Hey...where are my GFCI outlets??

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  #1  
Old 10-27-06, 08:17 AM
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Hey...where are my GFCI outlets??

Ok I thought houses built in 1996 (?) and beyond had to have GFCI outlets in the bathroom. My house was built in 1999 and there are no GFCI outlets installed. The outlets in question are less than 3 feet from the vanity in all the bathrooms. How did this pass inspection? There are no CFGI breakers in the main panel and no GFCI outlets upstream from the bathrooms.
 
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  #2  
Old 10-27-06, 08:30 AM
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I'm not an electrician but I'm sure the bath outlet is on a GFI. Many electrician will group together the different devices that need protection. Trip the GFI's and see if you have power to the bath outlet.
 
  #3  
Old 10-27-06, 08:41 AM
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Have you thoroughly and completely looked for a GFCI receptacle? What about the basement? What about the garage? What about outside?

What about if ther previous owner replaced them with regular recetpacles?

Bottom line, check the entire circuit. If you don't find them, add them. Better yet, if you haven't bought the place yet have the seller add them.
 

Last edited by racraft; 10-27-06 at 09:03 AM.
  #4  
Old 10-27-06, 10:35 AM
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A very inexpensive 3-light tester can also trip GFCI circuits (if you get that model). Of course, if it works, then you'll be forced to find the GFCI before you can reset it. If it doesn't, you'll know you can quit looking and replace the receptacle.
 
  #5  
Old 10-27-06, 02:29 PM
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Start by looking in another bath room, or in the panel.
 
  #6  
Old 10-27-06, 03:33 PM
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I'm pretty sure code prohibits protecting one bathroom on another bathroom's GFCI's. Not saying thye followed it tho.
 
  #7  
Old 10-27-06, 03:42 PM
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> I'm pretty sure code prohibits protecting one bathroom on
> another bathroom's GFCI's. Not saying thye followed it
> tho.

Multiple bathrooms' receptacles on the same GFCI circuit is specifically allowed by the NEC.
 
  #8  
Old 10-27-06, 03:43 PM
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Burkej62, you are incorrect.

It is perfectly legal and within current code to have a GFCI in one bathroom that protects the receptacles in every bathroom in the house.

If I found my house this way I would certainly change it, but it is not against code.
 
  #9  
Old 10-27-06, 04:11 PM
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Bathrooms require a dedicated 20A circuit because hairdryers and curling irons are very heavy demand appliances. Code allows all the bathrooms to share a single circuit, as they assume not a lot of simultinaity of using hairdryers in multiple bathrooms.

If that bathroom was installed legally, there will either be a GFCI in one bathroom in the house protecting all the other bathrooms (most likely) or a GFCI breaker (more expensive thus very rare). And, possibly a GFCI in each bathroom.

Code alternately allows you to run all the lights and fans in a bathroom off the 20A GFCI circuit, but you can't run any other bathrooms off it if you do this.

Ergo, if this GFCI is not in a bathroom or on your panel, your house was wired up illegally; in which case it's far more likely there is NO GFCI rather than it being hidden somewhere else. Could quite easily have been wired up for a GFCI to be used, but the wrong receptacle was installed during final and missed during inspection. That'll take a little more investigating, though!
 

Last edited by grover; 10-27-06 at 10:08 PM.
  #10  
Old 10-27-06, 06:26 PM
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I don't know if this applys or not but I have a 1997 MH rental that only has 1 GFI, located in the kitchen but also protects the bath and exterior outlet.
 
  #11  
Old 10-28-06, 05:34 AM
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Originally Posted by marksr
I don't know if this applys or not but I have a 1997 MH rental that only has 1 GFI, located in the kitchen but also protects the bath and exterior outlet.
Mobile homes are built to FEMA standards Not the NEC. That is how they get away with building them so cheeply.

Any changes you make after it is set in place must be done to NEC standards and local code.
 
  #12  
Old 10-28-06, 08:20 AM
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Well I bought one of those GFI testers and used it on a bathroom receptacle. It killed the power to that receptacle as well as to all the bathroom outlets in the house (upstairs and downstairs). The main panel contains a 20 amp circuit labled "Bathroom Plugs". All the lights/fans in the bathrooms still work. There is a GFCI in the garage, one in the basement, two in the kitchen, one outside and one just outside of the master bath. I've checked all of them and none of them tripped. The only placed I haven't checked is the attic.
 
  #13  
Old 10-28-06, 08:40 AM
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Does the breaker in the panel have a test button on it?

