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Old 01-11-2012, 12:30 PM   #1
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


When we bought our house a few years ago (California, built in 1987), the inspector's report said we needed to add GFI recepticles to the bathrooms & kitchen. I brought out an electrician, who told us the inspector was wrong, and those outlets were protected by a GFI breaker in the garage, so we left the outlets as they were.

Last week I had another electrician out working on an unrelated project, mentioned the story to him, and he said that the kitchen was *not* GFI protected (though he didn't seem 100% sure), and offered to replace the outlets (at his hourly rate of course).

I am confused, but prefer to err on the side of caution. I would like to replace the recepticles w/ GFI ones, and think I can handle on my own, but in doing some research i had a few questions that I was hoping someone could help with:

- I understand that you only need to have one GFI on each circuit, as the initial one would protect 'downstream' recepticles. Without knowing which is the closest to the breaker, is it Ok to just replace them all to GFI's, or would the redunant coverage cause an issue? Is there an easy way to determine with outlets are closest to the breaker?

- Back to redundancy issue - if the outlets are protected by a GFI breaker on the panel, is there any problem having GFI recepticles as well?

- I read that some homes of my 'vintage' don't have a dedicated circuit for the fridge. If this is true, and I had a GFI on the fridge's circuit (I wouldn't replace that recepticle), could this really cause me an issue?

Thanks in advance - any help is appreciated.

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Old 01-11-2012, 12:38 PM   #2
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_8
When we bought our house a few years ago (California, built in 1987), the inspector's report said we needed to add GFI recepticles to the bathrooms & kitchen. I brought out an electrician, who told us the inspector was wrong, and those outlets were protected by a GFI breaker in the garage, so we left the outlets as they were.

Last week I had another electrician out working on an unrelated project, mentioned the story to him, and he said that the kitchen was *not* GFI protected (though he didn't seem 100% sure), and offered to replace the outlets (at his hourly rate of course).

I am confused, but prefer to err on the side of caution. I would like to replace the recepticles w/ GFI ones, and think I can handle on my own, but in doing some research i had a few questions that I was hoping someone could help with:

- I understand that you only need to have one GFI on each circuit, as the initial one would protect 'downstream' recepticles. Without knowing which is the closest to the breaker, is it Ok to just replace them all to GFI's, or would the redunant coverage cause an issue? Is there an easy way to determine with outlets are closest to the breaker?

- Back to redundancy issue - if the outlets are protected by a GFI breaker on the panel, is there any problem having GFI recepticles as well?

- I read that some homes of my 'vintage' don't have a dedicated circuit for the fridge. If this is true, and I had a GFI on the fridge's circuit (I wouldn't replace that recepticle), could this really cause me an issue?

Thanks in advance - any help is appreciated.
Nothing wrong with having multiple gfi. What I do suggest first is go to your garage and press the test button on the gfi and see if that turns off some of the outlets. The ones that are still on will need a gfi.

About the fridge it can be on or off the gfi code doesn't specify

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Last edited by Julius793; 01-11-2012 at 12:40 PM.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:38 PM   #3
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


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- Back to redundancy issue - if the outlets are protected by a GFI breaker on the panel, is there any problem having GFI recepticles as well?
Not necessary at all. Pick one.

The breaker might even be easier in your case.
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:45 PM   #4
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


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Originally Posted by chris_8 View Post
Is there an easy way to determine with outlets are closest to the breaker?
observation is usually enough... but must be confirmed by excavation
(open the suspected 1st one and take wires off the device)

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...and those outlets were protected by a GFI breaker in the garage, so we left the outlets as they were.
Then you're good to go.
(being older breakers... test them)

Quote:
I am confused, but prefer to err on the side of caution.
you're good to go.


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I would like to replace the recepticles...
why?

Quote:
Back to redundancy issue - if the outlets are protected by a GFI breaker on the panel, is there any problem having GFI recepticles as well?
Absent a problem... it's an extra expense.

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I read that... and if I had a GFI on the fridge's circuit could this really cause me an issue?
If so... then you already have one.

hth
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:23 PM   #5
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


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Originally Posted by chris_8 View Post
.... If this is true, and I had a GFI on the fridge's circuit (I wouldn't replace that recepticle), could this really cause me an issue?....
I never recommend protecting a fridge with a GFI. You're more likely to end up with a fridge full of spoiled food that way ....
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:27 PM   #6
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


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Originally Posted by Julius793 View Post
Nothing wrong with having multiple gfi. What I do suggest first is go to your garage and press the test button on the gfi and see if that turns off some of the outlets. The ones that are still on will need a gfi.

