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Old 10-04-2008, 11:03 PM   #1
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


Our house was remodeled in 2006. The remodel included a kitchen and adding a full bath to the basement. When we did our home inspection before purchasing the house, the inspector tested all the lights and receptacles and eyeballed the labels in the panel to see if the circuits looked up to code. During another project I noted that the labels didn't actually match the circuits so I set out to map my circuits.

I found that one 20A circuit has the new bathroom lights and its one receptacle, which isn't GFCI, as well as the stove (it's gas so I don't think it's a big deal), microwave, and dishwasher. There are also two random basement receptacles on this circuit. All of the receptacles have 15A outlets.

The panel clearly lists the microwave as having its own circuit, claims the stove is on a circuit with "kitchen outlets", lists the basement receptacles on another circuit, and doesn't mention the dishwasher or the bathroom in question. The fridge is correctly labeled and appears to be on a dedicated circuit.

I'm not concerned about the labels, I can fix that. I am concerned about the microwave being on the same circuit as everything else and I'm not sure if the bathroom can share a circuit with all of that or if a GFCI receptacle is required, which is an easy enough fix. Any help would be appreciated.

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Old 10-04-2008, 11:33 PM   #2
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


Sounds like some "realtor type" did some handiwork with the panel labels to make things appear up to code!

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Old 10-04-2008, 11:37 PM   #3
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


Ok, the bath first. Your bath isn't compliant with code now, or when it was done in 2006, assuming the jurisdiction had modern codes adopted. The code allows all lights, fans, and receptacles in the bath to be on the same 20amp circuit. The receptacle(s) in the bath must of course be GFCI protected. Since the light/fan/GFCI receptacle are all combined on one circuit, nothing outside of the bathroom is permitted to be on that circuit. Nothing. If you had a dedicated 20amp circuit serving the GFCI receptacle in the bath, the lights, bath fan, and the stove in the kitchen could all be on a separate circuit legally.

As for the kitchen, it is common to have a dedicated circuit for the microwave, just because they draw a lot of amperage. It is not required to do that, but it is a nice feature. The kitchen countertop is required to be served by two 20amp circuits, and all receptacles must be GFCI protected.

I know these requirements are in the 1999 NEC, I don't have any code books older than that anymore. They're certainly in the newer editions.
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Old 10-05-2008, 12:09 AM   #4
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


I'm not sure if the bathroom was added or remodeled but if that work was done at the same time as the kitchen then I think it's a big enough project to constitute a permit. I'm going to guess that there wasn't a permit because I can't imagine an inspector letting this slide. It's unfortunate because the sellers were very nice people but this combined with other serious electrical problems we've since discovered are probably going to result in legal action.
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Old 10-05-2008, 12:36 AM   #5
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


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Originally Posted by jheavner View Post
...It's unfortunate because the sellers were very nice people but this combined with other serious electrical problems we've since discovered are probably going to result in legal action.
I was thinking the same thing (lawyer). I wonder who posted those labels on the panel?
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Old 10-05-2008, 01:01 AM   #6
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


Your best bet is just to fix it. As far as electrical issues in a home go, this is small stuff. None of what you describe is really a big deal, and certainly isn't something that can't be overcome. Aside from the lack of a GFCI in the bath...Which is easy to take care of...None of it is going to cause any trouble except for potential nuisance trips of the breakers. You can make the necessary changes for a relatively small cost.

If your home inspector (pre-purchase) didn't catch it before you closed on it, you're going to have a hard time holding anyone liable. Even if they intentionally mis-labeled the panel, can you prove it?

I'd focus my time, energy, and money on taking care of the problems and skip the idea of trying to win some sort of judgement in court.
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Old 10-05-2008, 01:06 AM   #7
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


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Originally Posted by jheavner View Post
I'm going to guess that there wasn't a permit because I can't imagine an inspector letting this slide.
Well, inspectors, as vigilant and good hearted I'm sure some are, just don't usually go so deep as to see where each cable goes, especially where several cables may go through the same stud hole. Inspectors are looking for the obvious: is that metal box bonded, are the cables secured properly, is the main bonding jumper installed, where is the cold water ground, etc. But to actually trace a circuit from the panel to the kitchen then to the bathroom, well, that's certainly unheard of to me, and I'm sure others have rarely if ever seen that kind of attention.

If there was an inspection, he should have caught the lack of a GFCI in the bath, however. Then again, I've had inspectors to sign off on my rough and final at the same time, without ever coming back after finish. So, just cause it looks good doesn't mean it was inspected and just because it was inspected doesn't mean it is all right.
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Old 10-05-2008, 01:20 AM   #8
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


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Well, inspectors, as vigilant and good hearted I'm sure some are, just don't usually go so deep as to see where each cable goes, especially where several cables may go through the same stud hole. Inspectors are looking for the obvious: is that metal box bonded, are the cables secured properly, is the main bonding jumper installed, where is the cold water ground, etc. But to actually trace a circuit from the panel to the kitchen then to the bathroom, well, that's certainly unheard of to me, and I'm sure others have rarely if ever seen that kind of attention.
As an inspector, I agree 100%. I'll check to make sure circuits that should be dedicated are dedicated, but unless things are going really poorly for sparky, I normally don't pick the circuits apart. You could spend hours doing that.
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Old 10-05-2008, 05:23 PM   #9
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


