Adding an outlet for water softener

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  #1  
Old 10-13-06, 01:05 PM
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Adding an outlet for water softener

Hello -

I'm hoping someone can give me a little advice on the best solution for the following problem. And please don't recommend I hire an electrician for this. I know the basics about circuits, electricity, hot/neutral wires, etc. I've lost track of the number of fixtures and fans i've installed over the years. First some background. I had a water softener installed last month in an unfinished basement next to an electric water heater and well pressure tank. There were no outlets in the vicinity so it's running off a gfci outlet on the other side of the basement approximate 60 feet from the softener. I would like to add another outlet next to the softener. But since this is an unfinished basement there are no studs to mount the receptacle. I'm fairly certain that the basement contains two 15 amp circuits. One of the circuits is GFCI protected with a GFCI receptacle mounted directly beneath the main breaker panel. The closest outlet to the softener is about 15 feet away but there is a control box for an alarm system hard wired to it. The only mounting surface near the softener is a 10'' x 14'' piece of OSB nailed to the concrete wall that contains a fuse for the water heater. My idea is to mount one of those blue plastic boxes to this piece of OSB (using drywall screws ? ) and run cable from the last fixture/outlet in the GFCI circuit to this box. What are the pros/cons of doing it this way? Any better/easier solution? Does this outlet need a seperate GFCI or is it sufficient that the head outlet in the circuit is already protected with one? What would happen it I added it anyway? Would it still work and trip both receptables? Sorry for the lenth of the post.

thanks for any info
 
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  #2  
Old 10-13-06, 01:51 PM
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> mount one of those blue plastic boxes to this piece of
> OSB (using drywall screws ? )

Use a steel junction box and EMT conduit when installing a receptacle on a concrete wall. Attach the box and conduit to the concrete wall with expanding masonry anchors, tapcons, or something to that effect. Any wiring running exposed along a concrete basement wall must be protected from damage by running in EMT conduit.

> run cable from the last fixture/outlet in the GFCI circuit

Check the installation instructions for the water softener. Many specifically say to not provide GFCI protection. If the GFCI was to accidentally trip during the softener cycle it could either waste a ton of water in backwash or overflow the brine tank and flood your basement. The latter situation actually happened to my neighbor a few years ago; to make matters worse, they were away for the weekend and had several inches of water accumulated by Monday.

> What are the pros/cons of doing it this way?

When installing a fixed-in-place appliance, I prefer to install a new, dedicated circuit to that appliance rather than tap an existing circuit. Because the water softener uses such a miniscule amount of power, I'd say you could tap an existing circuit if running a new one is too much trouble. The circuit powering the alarm system sounds like a better choice than the GFCI receptacle circuit.
 
  #3  
Old 10-13-06, 03:44 PM
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Is that single outlet and alarm circuit the only things on those circuits? You could tap off the hot wire in the GFCI outlet vice using the load terminals if that's easier.

If you choose to not GFCI protect it, when you do put in the outlet, put in a single outlet- all outlets in rooms like that are required to have GFCI protection unless they're "dedicated".

You can run bare NM cable between the ceiling joists, but it has to be "protected" which means conduit on the walls. If you can just run it straight up and not worry about bends, EMT or IMC is probably easiest- if you have to run it in a more complicated method, you could use armored BC cable or ENT ("smurf tube"- that cheap looking blue stuff by the other conduit). ENT is by far the cheapest and easiest for a DIY, but it'll look like crap, heh.
 
  #4  
Old 10-13-06, 05:48 PM
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Do you have a low-voltage transformer "brick" to plug in? Most if not all of the units I looked at a few years back had low-voltage wire from the brick to the control head. If this is the same in your situation:

My GE Osmonics control head owner's manual says if there is not a 110V outlet nearby then you may cut the cord between the brick and the control head and splice in a suitable gauge of wire to cover the distance. I used 16 AWG to go less than 25 feet and the resultant voltage was well within range. This was a lot easier than conforming to the NEC and local codes, not to mention the $50 electrical permit fee. Plumbing inspector did not have a problem with it ($50 for the plbg. permit). I suspect you could do the same to get to the alarm panel receptacle.
 
