No GFCI outlets in older home...

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Old 12-14-10, 05:46 AM
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No GFCI outlets in older home...

As the title implies, there are no GFCI outlets at all in the home I'm living in...a friend purchased the house over a year ago and there are several of us that rent. With that being said, there are no GFCI receptacles in any of the bathrooms, the kitchen, or the garage, nor are there any GFCI breakers. Since the house was built back in the 50's, I know that really wasn't an option back then, and I haven't done a lot of reading but I was just curious if there was a requirement to update this? It is my understanding that anything within 3 ft of water, bathrooms for sure, and these days, garages are required to have GFCI protection.

With that being said, I know the right thing to do is to install GFCI's, which is what I will end up doing, but I was just looking for clarification. Also, it is my understanding that, for instance, if the first receptacle in the circuit is on the wall in the hallway outside the bathroom feeding the bathroom, it is acceptable to install the GFCI in place of the hallway receptacle, thereby giving the rest of the receptacles down the line GFCI protection as well, right?
 
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Old 12-14-10, 06:24 AM
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Generally, as long as the house was wired to-code when it was built and no significant renovations have been done, the wiring will be grandfathered. You don't have to bring the house up to the most recent code.

That said, many municipalities have implemented minimum requirements when buying or renting or obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy. Around here, there's a list of 20 or so things including GFI protection in kitchen, bathrooms, garage and exterior outlets; smoke alarms; CO detectors; etc.

It sounds like he was able to rent the house without requiring any changes (presuming he followed the local laws about renting). But as you said, it's certainly prudent to have GFI protection installed in the places you mentioned; basically anywhere that electricity is likely to come in contact with water.

You are also correct about a GFI receptacle on the first receptacle protecting the others, but you need to be sure to wire it correctly. Some people would scratch their heads to see a GFI receptacle in the hallway though. I know if I saw one there I'd immediately think "amateur job - what else is wrong?" even though it's technically not wrong. If I were to do it, I'd get a separate GFI receptacle for each bathroom, garage, and just use one for each circuit in the kitchen. You wouldn't believe the number of threads here about outlets that mysteriously stop working, only to find a GFI buried behind some boxes in the garage that protects the bathroom outlets.

One other word of caution... as a renter, you have significant liability if you do any wiring and something bad happens. Most locales will allow a homeowner to do work on a home that they reside in, but require licensed electricians to do work in any rental properties.

Good luck!
 
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Old 12-14-10, 06:18 PM
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about a year ago, my parents rented a place where the whole thing was on 2 fuses. one for the kitchen and lr, and one for the two bedrooms. the idiots of the last tenants put in 30a fuses, when the bedrooms were wired with 14awg, and the kitchen with 12. all 20a 120v ungrounded receptacles. how i hacked a ground is another story.
 
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Old 12-14-10, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by ayaggie View Post
It is my understanding that anything within 3 ft of water, bathrooms for sure, and these days, garages are required to have GFCI protection.
That is no longer the case under the 2008 NEC. All kitchen and bathroom receptacles are required to be GFCI protected regardless of distance to water (At one time it was 6') Also all outdoor, garage, unfinished basements and 6' from tub in a laundry room. I think the 6' rule also includes wet bars.

Originally Posted by ayaggie View Post
Also, it is my understanding that, for instance, if the first receptacle in the circuit is on the wall in the hallway outside the bathroom feeding the bathroom, it is acceptable to install the GFCI in place of the hallway receptacle, thereby giving the rest of the receptacles down the line GFCI protection as well, right?
You are correct but in your example i would just install the GFCI in the bathroom itself rather then in the hall. I would, however, do what you suggest in the kitchen. Watch out as many older homes were split wired in the kitchen. (One circuit on the top half of the receptacle and one circuit on the bottom half.)

how i hacked a ground is another story.
I don't even want to know.
 
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Old 12-15-10, 09:58 AM
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If the panel will accept a GFI breaker it may be easier although more expensive. The older boxes tended to be smaller and the older insulation was thicker which can make it hard to fit the GFI into the box.
 
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Old 12-20-10, 05:47 PM
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One thing to consider.....if the house is that old it may not have ground wires in the circuits. Two wire with no ground was pretty darn common....
 
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