Electric – CheckThisHouse https://www.checkthishouse.com Home maintenance, remodeling, repair, and improvement tips for your property Thu, 29 Oct 2020 11:19:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.16 Should I Use a 20 amp or 15 amp GFCI Outlet on a 20 amp Rated Breaker? https://www.checkthishouse.com/5750/20amp-or-15amp-gfci-outlet-20amp-breaker.html Tue, 26 Oct 2010 21:06:42 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5750 Whenever installing a GFCI outlet receptacle on a 20 amp breaker, what should be used, a 20 amp GFCI, or is a 15 amp GFCI OK too?The rules that apply to installation of a GFCI outlet receptacle on a 15 or / and 20 amp rated circuit breaker are the same as the ones that ... Read more]]>

Whenever installing a GFCI outlet receptacle on a 20 amp breaker, what should be used, a 20 amp GFCI, or is a 15 amp GFCI OK too?The rules that apply to installation of a GFCI outlet receptacle on a 15 or / and 20 amp rated circuit breaker are the same as the ones that apply to a regular outlet receptacle. Additionally, there may be some regulations applicable only to a particular area this GFCI is going to be installed, or your local jurisdiction requirements.

  • The wires (electrical conductors) between the 20 amp rated circuit breaker and this GFCI outlet receptacle (or any outlet receptacle) must be at least 20 amp rated (gauge 12). It doesn’t matter if the end device is 15 or 20 amps rated.
  • 15 amps outlet receptacles are rated for 20 amps feed-through. In other words, they supposed to withstand the loads of a 20A rated device.

The following is based on the 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code) Edition.

Article 210.21 states that the amperage rating of outlet devices shall not be less than the load to be served by those outlets.

  • Item (1) under 210.21 (B) Receptacles applies to a Single Receptacle on an Individual Branch Circuit.

If you have a single outlet receptacle (regular or GFCI) installed on an individual branch circuit (a circuit breaker protecting only this one outlet receptacle), this outlet must have the same rating as the circuit rating.

20 amp rated breaker → 20 amp rated (gauge 12) wire → single 20 amp rated outlet receptacle (regular or GFCI)

An Example: the bathroom requires a 20A rated branch circuit. If this bathroom has only one electrical outlet receptacle installed, it must be 20A rated as well.

There are two exceptions in this paragraph that concern motor controllers and arc welders – let me know if you need more information about it.

Item (2) from the same paragraph refers to 2 or more outlet receptacles supplied by a single branch circuit / protected by a single circuit breaker.

Total Cord-and-Plug-Connected Load. Where connected to a branch circuit supplying two or more receptacles or outlets, a receptacle shall not supply a total cord and-plug-connected load in excess of the maximum specified in Table 210.21(B)(2).

Table 210.21(B)(2) Maximum Cord-and-Plug-Connected
• Circuit Rating (in Amperes) •

• Receptacle Rating (in Amperes) •

• Maximum Load (in Amperes) •

15 or 20 15 12
20 20 16
30 30 24

 

Based on that table, two or more 15 amp rated GFCI outlet receptacles can be installed on a 20 amp rated circuit breaker if the load of the devices connected to each one of those outlet receptacles is less than 12 amps (80% of its rating).

Hair dryer label, which shows that it has 1875 Watts of power, draws almost 15 amps and should have a 20 amp rated plug instead of a 15 amp type plugLet’s apply that to a bathroom; theoretically, you could have two or more15 amps rated GFCI outlets installed / supplied by a 20A, single branch circuit. However, your local jurisdiction might require those receptacles to be 20 amps rated instead.

Hair dryer, which has 1875 Watts of power draws almost 15 amps and should have a 20 amp rated plug, instead of an installed15 amp type plug

This is because some of the devices (1875Watts hair dryer for example) you may want to plug into those 15 amp rated outlets draw more that the maximum permitted 12 amps. Shouldn’t those more powerful hair dryers have a plug designed for a 20 amp rated outlet receptacle? I think they should.

The same applies to the kitchen outlets, laundry room and other areas that require a 20 amps rated branch circuit – check with your local building department.

Also, you’ll find devices / appliances that are equipped with a 20 amp rated / type cord and plug. Remember, those cannot be plugged into a 15 amp rated outlet receptacle (the plug will not fit), so consider that before outlet installation.

Item (3) from the Article 210.21 covers receptacle ratings for various size circuits – shown in the Table below.

Table 210.21(B)(3) Receptacle Ratings for Various Size Circuits
• Circuit Rating (in Ampers) • • Receptacle Rating (in Ampers) •
15 Not over 15
20 15 or 20
30 30
40 40 or 50
50 50

 

What that means is that you should not install an outlet receptacle rated higher than the branch circuit it is attached to.

An Example: you should not install a 20A rated outlet receptacle (regular or GFCI) on a branch circuit protected by a 15A circuit breaker.

