GFCI Circuit Breaker

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  #1  
Old 04-15-06, 11:17 PM
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GFCI Circuit Breaker

First and foremost I would like to greet everyone as I am new to this site and posting for that matter.

Project: Bathroom vent/fan replacement. I will give explicit information as it pertains to my knowledge of residential electricity, which is pretty green except most basics.

I do not know how much detail anyone likes to read. Maybe just the exact question at hand? So I am just going to lay the whole thing out to try and depict an image. I do apologize for such an introduction.

Current dead fan: Exhaust bathroom fan only directly above shower head (not GFCI protected) on second level of house.

Replacing with Broan exhaust Fan/Light combo. Wiring to a one switch configuration so both fan and light come on when switched.

I was planning on cutting new ceiling hole and placing the new fan/light in the center of bathroom ceiling so direct moisture did not hit the fan (assumed it was against code having the original fan directly above shower head).

Reading the label on the new vent/light it states it can be mounted above the shower head as long as its GFCI protected. So, If I GFCI protect the fan no new holes need to be cut right?

So, how do I GFCI protect a switch? Never heard of one so I thought. You could put a GFCI outlet on the start of the chain of that circuit but that sounded like work. Going to the local Menards I found a GFCI circuit breaker (never knew such an animal was made) and thought cool, I will just GFCI the whole circuit. Easier than pulling outlets out of the wall to find a starter. By the way, that is the only way how I would know how to do it.

After finding out there are currently three rooms on this circuit, two bedrooms and the bathroom on a 20 amp circuit. I decided to check the downstairs bathroom and kitchen circuit's amperage since I've been having issues with that breaker blowing when you simply turn the kitchen's ceiling fan on or even the light above the sink. This is an entirely different question and maybe needs to be in its own post? However, to mention, the kitchen and downstairs bathroom is only on a 15 amp breaker.

It seems weird to me that you would have two upstairs bedrooms and a bathroom on a 20 amp breaker and a downstairs kitchen and bathroom on a 15?

Now I am thinking something is mucked up in the breaker box wiring. Do, I need to swap out the wires from the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom on the the 20 amp breaker and put them on the 15. Then put the downstairs kitchen and bathroom on the 20 amp breaker? Finally, here are my actual questions. And do again apologize for an essay before stating my actual questions. Just thought it was good to have an overall view of my situation.

By the way, I have not yet opened the breaker box yet as I do not want to assume anything before doing so.

Current Box: 200 amp QO load center wired down to a 100 amp. In other words, I have the incoming wires from the meter box fed into a 100 amp breaker feeding both hot bus sides. This was done to replace old 100 amp fuse box with the intention of going to a 200 amp but am unable to replace mast and so forth at this time as I'd have to hire it out.

1) Is there a range of wires that can go to a circuit? In other words, to my knowledge, a number 14 wire goes to a 15 amp circuit. A 12 wire goes to a 20 amp. Can there be a range?

2) How do I tell what the wire size is if it is not explicitly stated on the wire itself? In other words, I want to find out if the kitchen and bathroom circuit wires on the 15 amp breaker can be moved to a 20 amp? And the upstairs bathroom ant two bedrooms moved from a 20 amp to a 15 amp breaker. Or just slap 20 amp breakers in for both circuits? By the way, there is a network of circuits in that breaker box so the 15 amp isn't feeding everything. I've still yet to find the breaker that's feeding one of the kitchen walls (refrigerator, microwave, etc.).

3) Knowing that I may have to exchange this GFCI breaker I bought a 20 amp but have not yet opened the package. I see there is a white wire connected to the breaker and am wondering (since it is white) does this wire get connected to the bus bar that all other neutrals are connected to? Or as I read in another post, ground and neutral wires may connect to the same bus bar. I am not expecting answers to the under lying of this statement but am wondering if I should just follow the convention of the box and connect it to the bar other neutrals are connected to? Again, I do not want to assume.

4) Since I have the outlets in all three rooms (upstairs bathroom, downstairs bathroom and kitchen) already GFCI protected as far as the receptacles go. Is it legal to have GFCI outlets within the rooms and a GFCI circuit breaker together?

Sorry for diverse questions all in one post but am trying to complete this project before the weekend is over. Nobody likes moisture problems.

Thank you for any comments to this issue.
 

Last edited by Cagie; 04-15-06 at 11:39 PM.
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  #2  
Old 04-15-06, 11:37 PM
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Welcome, Cagie.

> If I GFCI protect the fan no new holes need to be cut right?
Right.

> You could put a GFCI outlet on the start of the chain of that circuit
Right. This is normal.

> that is the only way how I would know how to do it.
This is normal when the cables are not visible.


> This is an entirely different question and maybe needs to be in its own post?
Yes.


> It seems weird to me that you would have two upstairs bedrooms and a bathroom
> on a 20 amp breaker and a downstairs kitchen and bathroom on a 15?

It certainly is not up to current standards.


> Do, I need to swap out the wires from the upstairs bedrooms and bathroom
> on the the 20 amp breaker and put them on the 15.

No.


> Is there a range of wires that can go to a circuit?
Sort of.

> In other words, to my knowledge, a number 14 wire goes to a 15 amp circuit.

15A max.

> A 12 wire goes to a 20 amp.

20A maximum. Okay on 15A too.


> How do I tell what the wire size is if it is not explicitly stated on the wire itself?

Many wire strippers have gauge holes as do cheap NM cable rippers.


> Or just slap 20 amp breakers in for both circuits?

After you verify that the wiring is at least #12 everywhere (not just at the panel).


> I've still yet to find the breaker that's feeding one of the kitchen walls

You have some more work to do.


> I see there is a white wire connected to the breaker and am wondering
> (since it is white) does this wire get connected to the bus bar that all
> other neutrals are connected to?

Yes. GFCI and AFCI are different in that both black and white from the cable land on the breaker. Then the white from the breaker goes to the neutral bar.


> am wondering if I should just follow the convention of the box and connect
> it to the bar other neutrals are connected to?

The curly wire, yes.
The white wire from the cable to the bathroom has to be moved from the neutral bar to the white lug on the GFCI.



> Is it legal to have GFCI outlets within the rooms and a GFCI circuit breaker together?

Yes. (It can be annoying if something gets wet or leaks.)
 
  #3  
Old 04-16-06, 05:01 AM
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From the sounds of your remodel, you need to take the basthroom off this circuit and install a new circuit for just this bathroom so that the bathroom will be upo to today's code.
 
  #4  
Old 04-16-06, 07:42 AM
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Thank you Bolide, not only for the quick reply but also for the valuable information.

Thank you too Racraft, though, I must ask, Were you speaking of the downstairs bathroom which is on the 15 amp circuit? Which is the circuit that likes to trip occasionally by simply turning on a light?

Or should both bathrooms be on their own circuit? Is that a national code that a bathroom should be on its own circuit?
 
  #5  
Old 04-16-06, 09:08 AM
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Bathroom receptacles must be on 20 amp circuits. Locations outside a bathroom can never be on a bathroom receptacle circuit.

Since you aren't remodeling the downstairs bathroom, you don;t have to do anything down there.
 
  #6  
Old 04-16-06, 10:05 AM
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So just swapping out a bathroom exaust fan would be considered a remodel? That is all I am doing in this room

I guess the only thing I would actually call a remodel is when we swapped out the breaker box from fuses to breakers. Actually, the old box did have breakers but was fused with an actual 100 amp screw in fuse. Never saw that type of configuration (figured it was old) so replaced it with a new one. Eventually want to go to a 200 amp anyway.
 
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