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it is common to have a dedicated circuit for the microwave, just because they draw a lot of amperage. It is not required to do that, but it is a nice feature.
Unless it is mounted.
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Old 10-06-2008, 10:22 AM   #10
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


Yeah, it's a mounted microwave. Legal action would not be my first choice and I'm happy to pay for repairs if the costs are reasonable but once repairs start running into the thousands of dollars then I'm going to seek seller concessions. They (or a contractor working on their behalf) made this mess and it seems like steps were taken to make everything appear legit that aren't. I have an electrician coming on Wednesday and I'm going to see what realistically needs to be done and how much it's going to cost.
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Old 10-06-2008, 04:45 PM   #11
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


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As for the kitchen, it is common to have a dedicated circuit for the microwave, just because they draw a lot of amperage. It is not required to do that, but it is a nice feature. The kitchen countertop is required to be served by two 20amp circuits, and all receptacles must be GFCI protected.
Could you elaborate a bit more on "countertop required to be served by two 20A circuits"?

Our kitchen has an existing 20A circuit which powers countertop receptacles and the dishwasher. As part of a remodel, I'm adding a mounted microwave/vent fan over the stove, which will get a new, dedicated 20A circuit. Are these two 20A circuits enough, or do I need a third 20A cable to supply some of the countertop receptacles?

Also, do ALL kitchen receptacles have to be GFCI protected, or just the ones within 6 ft of the sink? If so, does it make more sense to just install a GFCI breaker, rather than installing individual GFCIs in each receptacle?
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Old 10-06-2008, 05:31 PM   #12
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


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Could you elaborate a bit more on "countertop required to be served by two 20A circuits"?

Our kitchen has an existing 20A circuit which powers countertop receptacles and the dishwasher. As part of a remodel, I'm adding a mounted microwave/vent fan over the stove, which will get a new, dedicated 20A circuit. Are these two 20A circuits enough, or do I need a third 20A cable to supply some of the countertop receptacles?

Also, do ALL kitchen receptacles have to be GFCI protected, or just the ones within 6 ft of the sink? If so, does it make more sense to just install a GFCI breaker, rather than installing individual GFCIs in each receptacle?
The code specifies that a kitchen is to have at minimum two 20 A circuits to power the receptacles. You can have as many as you want, but no less than two. You should have the dishwasher on a separate circuit. And since you are remodeling, you should add another circuit for the countertops.

And yes, all kitchen receptacles have to be GFCI protected if they are on the countertop or island, or within 6 ft of the sink (I however don't think that certain dedicated receptacles for equipment need be, even if on the counter). The fridge, microwave and any other dedicated equipment doesn't have to be.
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Old 10-06-2008, 06:31 PM   #13
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


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Originally Posted by InPhase277 View Post
You should have the dishwasher on a separate circuit. And since you are remodeling, you should add another circuit for the countertops.

And yes, all kitchen receptacles have to be GFCI protected if they are on the countertop or island, or within 6 ft of the sink.
Okay, thanks. So counting up, I need:

1) Dedicated 20A circuit for the mounted microwave.
2) Dedicated 20A circuit for the dishwasher.
3) 20A circuit for receptacles (on the main countertop).
4) 20A circuit for receptacles (on the peninsula countertop).

That's going to exhaust the empty slots in the main electrical panel. Seems like overkill to me -- we've never even tripped the single 20A circuit that's there now. But if the code demands it, okay.

Is it purely a cost issue as to whether to protect all receptacles with a GFCI breaker, versus using individual GFCI receptacles? Or a convenience issue (if one GFCI receptacle trips, it won't trip the others, or require a visit to the main electrical panel)? Thanks again.
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Old 10-06-2008, 09:29 PM   #14
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


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Is it purely a cost issue as to whether to protect all receptacles with a GFCI breaker, versus using individual GFCI receptacles? Or a convenience issue (if one GFCI receptacle trips, it won't trip the others, or require a visit to the main electrical panel)? Thanks again.
Both. A GFCI breaker costs $35 while a recept $12. And you don't need a GFCI receptacle at each outlet, only the first one. The receptacles downstream of the first GFCI will be protected by it.
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Old 10-06-2008, 09:49 PM   #15
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Is this kitchen remodel code compliant?


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And yes, all kitchen receptacles have to be GFCI protected if they are on the countertop or island, or within 6 ft of the sink (I however don't think that certain dedicated receptacles for equipment need be, even if on the counter). The fridge, microwave and any other dedicated equipment doesn't have to be.
Any and all receptacles that serve the kitchen countertop must be GFCI protected per IRC E3802.6 (same in the NEC). Any receptacle located over the countertop is going to be deemed to serve the countertop, and there is no provision for dedicated receptacles in that area. Dedicated receptacles can be placed behind the fridge and in a cabinet for permanently mounted microwaves, and do not require GFCI protection. If a microwave is plugged into a countertop-serving receptacle, it is not considered dedicated and must be GFCI protected.

The 6 foot rule is not applicable in kitchens. It is from E3802.7, which governs bar areas (non food preparation). It doesn't matter how far a receptacle serving the countertop is from a sink in a kitchen...It has to be GFCI.

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