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GFCI Maintenance | Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Testing https://www.checkthishouse.com/5571/gfci-maintenance-ground-fault-circuit-interrupter-testing.html Wed, 15 Sep 2010 01:21:22 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=5571 GFCI maintenance is a very simple and extremely important procedure. Just like many other house maintenance tasks, maintaining functional and properly operating GFCI outlet receptacles will ensure that you and your family are protected from a ground fault. Ground Fault - it's when the electricity, instead of following its normal path - electrical wire - passes through a person's body to the ground. That person becomes a conductor (wire) and you may know this condition as an electrical shock. * Never paint GFCI outlet receptacle! If you've just moved into the house and installed GFCI's are covered with paint - replace them immediately. Removing paint from their surface is not enough, even if Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter appears to be responding to the test buttons. * Never insert into an outlet receptacle objects other than a plug designed for its configuration. * Avoid spilling liquids onto the device - it could result in permanent damage or malfunctioning. Testing is the most important part of the GFCI maintenance routine and it should be performed on monthly basis. The reason is very simple - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet receptacles are just like any other electronic devices - sometimes they fail.]]>

GFCI maintenance is an extremely important and simple procedure

It is a very simple and extremely important procedure. Just like many other house maintenance tasks, maintaining functional and properly operating GFCI outlet receptacles will ensure that you and your family are protected from a ground fault.

Ground Fault – it’s when the electricity, instead of following its normal path – electrical wire – passes through a person’s body to the ground. That person becomes a conductor (wire) and you may know this condition as an electrical shock.

  • Never paint  GFCI outlet receptacle! If you’ve just moved into the house and installed GFCI’s are covered with paint – replace them immediately. Removing paint from their surface is not enough, even if Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter appears to be responding to the test buttons.
  • Never insert into an outlet receptacle objects other than a plug designed for its configuration.
  • Avoid spilling liquids onto the device – it could result in permanent damage or malfunctioning.

Testing is the most important part of the GFCI maintenance routine and it should be performed on monthly basis. The reason is very simple – Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlet receptacles are just like any other electronic devices – sometimes they fail.

There are two simple ways to perform this test:

GFCI Maintenance – Testing Method #1

1. Plug a lamp into the GFCI outlet receptacle 2. Push the “TEST” button on the GFCI – it should trip and cut the power to the lamp. In some devices the RESET button will pop out, in others the button will appear to be staying in the same position, you just hear the click immediately after depressing “TEST” button. 3. If the lamp is still ON after pressing “TEST” button (some devices also have an indicator light), your GFCI outlet receptacle could be improperly wired or damaged, and you are not protected – call a licensed electrician

GFCI Maintenance – Testing Method#2

This will cost you a few bucks (literally), but with a simple testing device you’ll be able to detect a potential life threatening problem immediately, and test all of your outlets – it’s worth it! Basic GFCI testers can be purchased in any local hardware store or online for under $10.00.

1. Insert your tester into the GFCI outlet (or GFCI protected outlet).

2. View the indicators on the tester and compare them with the chart attached to its body – this is to verify that the power is ON and that the outlet is wired properly.

3. If the readout indicates a problem, consult a licensed electrician.

4. If circuit appears to be wired properly, push the GFCI TEST button on top of the device – the GFCI outlet should trip and tester lights go OFF.

5. If the tester fails to trip GFCI outlet, there is either some wiring problem or faulty GFCI outlet – call a licensed electrician I highly recommend to familiarize yourself with currently required GFCI locations and if you decide to upgrade your home with those safety devices, I have a GFCI installation manual ready for you – enjoy it :-).

This is it, you’ve just learned how to perform basic GFCI maintenance and testing – don’t forget to do it on monthly basis.

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NEC Requirement for GFCI Without Ground Installation https://www.checkthishouse.com/4661/nec-requirement-for-gfci-without-ground-installation.html Tue, 02 Mar 2010 01:51:37 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=4661 There is a common misconception about GFCI without ground installations, so let me clarify it for you.
You might have an older house with electrical wiring that hasn’t been updated. You decided to replace an existing electrical outlet receptacle in your bathroom, kitchen, garage, etc. with a GFCI outlet.

However, there are only two wires inside the electrical junction box – no ground, and no easy way to install additional conductor, which would provide grounding.

Whenever you’re replacing an electrical outlet receptacle in an area currently requiring GFCI protection, such protection must be provided by using a GFCI outlet receptacle or by protecting this particular circuit by a GFCI breaker – it’s mandatory.

GFCI without ground

Lack of a grounding conductor is definitely a negative, but good thing about GFCI outlets is that: equipment grounding is not required for their installation and for the device to function properly. The grounded person becomes the equipment grounding conductor, and the current going through them creates the imbalance that trips the GFCI.

So, in our “GFCI without ground” case, those installed GFCI receptacles (if wired properly) will perform as required by code when tested with their push-buttons. A testing device used on such GFCI outlet will show “open ground”, and it would not trip the device.

Be extremely careful while testing a GFCI outlet or any receptacle with a metal trim plate. If it happens to be a GFCI without ground, or the circuit not properly (or at all) protected by a GFCI device,  and you accidentally touch that metal plate while pushing test button, you might get shocked.

