2 questions about GFCI's and circuit breakers

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Old 08-14-11, 01:14 PM
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2 questions about GFCI's and circuit breakers

I'm looking into a house that was built in 1935. It has a 100 amp circuit breaker box. From what I can tell, there are no 3-pronged outlets in the entire house. There are no 3-pronged or GFCI outlets in the kitchen or bathroom both near sinks, and none in the basement where there is a sump pump and a washer and dryer and sink. My inspector told me that I should have GFCI outlets for:

-The washer, dyer, basement sink, and sump pump (EDIT: My mistake he said the sump needed a grounded outlet, not GFCI).

-The outlet near the sink in the kitchen since it's 6 feet or less away

-The outlet near the sink in the bathroom since it's 6 feet or less away

Question #1: Would installing GFCI's for the Washer and Dryer, the kitchen and bathroom outlets close to the sink, and any outlet where I'm running my computer or other three-prong devices, be enough to tackle this problem? I read on another forum that just installing a GFCI is not enough if the wiring inside the wall itself is not grounded, and that I should have this all rewired to be grounded, but of course I'm sure that would cost me a lot more money than just installing GFCI's... what should I do?

Question #2:The inspector told me that because the outside line from the meter box isn't properly sealed at the top, water has been getting into the breakers and has the cause some sort of damage to the wiress. He used the term "arc", although I'm not certain what he meant. The fix for stopping the water seems simple enough, but he said the wires inside the breaker box would need to be replaced because because of what's happened to the wires due to the water is a fire hazard. The wires didn't look like they were in bad shape to me, but I'm not expert on these things. Can anyone make sense of this for me?

Any help will be greatly appreciated!
 

Last edited by HomeHopeful; 08-14-11 at 01:32 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-14-11, 05:42 PM
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If the wiring in the house doesnít have an equipment ground, replacing an ungrounded type receptacle (2-prong) with a GFCI receptacle is an acceptable replacement method, and the GFCI will protect against ground faults as designed, but isnít going to provide a ground.

The wiring in the breaker box is hard to comment on without actually seeing and investigating it. In simple terms, arcing is electricity jumping through the air from one conductive surface to another. Arcing can cause serious damage to equipment, but again, without seeing the panel, itís hard to comment on to what extent the damage is or whether it needs to be replaced.

Many house inspectors do a pretty good job of noting things that may need attention, but few are experts in any one field. In your case, I would suggest having a licensed electrician inspect the breaker panel, and discuss the condition of the ungrounded wiring.
 
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Old 08-14-11, 06:49 PM
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In addition to Kyles comments, some equipment like refrigerators, TVs and computers state to only use on grounded circuits. The easiest thing to do is to add grounded receptacles on new circuits where they are needed.
 
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Old 08-15-11, 04:05 PM
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Thanks for the info. My inspector just sent me a picture and I do see the corrosion in the circuit box:



As for the kitchen, it looks like the Refrigerator is on a grounded outlet, I don't know about the Gas stove but it's probably connected to the same outlet.
 
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Old 08-15-11, 05:43 PM
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When was this house built? I see TW wire insulation, so I'm thinking there may be a ground wire that has been snipped or backwrapped(for lack of a better term).
 
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Old 08-15-11, 05:51 PM
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@Justin,

The house was built in 1935. It has knob and tube wiring in places, one of the photos showed it inside the crawl space.
 
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Old 08-15-11, 06:11 PM
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The house was built in 1935. It has knob and tube wiring in places, one of the photos showed it inside the crawl space.
I guess theres no chace of finding a ground wire, then.
 
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Old 08-16-11, 05:57 PM
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Adding GFI receptacles in the kitchen and bath are well worth the cost, even if they are not grounded. You'll need to affix the little "No Equipment Ground" sticker (that comes with the GFI) on the receptacle to indicate that it doesn't have a ground. It will still protect you if you drop an electrical device in the sink though.

The corrosion doesn't look too bad in the panel, at least based on the photos. Corrosion is never good, so you may want to clean it up or when you have an electrician over, use a small wire brush to clean the contacts and reseat the wires. Unless there's more that we don't see, I doubt it requires much, if any, replacement. You will want to seal the meter though so it doesn't get worse.

As Pcboss mentioned, I would set aside some rainy day money for adding new grounded receptacles where you're using electronic equipment. Especially for a flat screen TV, computer, etc. Over time, you may find that you need an extra circuit/receptacles in the kitchen when the toaster is on, or maybe an extra circuit in the bathroom so two people can use hairdryers at the same time. But unless something is in disrepair, there's no reason you need it on day one.
 
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