It may be a gfi breaker. If that is the case shut off all the way then turn it back on. This will reset both the breaker and the gfi.

It could also be any of the other gfi's even though this would be illegal. I assume you tried to test/reset them all...
 
  #14  
Old 10-28-06, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by jwhite
Does the breaker in the panel have a test button on it?

It may be a gfi breaker. If that is the case shut off all the way then turn it back on. This will reset both the breaker and the gfi.

It could also be any of the other gfi's even though this would be illegal. I assume you tried to test/reset them all...

There is no test button on the breaker. It appears to be the same style of breaker as the others. Nevertheless, I cycled the breaker. No luck. I double checked all the GFCIs again. No luck. WTF??? Whoever wired this house must have been smoking something. Help....I need power to these outlets.
 
  #15  
Old 10-28-06, 03:13 PM
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I think since MAC702 suggested the do or die method, he needs to come over to your house and find the hidden GFCI recep.

I know if my daughters didn;t have power in the bathroom for their hairdryers and curling irons and... well you get the picture, they would scream (more than usual).
 
  #16  
Old 10-28-06, 03:15 PM
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Do you have a crawl space. If so, look down there. I would look near any main water supply for a heat tape or such to plug into.
 
  #17  
Old 10-28-06, 03:52 PM
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Originally Posted by nap
Do you have a crawl space. If so, look down there. I would look near any main water supply for a heat tape or such to plug into.
I have a basement. No crawl space. Could it be in the attic? This is the only place I haven't checked. Not sure what you mean by heat tape. Is this used to prevent pipes near the foundation from freezing??
 
  #18  
Old 10-28-06, 04:17 PM
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It could be anywhere. I have heard of them being hidden in the attic(which is really dumb place).

Can you follow the cable from the breaker panel? Try and trace where it physically runs.
 
  #19  
Old 10-28-06, 04:17 PM
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Gotta be there somewhere...

I'd look first at the GFCI outside the bathroom - there's no logical reason for it to be there other than for the bath. Another strange possibility is that one of the outdoor outlets has the GFCI under the cover. Other places to look - perhaps there's one near the sump pump or a laundry? As you're trying things out, have a hairdryer or stereo plugged into the dead bath outlet, turned on high. As soon as you find the problem, you'll hear it.

Try hitting the test and reset button on each GFCI just to be sure. Some trips aren't very obvious. Another method is plugging a hairdryer into each GFCI to make sure it's still working, if it isn't then that one tripped. If your basement is unfinished, maybe you can follow the wire from the box - you'd have to pull the cover off the panel to see which wire coming out of the box is the one. I hadve a 1988 house with 1 GFCI receptacle mounted right next to the main panel (only 15a to boot) which handled 2.5 baths and 2 outdoor receptacles. Needless to say, I wired in a few extra 20a circuits to replace that right after I moved in.
 
  #20  
Old 10-28-06, 05:21 PM
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Originally Posted by joed
It could be anywhere. I have heard of them being hidden in the attic(which is really dumb place).

Can you follow the cable from the breaker panel? Try and trace where it physically runs.
Well if it's in th attic I sure hope it's mounted within line of sight. There is about 3-4 ft of loose fill fiberglass insulation in the attic. They wouldn't have been stupid enough to mount it on a floor joist would they?


I can't trace it for very far until it disappears into the first floor sheathing.
 
  #21  
Old 10-28-06, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Wes213
I'd look first at the GFCI outside the bathroom - there's no logical reason for it to be there other than for the bath. Another strange possibility is that one of the outdoor outlets has the GFCI under the cover. Other places to look - perhaps there's one near the sump pump or a laundry? As you're trying things out, have a hairdryer or stereo plugged into the dead bath outlet, turned on high. As soon as you find the problem, you'll hear it.

Try hitting the test and reset button on each GFCI just to be sure. Some trips aren't very obvious. Another method is plugging a hairdryer into each GFCI to make sure it's still working, if it isn't then that one tripped. If your basement is unfinished, maybe you can follow the wire from the box - you'd have to pull the cover off the panel to see which wire coming out of the box is the one. I hadve a 1988 house with 1 GFCI receptacle mounted right next to the main panel (only 15a to boot) which handled 2.5 baths and 2 outdoor receptacles. Needless to say, I wired in a few extra 20a circuits to replace that right after I moved in.

Well this is strange. The GFCI just out side of the master bath is working, When it trips, it kills all the lights in the master bath. So I'm think this a seperate GFCI curcuit.