By depressing the test button on a GFCI without ground, the metal cover plate would be energized, and if by any chance you are touching another grounded surface…, it’s going to hurt.

No-equipment ground label is required on GFCI outlets and outlets protected by GFCI without groundGFCI protected label is required on outlets down the stream from a GFCIHowever, to fully comply with NEC requirements in cases where no equipment ground is present, the installed GFCI without ground MUST be marked “No Equipment Ground”.

Any receptacles down the stream from it / protected by this GFCI, must have two labels on its face-plate: “GFCI Protected” and “No Equipment Ground”.

Below are the 2008 edition NEC (National Electrical Code) requirements for the GFCI without ground installations.

Non–Grounding-Type Receptacles.
Where attachment to an equipment grounding conductor does not exist in the receptacle enclosure, the installation shall comply with the following:

    1. A non–grounding-type receptacle(s) shall be permitted to be replaced with another non–grounding-type receptacle(s).

  1. A non–grounding-type receptacle(s) shall be permitted to be replaced with a ground-fault circuit interrupter type of receptacle(s). These receptacles shall be marked “No Equipment Ground.” An equipment grounding conductor shall not be connected from the ground-fault circuit interrupter-type receptacle to any outlet supplied from the ground-fault circuit-interrupter receptacle.
  2. A non–grounding-type receptacle(s) shall be permitted to be replaced with a grounding-type receptacle(s) where supplied through a ground-fault circuit interrupter.

Grounding-type receptacles supplied through the ground fault circuit interrupter shall be marked “GFCI Protected” and “No Equipment Ground.” An equipment grounding conductor shall not be connected between the grounding type receptacles.

If you need more explanation on GFCI without ground installations, let me know, and Be Careful!

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GFCI Outlet Safety Issue | GFCI Receptacle With no Smart Lock https://www.checkthishouse.com/4153/gfci-outlet-safety-issue-gfci-receptacle-with-no-smart-lock.html Mon, 10 Aug 2009 00:43:27 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=4153 I’ve been running into this particular GFCI outlet safety issue quite often lately, and since it can easily stay undetected creating serious safety hazard, I’ll explain it for you.

GFCI outlet safety - 15amp GFCI receptacle with the Smart Lock featureGFCI outlet safety installation - 20amp GFCI receptacle with the Smart Lock featureThis GFCI outlet safety problem applies to older receptacles, manufactured before 2003 – the year when “Smart Lock” type GFCI receptacle has been introduced by Leviton. GFCI receptacles equipped with the “Smart Lock” feature include a small padlock sign on the face of the device.

So, if you have any GFCI outlet receptacles without the “Smart Lock” logo, make sure that you test them properly / don’t just assume that they are functional.

A GFCI outlet safety issue – hidden one

GFCI receptacle safety installation - LINE and LOAD wires connectionsGFCI outlet receptacle has two pairs of terminals to connect wires. One of them is called LOAD, and second pair of terminals LINE. For the outlet to protect you from a ground fault, power-supplying wires (hot and neutral) must be connected to the LINE side of the device.

What is Ground Fault?
If you touch an appliance with some failing electrical components, the electricity might pass through your body to reach the ground, instead of following its normal safe path.

With an old GFCI outlet receptacle that does not include the “Smart Lock” technology misplaced power supplying wires (hot and neutral power supply installed on the LOAD instead of a LINE side) would not prevent the device from operating.

Older GFCI outlet issue, with no Smart Lock feature installed - 1Older GFCI outlet issue, with no Smart Lock feature installed - 2Improperly wired GFCI outlet would still provide power to any device plugged in into its socket, and it would trip when tested. The dangerous part is that after it tripped, which should disconnect the power to its socket, the power actually stays ON.

Notice on both pictures that GFCI testing device shows two orange lights ON with RESET button in up & down position.

Such condition could be also a result of a high-voltage power surge or corrosion / damaged device, in which case the GFCI outlet receptacle would have to be replaced. However, start from checking the wiring, and test it properly – just follow the instructions in my GFCI outlet installation post.

GFCI outlet safety issue post wouldn’t be complete without you going and checking all of your GFCI receptacles – good luck .

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Closet Fires & Closet Light Fixture Fire Hazards https://www.checkthishouse.com/2827/closet-light-fixture-fire-hazards-and-simple-solution.html Fri, 13 Feb 2009 06:14:38 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2827 closet fires and hazardsCloset fire can be easily caused by a closet light fixture Incandescent closet light fixtures can easily cause closet fire and this fire hazard is very often ignored by the home owner. Is your closet light fixture safe? Keep reading so you can verify that it’s not going to cause any closet fire. We rarely pay attention to our closet light fixtures for as long as they work. Stacking cardboard boxes and plastic bags filled with old clothing or Christmas gifts wrapping paper against that exposed, glowing light bulb can easily and pretty fast result in a closet fire. Would you please go and [...]]]> closet fires and hazards

Incandescent closet light fixtures can easily cause closet fire and this fire hazard is very often ignored by the home owner.

