GFCI locations in a basement


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Old 11-19-07, 12:15 PM
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GFCI locations in a basement

Hi, I've been reading up on the NEC requirements for GFCIs in basements, but I have a couple questions. Let me run through the different rooms in the basement.

My basement is mostly finished. Of that area, only the 1/2 bath receptacle and the wet bar receptacle are currently protected.

I have an unfinished room with the furnace and water heater. This has one non-protected receptacle. I'm not sure what use it is. I assume this must be GFCI protected, right?

I also have a workshop room that is unfinished. The shop has many receptacles for power tools, as well as dedicated circuits for the water softener and sump pump. The bench-level receptacles are not protected. I believe they should be GFCI-protected. They are currently unprotected.

There is another room that is a 6ft x 6ft finished cedar closet (carpeted floor, cedar walls, drywalled ceiling). There are several receptacles inside that probably will never be used. In my reading of the NEC, these should be protected since the area is primarily storage. Or does this not have to be protected since it is finished? This one has me confused.

Thanks for the help, folks!
 
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Old 11-19-07, 12:47 PM
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> I have an unfinished room with the furnace and water heater. This has one non-protected
> receptacle. I'm not sure what use it is.

The mechanical room receptacle should be GFCI protected. It is a required service outlet for a furnace repairman should the need arise.

> I also have a workshop room that is unfinished.

The receptacles in this room should be GFCI protected. The sump pump and softener receptacles are optional, but I would not put GFCI on either of those.

> 6ft x 6ft finished cedar closet

The closet is optional in my opinion, but not required.
 
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Old 11-19-07, 09:04 PM
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Thanks a lot for the infomation, Ben. That makes sense to have a receptacle for furnace repair. That receptacle was missing a cover plate and had reversed polarity. I already fixed those problems, but will add GFCI protection as well.

As for the shop, there are two receptacle circuits, so I need to add two GFCIs. What is the procedure for finding which receptacle is the first in the circuit?
 
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Old 11-19-07, 09:54 PM
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Originally Posted by jumpyg View Post
What is the procedure for finding which receptacle is the first in the circuit?
This is an unfinished area, right? So you should be able to just tell by looking at the run. Otherwise just disconnect the hot from one of the receptacles (best guess) and test that the downstream ones are dead.

I wouldn't put a GFCI on the pump or softener either. However these are only exempt from GFCI requirements if both of those receptacles are simplex. (I'm assuming they are in different locations.) Basically if somebody can readily plug something in without disconnecting fixed in place equipment it must be protected.

Only throwing this in because pre-GFCI days I never would have used a simplex receptacle for hardly anything. Back then seemed like a waste of an available receptacle if I ever needed one.
 
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Old 11-19-07, 10:12 PM
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Core yeah they are exempt for now and keep in your mind this is is fine for 05 and earlier codes but when the individual states will adopt the 08 code cycle that exempt will be removed.

let you know ahead of the time.

Merci , Marc
 
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Old 11-19-07, 10:43 PM
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Oh no! So his (and my) sump pump now needs to go on a GFCI starting in 08? Well I for one am not about to have water in my basement, Code or not. The 2008 modifications are starting to sound more crazy by the day.
 
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Old 11-19-07, 11:38 PM
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Sorry for going a little off topic, but I was wondering how things work south of the (canadian) border...

If your code changes, you need to update your house to conform to code, or only on new construction or renos?
 
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Old 11-20-07, 04:23 AM
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You never have to upgrade existing wiring to conform to the new electrical codes just because the code changed.

Only when you install something new, or renovate an area of the house or a room must the new installation or the room renovated be up to code.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 06:58 AM
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Originally Posted by core View Post
This is an unfinished area, right? So you should be able to just tell by looking at the run. Otherwise just disconnect the hot from one of the receptacles (best guess) and test that the downstream ones are dead.
Actually, about 75% of the walls are floor-to-ceiling peg board. I assume that doesn't count as finished, but maybe I'm wrong. At any rate, it makes figuring out where the circuits go a little harder. I'll follow your advice.

Originally Posted by core View Post
I wouldn't put a GFCI on the pump or softener either. However these are only exempt from GFCI requirements if both of those receptacles are simplex. (I'm assuming they are in different locations.) Basically if somebody can readily plug something in without disconnecting fixed in place equipment it must be protected.
That's a good idea. Do the big boxes sell simplex receptacles, or will I have to find a specialty shop?
 
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Old 11-20-07, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Core
The 2008 modifications are starting to sound more crazy by the day.
I completely agree, Core. There is no way that the sump pump or freezer in my own basement is going on a GFCI.

Originally Posted by fungku View Post
If your code changes, you need to update your house to conform to code, or only on new construction or renos?
New construction or renovation must be up to code; it's mostly up to the inspector how much work constitutes "renovation", but usually if the drywall comes down all electrical must come up to code. Also extending a branch circuit requires the entire circuit be brought up to code.