One other thin I didn't mension is that one of the GFCI outside outlets are not the stangard types. I meam they appear as sigle outlets covered indvidually. There are no test and reset buttons
 
  #22  
Old 10-28-06, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by jj32
One other thin I didn't mension is that one of the GFCI outside outlets are not the stangard types. I meam they appear as sigle outlets covered indvidually. There are no test and reset buttons

The how do you know it is GFCI protected?
 
  #23  
Old 10-28-06, 06:01 PM
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Keep looking!

Perhaps the gfci outside the bath is there to protect a light inside of the shower area, but why wouldn't that also handle the outlet if they didn't use a dedicated outlet circuit... strange.

The outdoor outlets sound like regular outlets, which are protected by a GFCI somewhere inside the house. Remember, everything past a GFCI (if wired to the load side) is protected by that one GFCI.

If the circuit breaker is on, and the only thing not working in the house are the bath receptacles, there has to be a tripped GFCI somewhere!
 
  #24  
Old 10-28-06, 10:10 PM
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You might have a disconnected wire or a bad GFCI. Sometimes a wire comes loose. With the breaker off, open each bathroom receptacle and gently pull it out, but do not disconnect anything. Check for any wires that are loose or disconnected. Then with the breaker back on, check for proper power to the GFCI.
 
  #25  
Old 10-29-06, 07:57 AM
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Start with Bobs idea. Now how many other GFCIs' have you found?
The next logical step would be to get a good voltage tester, (or a 2 wire lamp type). With the power off to each gfci rec. remove each one, (Get the kids etc. out of the area). Turn the associated brkr for a particular rec and check the LOAD side.
Trip the gfci and reset it. If all is fine disconnect power and reinstall it (carefully so as not to creat a new problem).

Do this for each one, you could have a faulty GFCI rec.

#I think since MAC702 suggested the do or die method, he needs to come over to your house and find the hidden GFCI recep.#

BTW: Mac has been awfull quiet,lol:
 
  #26  
Old 10-29-06, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by lectriclee
...
#I think since MAC702 suggested the do or die method, he needs to come over to your house and find the hidden GFCI recep.#

BTW: Mac has been awfull quiet,lol:
Shhhh!

Actually, has he done the "do or die"? This meant putting in a tester and tripping the GFI, to verify that it is protected. Did we actually do that and have a dead circuit now because of it?
 
  #27  
Old 10-29-06, 04:48 PM
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Talking

Well..... Ya...... But we have had fun making "sport" of you (hope you dont mind).

Your method proved the desired results (kind of), They are safe..

Now we must wait for jj32.
 
  #28  
Old 10-29-06, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by MAC702
...Actually, has he done the "do or die"?...
Ah, yes, I found the post. Hehe. Yeah, my method worked alright. Now he's committed! And getting more motivated everyday no doubt...
 
  #29  
Old 10-30-06, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by MAC702
Ah, yes, I found the post. Hehe. Yeah, my method worked alright. Now he's committed! And getting more motivated everyday no doubt...

More puzzled than motivated at this point. I live alone and there is another live receptacle two feet outside the bathroom door so I can wait a bit longer. I'm curious about one thing. If there is a dedicated circuit controlling the plugs in the bathrooms, how can a GFCI outlet on another circuit control the bathroom plugs? I've tripped every GFCI in the house and in every case power is killed to a receptacle not in the bathroom. Maybe there is another GFi outlet I haven't stumbled across but I'm beginning to not believe what is written on the breaker labels inside of main panel. BTW, I did check the wiring and there are no loose connections. The mystery continues. If and when I do find the problem, I'll be sure to post an update. Thanks for the help.
 
  #30  
Old 10-31-06, 11:25 AM
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The GFCI you're looking for will probably be somewhere in the bathroom closest to the breaker panel, but could be in any of them (mine's in the one farthest from the panel). Check under the sink and in any closet that's in or near one of the bathrooms (I have a GFCI in the master closet that I'm sure would be hard to find if I didn't know it was there). If any of the bathrooms also has a jetted bath tub, the GFCI might be behind an access panel under the tub (the tub should be on a separate circuit, but...)

Doug M.
 
  #31  
Old 10-31-06, 12:59 PM
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I hope your at least using your detective work to make a map of all the circuits in the house. It can come in handy the next time you have a problem, especially when the breaker labels are less than accurate. Reminds me of my first home, all my breakers were labeled with phonetic spellings: "kichen" and "badroom", now that instills confidence in your electrical system.
 
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