Closet fire can be easily caused by a closet light fixture - pull chain lights with a fully or even partially exposed incandescent light bulb are not permittedCloset fire - closet light fixtures with exposed incandescent light bulb are not permitted, plastic bags too close posing fire hazard

We rarely pay attention to our closet light fixtures for as long as they work. Stacking cardboard boxes and plastic bags filled with old clothing or Christmas gifts wrapping paper against that exposed, glowing light bulb can easily and pretty fast result in a closet fire.

Would you please go and check you closet light fixtures right now…

Closet light fixtures can result in closet fire - plush teddy bear touching exposed incandescent light bulb will be set on fire within a few minutes, or soonerCloset light fixtures can produce closet fire - exposed incandescent light bulb is not permitted, too close to storage, poses fire hazardDon’t start a closet fire and burn your house down either; it doesn’t take that much effort. Improperly installed closet lights and wrong types of closet light fixtures might easily create a closet fire. All it takes is a turned ON exposed incandescent type light bulb, and a piece of your clothing, or other combustible type material touching it or just being close to it.

Every time you turn that closet light fixture ON, ignition temperature of a combustible material next to the light bulb will gradually drop. You might not even notice when the closet fire starts until is too late… at least make sure that you have functional smoke alarms.

There’s a simple and not that expensive way to take closet fire out of the equation – replace closet light fixture with a proper type or correct installation of the existing one if possible. Since you should always update to the latest building / electrical code, this is what 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code) says about the closet lights.

Permitted closet light fixtures that minimize possibility of a closet fire :

Closet fire - fully enclosed incandescent closet light fixture is permitted but it must be at least 12 inches from the storage

  • Surface mounted or recessed type incandescent light fixtures with a completely enclosed light bulb – this eliminates still popular pull chain (or no chain) plastic / porcelain base light fixtures with an incandescent (regular type) light bulb from being used in closets. Simply because there is no enclosure that would completely cover the light bulb and the lampshade is not a solution!

  • Surface mounted or recessed fluorescent type light fixtures
  • Surface mounted fluorescent or LED type light fixtures that are listed / identified as permitted in a storage area

Not permitted closet light fixtures, these can easily result in a clothes closet fire:

Closet fire and closet light fixtures safety - Even a recessed incandescent light bulb must be fully enclosed

Open or partially open incandescent type light fixtures (already explained above), and pendants

Locations / minimum clearances between the closet light fixtures and the closest storage space that improve your chances for preventing closet fire:

Closet fire prevention - fully enclosed surface incandescent light fixture is OK but must be 12 inches from the storage or replaced with fluorescent for 6 inches clearanceCloset light installed on the wall above the closet door or on the ceiling

  1. Completely enclosed surface-mounted incandescent or LED closet light -12”
  2. Surface mounted fluorescent – 6”

Closet light recessed in the wall or ceiling

  1. Completely enclosed incandescent or LED light source – 6”
  2. Recessed fluorescent – 6”

Surface mounted fluorescent or LED closet lights are permitted only if identified for such installation.

There’s actually one more, very safe and not listed in the electrical code book – battery type 🙂

Now it is time for you to check if your closet light fixture presents a hazard and can be responsible for a closet fire.

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4 Easy Steps for GFCI Outlet Installations https://www.checkthishouse.com/2730/gfci-outlet-installation-how-to-in-4-easy-steps.html Wed, 11 Feb 2009 03:46:19 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2730 gfci outlet installInstall GFCI by following this 4-step GFCI outlet installation guide I didn't prepare this GFCI outlet installation guide in 4 easy steps for conditions where everything is perfect and nothing can go wrong. That's why it is a little longer than others. GFCI - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter So don't start installing GFCI without reading description of items 1-4, it's extremely important for your safety. Good luck on your GFCI outlet installation project! 1. Disconnect power supply to the electrical outlet you are planning to remove and install GFCI receptacle in its place. The safest method is to turn off the main breaker in [...]]]> gfci outlet install

I didn’t prepare this GFCI outlet installation guide in 4 easy steps for conditions where everything is perfect and nothing can go wrong. That’s why it is a little longer than others.

GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)

So don’t start installing GFCI without reading description of items 1-4, it’s extremely important for your safety. Good luck on your GFCI outlet installation project!

1. Disconnect power supply to the electrical outlet you are planning to remove and install GFCI receptacle in its place. The safest method is to turn off the main breaker in the electrical panel or remove the main fuse

2. Remove wires from an old electrical outlet

3. Correctly install wires on the new GFCI receptacle terminals

4. Secure the new GFCI receptacle in place, install GFCI receptacle cover plate and test installation

Easy, isn’t it… and safe if you follow the steps below.

GFCI outlet installation - testing before installationInstall GFCI receptacle using basic toolsThe minimum required tools for this 4 step GFCI outlet installation are:

  • The table lamp – for testing (or some other devices like those on my picture)
  • The screwdriver (flat and Philips recommended)
  • Electrical tape – to insulate GFCI receptacle terminals
  • Electrical pliers and wire strippers – this might not be necessary, but in some cases it will make this GFCI installation much easier
  • Wire nuts and 6″ of #14 or #12 copper wire – if some slightly more advanced testing  or installation is necessary

#1. This is the most important part of the GFCI outlet installation process – you have to make sure that the wires you’re installing receptacle on HAVE NO POWER!

