GFCI and sump pump = bad idea?

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  #1  
Old 02-23-06, 11:23 PM
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GFCI and sump pump = bad idea?

I read in another thread and someone said they had their sump pump on a GFCI recepticle and they came home with 8 inches of water in the basement. All because the GFCI tripped (it didn't say why it tripped).

My sump pump just failed recently and I had to replace with a 1/3hp and at the same time I installed a GFCI (20 amp) because it suggested to use one in the manual.

Should I take the GFCI off? I believe the recepticle is the only one in the circuit.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-24-06, 12:32 AM
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> All because the GFCI tripped (it didn't say why it tripped).

Sometimes we have no idea.

It could have tripped weeks earlier.
It could have tripped from the storm that brought the floodwaters.


> Should I take the GFCI off?
Personally, I would. The receptacle should be properly grounded.


A GFCI means that the pump might not work when you need it most.
A wet basement floor is much more hazardous than a sump pump that is not GFCI protected.
A new sump pump poses pretty much zero risk of shock.


If ever your basement floor is wet, I hope you realize that you should not walk on it in any manner that exposes your skin to the water. Put on rubber hip waders first, don't let your hands get wet.
Wear new, dry leather gloves. Shut off your whole panel before you touch anything else.
 
  #3  
Old 02-24-06, 07:23 AM
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ZimmerDN - I'm the guy with the 8" of water in the basement. The GFI tripped randomly as GFIs sometimes do. I am still using that GFI in my shop and it is fine. The consequences of a failed sump far outweigh any added safety provided by a GFI. In my case it was very expensive including loss of a freezer and all its contents. I would never do pump maintenance w/o disconnecting the pump first anyway. I replaced the GFI with a simplex outlet. Incidentally, I had installed the GFI a couple of years ago when I updated my basement wiring. I replaced a simplex outlet with the GFI.
Bolide is absolutely correct when he suggests taking precautions before entering a flooded basement. I was dumb enough to step off the basement stairs into the water in work boots - guess where my rubber boots were? I received a moderate shock as soon as my foot hit the water. The source of the shock was a partialy submerged well pump regulator. The circuit breaker for that branch did not open.
 
  #4  
Old 02-24-06, 08:31 AM
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Great story, Wayne. I'm glad you lived to tell about it.

Water isn't real likely to be conductive enough to open a breaker - that takes more than 15A.
But 0.15A is enough to kill almost anyone.

Sump pumps are made to get wet. Some styles are made to be completely submerged.
I don't see how these pose a shock hazard in normal use.

As you found out, a wet basement is a shock hazard. It's better that the pump runs.
 
  #5  
Old 02-26-06, 09:36 AM
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What's a simplex outlet? Does it offer anything different then a regular recepticle? What are the requirements for using? ie. only recepticle/plug in the circuit?
 
  #6  
Old 02-26-06, 10:40 AM
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What's a simplex outlet?
It has just one place to plug in.

> Does it offer anything different than a duplex receptacle?
Yes. It won't let you plug in two things side by side.


>What are the requirements for using?
You are required to use it on a circuit dedicated to exactly one cord-and-plug connected appliance to show that nothing else will be plugged in to the same circuit.



> ie. only receptacle/plug in the circuit?
Of course, you may use them pretty much anywhere that you could use a duplex receptacle.
 
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Old 02-26-06, 10:40 AM
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Zimmer - Most outlets are duplex. They have two receptacles. A simplex outlet has only one receptacle. This prevents the outlet from being used by a device other than the exempted one.
 
  #8  
Old 02-28-06, 10:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Wayne Mitchell
Zimmer - Most outlets are duplex. They have two receptacles. A simplex outlet has only one receptacle. This prevents the outlet from being used by a device other than the exempted one.
What's the matter with the sump outlet being used with another device?

I just realized the sump and my washer is on the same circuit. Could this be a bad combo? My sump pump is 1/3 amp.
 
  #9  
Old 03-01-06, 03:42 AM
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What's the matter with the sump outlet being used with another device?
That depends on the device.

> I just realized the sump and my washer is on the same circuit.
> Could this be a bad combo?

First of all, is it even a GFCI-protected outlet?
If not and GFCI is normally required, are both devices exempted equipment?


> My sump pump is 1/3 amp.

More like 1/3 hp.