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Old 10-14-06, 08:49 AM
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>Use a steel junction box and EMT conduit when >installing a receptacle on a concrete wall.

This seems like overkill for my application. The basement is only used for storage. The outlet would be located just above and behind the water heater and softener about 6 feet off the floor. I forgot ot mention that the wall is covered with 6'' of fiberglass insulation so I would have to remove this in order to run the conduit. That would be a royal PITA to say the least. Could I attach a 2x4 to the wall using liquid nails and run the wire along it? This is how the receptacle that powers the sump pump is attached. Another alternative would be to mount it on the ceiling joist?




>Check the installation instructions for the water softener. Many specifically say to not provide GFCI protection. If the GFCI was to accidentally trip during the softener cycle it could either waste a ton of water in backwash or overflow the brine tank and flood your basement. The latter situation actually happened to my neighbor a few years ago; to make matters worse, they were away for the weekend and had several inches of water accumulated by Monday.

Interesting. Wouldn't the softener quit working once it lost power? The timer must be mechanically actuated. Ummm...now I'm thinking maybe it should have a battery backup. installed.
 
  #6  
Old 10-14-06, 08:51 AM
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Originally Posted by ArgMeMatey
Do you have a low-voltage transformer "brick" to plug in? Most if not all of the units I looked at a few years back had low-voltage wire from the brick to the control head. If this is the same in your situation:

My GE Osmonics control head owner's manual says if there is not a 110V outlet nearby then you may cut the cord between the brick and the control head and splice in a suitable gauge of wire to cover the distance. I used 16 AWG to go less than 25 feet and the resultant voltage was well within range. This was a lot easier than conforming to the NEC and local codes, not to mention the $50 electrical permit fee. Plumbing inspector did not have a problem with it ($50 for the plbg. permit). I suspect you could do the same to get to the alarm panel receptacle.

It is a standard 3 prong 110v power cord.
 
  #7  
Old 10-14-06, 10:48 AM
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Normaly running an extenion cord, or splicing into an appliance cord would be considered bad wiring practice. However, if it is part of the mfg listing and labling, then I see no reason not to take advantage of it.

If you use a recepticle with a single outlet, not duplex, then there is no need for this to be GFI protected.

I would not install any metal box or pipe directly to the side wall of a basement. Moisture could cause premature rust. At minimum use wood fastened to the wall and mount your stuff to the wood.

If you appliance cord will reach, I would install the recepticle in the floor joist area above the water softener. You could set a junction box near the alarm circuit rec (also in the floor joist cavity) and t tap to both recepticles.

I would also be sure that this is not on a GFI for reasons stated above.
 
  #8  
Old 10-14-06, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by jwhite
Normaly running an extenion cord, or splicing into an appliance cord would be considered bad wiring practice. However, if it is part of the mfg listing and labling, then I see no reason not to take advantage of it.

If you use a recepticle with a single outlet, not duplex, then there is no need for this to be GFI protected.

I would not install any metal box or pipe directly to the side wall of a basement. Moisture could cause premature rust. At minimum use wood fastened to the wall and mount your stuff to the wood.

If you appliance cord will reach, I would install the recepticle in the floor joist area above the water softener. You could set a junction box near the alarm circuit rec (also in the floor joist cavity) and t tap to both recepticles.

I would also be sure that this is not on a GFI for reasons stated above.

So it would be acceptable to mount the box on the piece of OSB that also contains the water heater fuse? This is how the CGI outlet directly below the main panel is attached.

The problem with the floor joist install is that there are water pipes from the water heater that travel parallel along both sides of the joist directly above the water heater. I would have to install it on the next joist over. The cord would be hanging out further from the softener and exposed to traffic.
 
  #9  
Old 10-14-06, 09:45 PM
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what you suggest sounds fine.
 
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