The best way would be to turn off the main breaker or pull out the main fuse in the electrical panel. By doing this you wouldn’t have to worry about testing and figuring out unmarked circuits. If you have plenty of daylight or a good flashlight / another source of light for this project – this is the safest, easiest, and the fastest way to go before attempting to install GFCI.

Before turning off the breakers or removing fuses and starting GFCI outlet installation – manually turn off electronic devices (computers, video game consoles, etc.) – they might be sensitive to an abrupt power loss. Also, if you have a burglar alarm or any other device that requires constant power supply or it will otherwise notify your provider, make a phone call and let them know that your power will be out for a few minutes (that is how long it usually takes to install a GFCI receptacle).

Even if your electrical panel has a fuse or circuit breaker, pointing (labeled) directly to the spot that the new GFCI outlet installation  is going to take place, check that circuit with some type of a testing device or a table lamp after the breaker (or fuse) have been turned off / removed.

There are a few reasons for this double-checking before beginning GFCI outlet installation:

How to install GFCI outlet - even if the electrical panel breaker is labeled, make sure that it turns off described on label receptacleSince the time of electrical panel original installation or labeling, there could be some changes / remodeling performed, and description inside the panel is no longer pointing out to the same spot. By turning the breaker off or removing the fuse, you might be disconnecting power from something other than the outlet you’re assuming it is protected by this fuse / breaker. Double check it, triple check it, because installing GFCI outlet on hot wires might hurt or even kill you.

GFCI outlet installation - removed tabs on electrical outlet hot and neutral terminalsAlways test for power in both sockets of your existing outlet. There might be a separate power supply for each side of your receptacle. Small tabs between the wire terminals on both sides of the receptacle are sometimes removed and two separate sets of wires from two breakers / fuses connected on each side.

You cannot perform GFCI outlet installation in such configuration – don’t even try! You have either to eliminate one of the circuits or install two separate GFCI receptacles – get a licensed electrician for that.

If your testing device plugged into the power outlet shows no activity with the breaker / fuse in either “on” or “off” position there might be a broken wire at the receptacle terminal, faulty outlet itself or many other reasons. In such case, to make sure that there’s no power in the wiring supplying this receptacle (since you can’t test it without removing it from the box), I would advise you to turn of the main breaker / pull the main fuse or call an electrician (if you have previously decided otherwise).

After you’re 100% sure that the power is OFF, GFCI outlet installation itself becomes quick and easy… almost always.

#2. GFCI outlet installation – removing wires from an old outlet

  • Unscrew the outlet cover plate
  • Unscrew the receptacle and carefully pull it out from the box

Because electrical box plate edges might be sharp and damage the wire insulation (while you pulling it out) this is extremely important when dealing with old, cloth & rubber-insulated wiring. This old insulation will sometimes disintegrate while you’re working on your outlet – if you notice cracks / gaps in insulating material, call the electrician, don’t force those bare wires back into the box!

Also, if instead of a copper you’ll notice an aluminum wire connected to the electrical outlet… it’s a whole different story, call a qualified electrician / don’t install GFCI receptacle on an aluminum wire – it’s a safety hazard, and such installations are not permitted.

GFCI outlet installation – 2 wires inside the box

If you only have 2 wires (not counting the ground wire – green, bare or other color marked with a green tape / connected to the green screw) attached to the receptacle (one should be white or light gray plus a second color), those are called LINE wires.

Remove both of them from the receptacle and proceed to the next #3 step of the GFCI outlet installation.

GFCI outlet installation – 3 wires inside the box

If you have 3 wires – white and two color (plus ground), and open tab(s) between the receptacle hot terminals (between color wires), there’s either 2 separate circuits (explained earlier), or half of the outlet may be controlled by the switch. You can eliminate switching by capping the switch leg (color wire from the switch) with a wire nut (make it tight and use some electrical tape so it doesn’t fall off the wire) or cap the other wire if you need to have a GFCI controlled by the switch.

GFCI outlet installation – 4 wires inside the box

GFCI outlet installation - with two sets of wires on the receptacle you need to determine which one is LOAD and LINEIf you have 4 wires (plus ground), and closed tabs between the receptacle terminals, one pair of wires is a LINE (main power supply) and second is called LOAD (feeds power to other receptacle).

To determine which one is LOAD and LINE – you must know this to properly install GFCI receptacle (use this also to identify switched / constant power wires location) – follow those steps:

Remove one set of wires from the receptacle terminals – one white and one color wire coming out of the single conduit or cable inside the electrical box – this is very important / don’t use white and color from different cables / conduits!