About the fridge it can be on or off the gfi code doesn't specify
There is no gfi code. And as for the fridge, it can either be on its own breaker by itself, or on a SABC. Just to clarify, yes there is a section in the NEC & California Electrical Code that specifies the use of GFCI protected outlets, but there is no specific gfi code per-say.
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Old 01-11-2012, 07:52 PM   #7
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


It's a waste of money to go slapping GFIs all over the place if the receptacles in the kitchen are downstream. They are not cheap and they certainly fail more frequently than standard outlets so just do a little bit of testing as mentioned to find out if they are indeed protected or not. It's easy enough and if they are it will save you time and money.
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Old 01-11-2012, 08:17 PM   #8
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


A simple outlet tester that has a GFI test buttom on it should tell you if these outlets are GFI protected. Just plug it in, push the buttom and if it's GFI it will trip the breaker.
Lowes Home Depot and real electrical suppy will have one. And your so called inspector or electricion should have had one.
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Old 01-11-2012, 11:48 PM   #9
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


Thanks for all of the feedback - electric is my achilles heel...

Came home and did some closer looking. Per one of the emails above, i used the test button on the panel - it appears that it only tripped the downstairs bathroom and garage light - i read somewhere that code in '87 required only one GFI, so that may be the case.

So the kitchen outlets are *not* GFI protected.

- what is the best way to find the 'upstream' receptacle to test?

- The fridge is on the same circuit as the other outlets on the same wall - are my only two options hiring an electrician to create a dedicated line, or risking the GFI tripping all the time? The fridge is in a tight spot, so pulling it back to access the outlet can be a huge hassle...

Thanks again - really appreciate the help.

Chris
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Old 01-12-2012, 12:32 AM   #10
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


Quote:
Originally Posted by chris_8
Thanks for all of the feedback - electric is my achilles heel...

Came home and did some closer looking. Per one of the emails above, i used the test button on the panel - it appears that it only tripped the downstairs bathroom and garage light - i read somewhere that code in '87 required only one GFI, so that may be the case.

So the kitchen outlets are *not* GFI protected.

- what is the best way to find the 'upstream' receptacle to test?

- The fridge is on the same circuit as the other outlets on the same wall - are my only two options hiring an electrician to create a dedicated line, or risking the GFI tripping all the time? The fridge is in a tight spot, so pulling it back to access the outlet can be a huge hassle...

Thanks again - really appreciate the help.

Chris
It's not the end of the world if the fridge is on a gfi however they make gfis with an alarm to notify you when it trips, that may be worth the money.
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Old 01-12-2012, 01:51 AM   #11
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


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Originally Posted by chris_8 View Post
- what is the best way to find the 'upstream' receptacle to test?
.
Do you mean find the first receptacle on the circuit?

Also you keep mentioning in some of your posts, ""Without knowing which is the closest to the breaker"". I just want to note to you that proximity to the breaker in your load center does not always dictate which device(receptacle) is the first in the circuit.

Last edited by hammerlane; 01-12-2012 at 01:56 AM.
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:01 AM   #12
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


Consult a professional. Or kill the power, pull off wall plates, remove receptacles. They should be pig tailed start in the middle of the room and separate the wires. Turn power back on one line from each circuit should have power. That's where the gfci goes the rest of the receps will feel downstream off the load side. Just remember don't buy the cheapest Gfci you find they are well worth paying for a decent recep I suggest p&s 1595. As far as the fridge. We pull new 15a lines for a dedicated cir and don't use gfcis.
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Old 01-12-2012, 02:23 AM   #13
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


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They should be pig tailed
You really think the electrician pigtailed power to the outlets?

He'll probably be lucky if the electrician used the screw terminals on the outlets and didn't backstab.
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:28 AM   #14
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Adding GFI's to the Kitchen - problems?


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Originally Posted by hammerlane

You really think the electrician pigtailed power to the outlets?

He'll probably be lucky if the electrician used the screw terminals on the outlets and didn't backstab.
I try to have faith that the electrician on the original install did things properly, but you have a good point half the time new construction is done by rope monkeys.

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