM   #16
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The first and last time a contractor told me no inspection was needed he was dropped and a new one was brought in. An inspection was needed and in my case, wanted. If the inspection was done the first time I would not have had a $3,000.00 issue come up less than 6 months after buying a home.

I will always call the city to ask about the inspections before I take the word of a contractor.
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 09:09 AM   #17
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The first and last time a contractor told me no inspection was needed he was dropped and a new one was brought in. An inspection was needed and in my case, wanted. If the inspection was done the first time I would not have had a $3,000.00 issue come up less than 6 months after buying a home.

I will always call the city to ask about the inspections before I take the word of a contractor.
This might be an unlikely scenario, but you never know, if a homeowner does his own work and does not get an inspections (where one is required) and several months later the house burns down and an investigation reveals this, the insurance company may not cover the homeowner's claim. At least this is my impression. I want the insurance a permit represents.
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 09:44 AM   #18
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I wonder what changes makes a 30 year old switch box no longer to code? I have a house built in the 1980's and all of the original boxes are plastic. Got a couple of new ones for this project and really don't see a difference.
Typically if something is built to comply with code at the time of construction, it's grandfathered unless you make some significant changes later. So unless you plan to change it, or it's giving you problems or posing some kind of safety risk, there's no need to upgrade it just to match newer codes.

In your case, it's not the switch box itself that caused the potential issue, it's the cooktop which is now underneath it. That makes it worth looking into, IMO.

Last I heard, plastic wall boxes are still OK, particularly in residential use. My house (2006) is full of them.
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 09:52 AM   #19
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Here's an idea for relocating the garbage disposal switch that I've considered doing myself. An air switch:

http://www.faucetdepot.com/prod/West...eel-144680.asp

You mount the 'switch' right beside the sink which, IMO, is where it belongs. No electrical either, for safety.
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 10:17 AM   #20
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Typically if something is built to comply with code at the time of construction, it's grandfathered unless you make some significant changes later. So unless you plan to change it, or it's giving you problems or posing some kind of safety risk, there's no need to upgrade it just to match newer codes.

In your case, it's not the switch box itself that caused the potential issue, it's the cooktop which is now underneath it. That makes it worth looking into, IMO.

Last I heard, plastic wall boxes are still OK, particularly in residential use. My house (2006) is full of them.
Understood about the grandfathering. Was just trying to figure out the comment about the "switchbox in the laundry room no longer to code" could mean the swichbox did not meet code or it's location did not meet code? My initial assumption was that the box it self no longer met code, which puzzled me.

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Here's an idea for relocating the garbage disposal switch that I've considered doing myself. An air switch:

http://www.faucetdepot.com/prod/West...eel-144680.asp

You mount the 'switch' right beside the sink which, IMO, is where it belongs. No electrical either, for safety.
How does an air switch work me wonders? And why is that better than having an electrical switch? I assume an electrical on/off switch is still needed somewhere.
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 10:38 AM   #21
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How does an air switch work me wonders? And why is that better than having an electrical switch? I assume an electrical on/off switch is still needed somewhere.
Here's another model with a brochure that will explain. Nice diagram too. http://www.insinkerator.com/en-us/Do...h_brochure.pdf

Basically the switch is right on the sink - beside the faucet for convenience. The switch is really just a plunger/piston type thing. Think of two hypodermic syringes connected by some aquarium air-line tubing. Push one plunger down and air pressure pushes the other one up. Put an electrical microswitch within its reach, and it's triggered.

I like the safety aspect, because all the electrical gubbins are well away from where you'd be touching the switch (likely with wet hands if your as careless as me!).
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 10:51 AM   #22
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Here's another model with a brochure that will explain. Nice diagram too. http://www.insinkerator.com/en-us/Do...h_brochure.pdf

Basically the switch is right on the sink - beside the faucet for convenience. The switch is really just a plunger/piston type thing. Think of two hypodermic syringes connected by some aquarium air-line tubing. Push one plunger down and air pressure pushes the other one up. Put an electrical microswitch within its reach, and it's triggered.

I like the safety aspect, because all the electrical gubbins are well away from where you'd be touching the switch (likely with wet hands if your as careless as me!).
Thanks for the info! However, switches and switch plates are constructed so that you hands can be wet and should not result in a short or shock if touched.
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 10:59 AM   #23
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Thanks for the info! However, switches and switch plates are constructed so that you hands can be wet and should not result in a short or shock if touched.
True, but if you've been boiling a steamy pot of pasta on the back ring for the last 15 minutes, the switch could be saturated.

Admittedly not such a big issue with US voltages. That said, I spent most of my life (and two kitchen remodels) with 240V which can be 'livelier'
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 11:08 AM   #24
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True, but if you've been boiling a steamy pot of pasta on the back ring for the last 15 minutes, the switch could be saturated.

Admittedly not such a big issue with US voltages. That said, I spent most of my life (and two kitchen remodels) with 240V which can be 'livelier'
240V garbage disposals? As far as boiling water, in my kitchen remodel, we moved the cooktop from the island to a wall where there were switches. These switches were relocated for precisely this reason, however I'm not sure what code says about switch placement in the vicinity of a stove or cooktop.
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Old Jul 8, 2013, 11:09 AM   #25
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240V garbage disposals?
UK. 240V everything!
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