  • Place wire nuts on each of the removed wires
  • Carefully push the wires back into the electrical box
  • Re-install the receptacle / cover plate
  • Turn ON the power at the electrical panel
  • Using your favorite tester check if there’s power at the receptacle

If there’s no power – capped / disconnected wires are the LINE and two wires still attached to the receptacle are the LOAD

To determine switched and hot wire (one white and two color wires connected to the outlet / tab broken between color wires), perform the same test as above except for removing white wire from the outlet terminal. If you can toggle the lamp ON/OFF with a wall switch, your single, disconnected and capped wire inside the box has a constant power ON.

Turn the power back OFF at the service panel, carefully remove the receptacle from the electrical box, mark pairs of wires LOAD & LINE, or LINE & SWITCH LEG and remove the remaining wires from the receptacle.

#3. GFCI outlet installation – attaching wires to the new GFCI receptacle terminals

GFCI receptacle terminals are marked LINE & LOAD, with the LOAD being usually covered with a yellow tape, if you don’t need them (only two wires in the box), you can leave the tape on.

After preparing wire ends (first two pictures) secure the two LINE marked wires to the LINE marked terminals on the GFCI receptacle:

  • White or light gray color wire to the GFCI receptacle white / silver terminal screw
  • Color wire to the GFCI receptacle black (gold / brass) terminal screw

Secure LOAD marked wires to the LOAD marked GFCI receptacle terminal.

Secure ground wire (if you have one, or if your local code requires one) to the GREEN screw on the GFCI receptacle. If using any other than green color insulated wire for grounding purposes, mark both ends of the wire with green color electrical tape.

EMT pipe (electrical metal conduit) – some jurisdictions require extra ground wire between the receptacle and a metal box, or receptacle – box – electrical panel.

NM cable (nonmetallic sheathed cable) – the most common residential wiring today (not really in Illinois) – if used with a metal box, bare ground wire bonded to the box terminal and / or directly to the GFCI receptacle ground screw (the only option for plastic boxes).

AC Cable known as BX – it has an aluminum bond wire – don’t use it as a GFCI receptacle ground

Remember, if your house electrical wiring system has no ground, properly installed GFCI receptacle WILL PROTECT YOU from electrical shock, but it will not provide grounding path for the connected equipment.

Find out more about NEC Requirement for GFCI Without Ground Installation.

While performing GFCI outlet installation use electrical tape to cover installed GFCI receptacle wire terminals. This will help to prevent any loose wire from snapping off the device (even partially) and touching electrical box (common for stranded wires if improperly installed – see pictures under #3 section). Electrical tape is also to protect anyone who would forget to turn OFF the power before attempting to service GFCI receptacle.

#4. GFCI outlet installation – securing GFCI receptacle in place and testing

Carefully fold the installed wires behind the GFCI outlet and push it back into the electrical box, secure the receptacle with screws and re-install cover plate. Use your favorite testing device / lamp for this next step. Plug the lamp into the GFCI receptacle and turn ON the power at the main electrical panel.

Smart Lock type GFCI receptacles are shipped in a tripped / OFF position, so the lamp should be OFF until you fully depress RESET button. If nothing happens when you do that, LOAD & LINE wires on the newly installed GFCI receptacle have been most likely switched, or you have a faulty device – DISCONNECT the power and check the installation.

With the newly installed GFCI receptacles showing the “Smart Lock” sign, miswiring will simply prevent it from operating / there will be no power in the GFCI receptacle sockets and for the outlets connected to it down the stream.

However, older GFCI receptacles without the “Smart Lock” feature will still have power after tripping if LOAD & LINE wires have been switched.  Unfortunately, there’s still millions of those devices installed in our homes, so take your table lamp and TEST IT! Or get a GFCI tester for under ten dollars, and use it every month.

You might be in a situation where installing GFCI outlet is not be possible due to an overfilled (too many wires) or undersized / shallow electrical box – GFCI receptacle is 1.5 to 2 times larger (deeper) than a regular outlet and some electrical boxes won’t be able to accommodate it. One of the possible solutions in such case is to install a GFCI breaker that will protect entire circuit.

Important things to remember – GFCI outlet installation in a place of the existing electrical outlet should be performed by following your current local jurisdiction requirements – this might not be entirely the latest NEC (National Electrical Code) but should be very close to it – find out required GFCI locations based on 2008 NEC.

Some of the GFCI outlet installation location examples would be a kitchen GFCI, bathroom GFCI, and a laundry GFCI. If you remove a regular electrical outlet from either of those locations in order to replace it with a GFCI receptacle, this new device should be

  • 20-ampere rated
  • installed on a #12 AWG wire
  • protected by a 20-ampere rated breaker / fuse

In many cases, this would require spending a few hundred $$$ (for the electrician). However, if your plan was to replace those wires anyway, do it right – shortcuts sometimes cause fire.

GFCI maintenance – extremely important and easy to follow procedures.

I hope this GFCI outlet installation manual will help you improve your house’s safety rating – good luck and be careful!