Originally Posted by jumpyg
Do the big boxes sell simplex receptacles?
Yes, they do. One important technicality to note is that code often requires simplex receptacle to match the amperage of the circuit. If you have a 15A circuit, the receptacle must be 15A; if you have a 20A circuit, the receptacle must be 20A with a "T" slot neutral. You often can't put a 15A simplex receptacle on a 20A circuit like you can with duplex receptacles.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
One important technicality to note is that code often requires simplex receptacle to match the amperage of the circuit. If you have a 15A circuit, the receptacle must be 15A; if you have a 20A circuit, the receptacle must be 20A with a "T" slot neutral. You often can't put a 15A simplex receptacle on a 20A circuit like you can with duplex receptacles.
Thanks for the tip!
 
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Old 11-20-07, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft View Post
You never have to upgrade existing wiring to conform to the new electrical codes just because the code changed.

Only when you install something new, or renovate an area of the house or a room must the new installation or the room renovated be up to code.
Ah, okay, that makes sense. The way people are talking on these forums, it sounds like everytime the code changes they change their house to meet it.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 08:56 PM
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I have a quick follow-up question. I'm wondering if 15 amp GFCIs are allowed on 20 amp circuits, and vice versa. My recollection is that you can use 15 amp GFCIs on a 20 amp circuit, but you CANNOT use 20 amp GFCIs on a 15 amp circuit.

I have two 20 amp GFCIs that are located on two 15 amp circuits, which I believe is incorrect. Can someone help me out here?
 
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Old 11-20-07, 09:10 PM
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Your understanding is correct, but it applies to the receptacle itself, NOT to the feed through protection capability.

Are you sure that they are 20 amp GFCIs? Or are they rated for 20 amp feed through protection? 20 amp GFCIs will have a T shaped neutral slot. 15 amp GFCIs will have straight neutral slots.
 
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Old 11-20-07, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft View Post
Your understanding is correct, but it applies to the receptacle itself, NOT to the feed through protection capability.

Are you sure that they are 20 amp GFCIs? Or are they rated for 20 amp feed through protection? 20 amp GFCIs will have a T shaped neutral slot. 15 amp GFCIs will have straight neutral slots.
Yes, both of them have the T-slot neutral.

Can you clarify your point about the feed-through protection?

Sounds like I should switch these out for 15 amp GFCIs.
 
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Old 11-21-07, 04:44 AM
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If these are 15 amp circuits then you need to swap out these 20 amp GFCIs.

Feed through means that that the GFCI protection is valid for a 20 amp circuit, even though the receptacle itself will only accept 15 amp plugs.
 
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Old 11-26-07, 07:35 AM
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Originally Posted by racraft View Post
If these are 15 amp circuits then you need to swap out these 20 amp GFCIs.

Feed through means that that the GFCI protection is valid for a 20 amp circuit, even though the receptacle itself will only accept 15 amp plugs.
Thanks for the clarification. I'm going to swap these out.

What is the technical reason that you shouldn't have a 20 amp GFCI on a 15 amp circuit? Thanks, just trying to learn.
 
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Old 11-26-07, 07:53 AM
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You don't want someone attempting to pull 18 amps through 14 gage wire and a 15 amp breaker. Yes, the breaker should trip. However, breakers do go bad.
 
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Old 11-26-07, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by jumpyg View Post
What is the technical reason that you shouldn't have a 20 amp GFCI on a 15 amp circuit?
It has to do with the trip sensitivities on the breakers. For example, a 15A breaker may trip in 0.1 seconds if connected to a 100A load, 10 seconds on a 30A load, and 2 hours on a 17A load. Meanwhile, the #14 wire has been overloaded by 2A for a 2 hour period. Add to that the fact that breakers are mechanical devices which have some variation in manufacturing tolerance, and may deteriorate with age; so certain 15A breakers may never trip on a 17A or 19A load while other breakers may trip on a 13A load.

Disallowing 20A receptacles on a 15A circuit is one way to reduce the chances of a long-term overload on a circuit.
 
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Old 11-26-07, 08:07 AM
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Gotcha, thanks a lot for the replies!
 
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Old 11-26-07, 08:13 AM
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... which someone could also just as easily do with a 15amp receptacle and a power strip. (Just happened to do this myself yesterday. Silly me.)

I actually can't think of any specific _technical_ reason. The code offers no explanation either. It's more just a common sense thing -- you wouldn't put a big sticker on a receptacle saying "This is a 20A circuit" when in reality it's a 15A one, would you? The slotted neutral is the same thing.

Just zero reason to ever do it since it makes no sense. Except for when you bought the wrong stuff. And as we know there are ususally not exceptions written into the NEC just for people who ended up with the wrong devices in hand.
 
 

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