See the problem you have here is that receptacles in your unfinished basement are supposed to be GFCI-protected.
If you don't want an exemption for your sump pump, that is fine.
 
  #10  
Old 03-02-06, 11:15 AM
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My basement is finished.

I didn't know the washer and sump are supposed to be GFCI protected. If it is required, why are people here so against it (other than the fact it might trip randomly).
 
  #11  
Old 03-02-06, 11:34 AM
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There is no requirement that a washer or a sump pump be GFCI protected. There is a requirement in the US that states that general purpose receptacles in an unfinished basement must be GFCI receptacles, or be GFCI protected.

People don't want a washer or a sump pump to be GFCI protected because of the possibility that the GFCI will trip and shut the device down. With a washer this means that the clothes won't get cleaned. With a sump pump this could mean a wet basement, resulting in hundreds or thousands of dollars in damage.

So what do you do when your washer and sump pump are in an unfinished basement? Do you GFCI protect them and risk a wet basement and/or unwashed clothes? You certainly can do that. However, the acceptable solution is to use a simplex receptacle that is not GFCI protected.
 
  #12  
Old 03-02-06, 09:52 PM
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Why does unfinished basements have to be GFCI protected?

So technically, if the basement is not finished you can only have ONE simplex outlet for the sump? You can't have other recepticles for other electric appliances even if they are all simplex recepticles?
 
  #13  
Old 03-03-06, 01:30 AM
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Why does unfinished basements have to be GFCI protected?
Because the floor is conductive and metal piping is exposed.


> So technically, if the basement is not finished you can only have ONE simplex outlet for the sump?

I'm not sure what you are asking here.
Basically, in order for a receptacle to be dedicated, it has to have the dedicated appliance(s) plugged into it.
So if you have only one appliance to plug in, you need a simplex receptacle.



> You can't have other receptacles for other electric appliances even
> if they are all simplex receptacles?

I'm not sure what you are asking here.
You may have all the receptacles that you wish in you finished basement.


If your basement were unfinished, you can have all the receptacles that you want but they must be GFCI protected.




As for laundry appliances, I have no problem with GFCI protection.
GFCI is potentially problematic for things that must work if at all possible like alarms, sumps pumps, freezers, refrigerators, and stairway and exiting lighting.
Dedicated circuits are appropriate for most of these anyway so that something else can't blow the breaker.
 
  #14  
Old 03-03-06, 05:08 AM
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Reread what racraft said:
There is no requirement that a washer or a sump pump be GFCI protected. There is a requirement in the US that states that general purpose receptacles in an unfinished basement must be GFCI receptacles, or be GFCI protected.
There are various places where code requires a GFCI. Examples are in bathrooms near the sink, in kitchens near the sink, in unfinished basements, outdoors, etc.

In an unfinished basement, you are only required to protect 'general purpose' receptacles. This means any receptacle that doesn't have something 'fixed in place' plugged into it. Any receptacle that you could plug a and tool into is a receptacle that must be GFCI protected. Basically the requirement is there to protect you when using portable equipment. Specifically exempted are receptacles for things like appliances and sump pumps. You can have a fridge in a basement, but plugged into a non-GFCI receptacle.

The issue with 'duplex' receptacles is that if you have a _single_ appliance plugged in, leaving the other receptacle 'holes' available for general use. This other set of holes must be GFCI protected.

If you have two 'fixed in place' appliances, then an non GFCI duplex is fine. Similarly, may inspectors will permit a standard duplex receptacle for a single appliance if the receptacle is _behind_ the appliance and thus not generally accessible. But if you have a single appliance plugged into an easily reached receptacle, then the common technique is to use a 'simplex' receptacle.

-Jon
 
  #15  
Old 03-03-06, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by winnie
This means any receptacle that doesn't have something 'fixed in place' plugged into it.
This was recently debated in another thread. It's not as simple as you make it sound. There are more criteria.


Specifically exempted are receptacles for things like appliances and sump pumps.
As discussed in the other thread, sump pumps are not specifically exempted. (They should be.)
I think it is obvious that sump pumps are not portable in normal use and that a sump is dedicated space. But not everyone agreed.

I don't mean to bring the debate to this thread. But you comments cover territory addressed in the other recent thread.
 
  #16  
Old 03-03-06, 05:49 AM
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Fair enough. Would you be so kind as to post the link to this other thread; I've looked but don't see it.

-Jon
 
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