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GFCI Types, GFCI Testing and Hazardous Installations https://www.checkthishouse.com/2686/gfci-types-testing-and-hazards.html Mon, 02 Feb 2009 05:12:34 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2686 gfci types and testingGFCI types and GFCI testing There are basically three GFCI types available on the market and GFCI testing should be routinely performed on all of them for at least one reason – they contain mechanical parts which can and do fail. GFCI receptacles GFCI portable devices GFCI breakers Each one of them provides the same type of service / protection – it saves lives by limiting duration of an electrical shock. GFCI receptacle is the most popular device and it has been in service since early 1970′s. It looks almost like a regular electrical outlet, with two small buttons located usually in the center. The buttons are [...]]]> gfci types and testing

There are basically three GFCI types available on the market and GFCI testing should be routinely performed on all of them for at least one reason – they contain mechanical parts which can and do fail occasionally.

GFCI types:

  1. GFCI receptacles
  2. GFCI portable devices
  3. GFCI breakers

Each one of them provides the same type of service / protection – it saves lives by limiting duration of an electrical shock.

GFCI testing – GFCI receptacle

GFCI types and GFCI testing - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacle 15 Amp ratedGFCI types and GFCI testing - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacle 20 Amp ratedGFCI receptacle is the most popular device and it has been in service since early 1970’s. It looks almost like a regular electrical outlet, with two small buttons located usually in the center. The buttons are marked “test” and “reset”, sometimes in 2 different colors, sometimes the same shade as the GFCI receptacle body.

While conducting GFCI testing / pressing the test button, your are creating a situation in which GFCI should trip and disconnect the power to anything plugged into the receptacle.

Unfortunately, millions of GFCI outlets installed in our homes have a little safety glitch, if improperly wired, the device will trip but the power remains on… pretty scary for a safety device – click the following link – GFCI outlet safety.

GFCI testing and GFCI types - LINE and LOAD terminalsGFCI receptacle has two terminals on the back marked “LINE” connection (this is where the power supply from electrical panel should be connected), and two terminals marked “LOAD” where additional outlets might be attached. By accidentally switching line and load wires in those millions of receptacles, the “glitch” is activated.

The easiest way to perform GFCI testing for its receptacle  line – load connection is to insert a 3-light receptacle tester into it or connect a lamp to the device and push “GFCI’s TEST button (the lamp method does not test other wiring problems). If the button trips but your light fixture remains on, the wiring has been most likely reversed and GFCI receptacle provides no protection at all.

GFCI types and testing - receptacle Smart Lock logoNewer GFCI receptacles have a feature called “Smart Lock” which prevents this from happening. You can easily recognize those devices by a small padlock sign in one of the corners of the face plate – any improper wiring blocks the test button.

This isn’t something that you must have, but make sure that your GFCI receptacle without the “Smart Lock” sign has been properly wired.

GFCI types and GFCI testing – Important feature!

GFCI types and GFCI testing - outlet installed in not-grounded environment must be marked No Equipment GroundOne, extremely important feature of GFCI receptacles is that they can be used to replace 2-prong / ungrounded outlets. This provides protection from electrical shock for us, but still no ground for equipment. Newly installed GFCI receptacle and all outlets connected downstream from it (on the load side) must be marked as “GFCI protected” and “not grounded” – this is a code requirement.

GFCI types and GFCI testing – Portable Devices

GFCI testing and GFCI types - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter protected extension cord

GFCI portable devices plug into a regular house outlet and provide protection to whatever is plugged into them. Some of them look like an extension cord with a thicker section containing protective device, other have a weatherproof enclosure with a build in GFCI receptacle, etc. You should be using them in all situation where GFCI outlet receptacle or GFCC circuit breaker protection is required, but not available.

GFCI types and – Circuit breakers

GFCI types and GFCI testing - Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter type circuit breakerGFCI circuit breakers act almost the same way as a GFCI receptacle. While GFCI receptacle disconnects hot and neutral conductors, breaker takes care of the hot only / the neutral remains closed.

GFCI circuit breakers are much more expensive than receptacles, but in some cases it might be cheaper or easier to replace just one breaker instead of changing several outlets.

GFCI breaker testing

GFCI circuit breaker has a test button, which should trip the breaker handle to the center position when depressed. In order to reset the breaker, you have to push the handle all the way to “off” position, and than back to “on”.

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AFCI Protection Requirement in 2008 NEC | AFCI Breaker https://www.checkthishouse.com/2673/afci-breaker-protection-requirement-in-2008-nec.html Sun, 01 Feb 2009 05:05:28 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2673
  • What is Arc Fault?
  • AFCI protection changes in 2008 NEC
  • AFCI protection examples
  • AFCI protection required locations
  • AFCI protection - Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter breaker - 2008 NEC requirements

    AFCI protection requirement for some of the circuits in you house has been in place since January 1, 2002. AFCI circuit breaker looks very similar to the GFCI breaker but serves completely different purpose.

    AFCI – Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter

    AFCI protection and GFCI protection

    AFCI breakers protect our houses against the electrical fire hazard, while GFCI breakers protect people against electrical shocks.

    What is Arc Fault?

    Arc fault happens when the electrical current jumps from one conductor to another. You might have noticed a small lightning (contact arcing) inside the light switch when flipping it.

    That’s when the electrical current performs the jump, thankfully it happens inside the switch which has been designed for such events, and we can call it a controlled arc. The electrical current drawn by the arc is very small which prevents the breaker in an electrical panel from tripping.

    However, the temperature generated in this process might reach several thousands degrees. Now imagine that you’re driving a nail into the wall, which accidentally penetrates an electrical conduit / wires, and causes an arc.

    If your house is wired with a flexible type conduit (wires are not inside the metal pipe), this small arc might be just the beginning of a big fire… unless this circuit happens to have AFCI protection – an AFCI breaker.

    AFCI breaker will trip and disconnect the power (deenergize the circuit) if something like that happens.

    AFCI protection changes in 2008 NEC

    2008 NEC brought significant changes into the AFCI world, concerning AFCI protection device itself and expanding greatly areas of its application. Instead of AFCI breaker, combination type Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter is now required, and this is not a GFCI – AFCI protection combination.

    The new type of AFCI breaker is required to detect line-to-neutral, line-to ground, neutral to ground, and series arcing (the previous AFCI detected only first three).

    AFCI protection Examples:

    • Line to neutral AFCI protection – the nail you drive into the electric conduit compromises neutral and hot wire, and the arc forms between the two damaged wires
    • Line to ground AFCI protection – the nail you drive into the electric conduit penetrates ground and hot wire, which causes arcing
    • Neutral to ground AFCI protection – the nail you drive into the electric conduit penetrates ground and neutral wire
    • Series arcing AFCI protection – the nail you drive into the electric conduit compromises only one wire and arcing forms between the two separated wire sections

    Where is the AFCI protection required (2008 NEC):

    AFCI protection is required on all 120-volt, single phase, 15 & 20 amp branch circuits that supply power to the outlets located in:

    • family rooms
    • dinning rooms
    • living rooms
    • libraries
    • dens
    • parlors
    • bedrooms
    • sunrooms
    • recreation rooms
    • closets
    • hallways
    • similar rooms or areas

    Well… not much is left in the house, everything else is GFCI protected 🙂

    Two exceptions for AFCI protection as stated in 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code):

    Exception No. 1: Where RMC, IMC, EMT or steel armored cable, Type AC, meeting the requirements of 250.118 using metal outlet and junction boxes is installed for the portion of the branch circuit between the branch-circuit overcurrent device and the first outlet, it shall be permitted to install a combination AFCI at the first outlet to provide protection for the remaining portion of the branch circuit.

    Exception No. 2: Where a branch circuit to a fire alarm system installed in accordance with 760.41(B) and 760.121(B) is installed in RMC, IMC, EMT, or steel armored cable, Type AC, meeting the requirements of 250.118, with metal outlet and junction boxes, AFCI protection shall be permitted to be omitted.

    All those requirements are for the new construction, but AFCI protection should be considered by anyone as an extra safety measure. Especially older houses with deteriorating wiring should be the number one on the AFCI protection list.

    Also, anyone upgrading electrical panel completely or just adding / replacing some circuits should install AFCI breakers wherever they are currently required. AFCIs are not cheap… they are actually pretty expensive ($30 – $50 average for a breaker, but prices will hopefully start dropping with higher demand) compared to the regular breakers (just a few bucks), but fires caused by arcing and sparking happen very often and cause many lives. It’s you choice… AFCI protection might save your life.

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    Kitchen GFCI Receptacle Requirements, Locations & Other Electrical Tips https://www.checkthishouse.com/2651/kitchen-gfci-receptacle-and-other-electrical-requirements.html Fri, 30 Jan 2009 05:56:10 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2651 kitchen gfci receptacleKitchen GFCI receptacle Kitchen GFCI receptacles are required by the 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code) to be installed along the countertop surfaces. GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Actually, this requirement has been in place since 1996 NEC, and an important thing to remember: If you have an older kitchen, and for any reason decided to replace a regular electrical outlet – you should have a GFCI receptacle installed as a replacement. Kitchen Electrical Requirements Kitchen electrical outlets installed above the countertops  require at least 2 small appliance branch circuits. Kitchen electrical circuits serving countertop outlets must be rated for 20 ampers (#12 wire) Kitchen GFCI receptacles installed [...]]]> kitchen gfci receptacle

    Kitchen GFCI receptacles are required by the 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code) to be installed along the countertop surfaces.

    • GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)

    Actually, this requirement has been in place since 1996 NEC, and an important thing to remember:

    If you have an older kitchen, and for any reason decided to replace a regular electrical outlet – you should have a GFCI receptacle installed as a replacement.

    Kitchen Electrical Requirements

    • Kitchen electrical outlets installed above the countertops  require at least 2 small appliance branch circuits.
    • Kitchen electrical circuits serving countertop outlets must be rated for 20 ampers (#12 wire)
    • Kitchen GFCI receptacles installed on those 20 amp circuits must be also 20 amp rated

    Example: for 5 kitchen GFCI receptacles serving countertops there should be a minimum of 2 circuit breakers (or two fuses) in your electrical panel – one protecting 3 of those outlets, and second responsible for other 2 (or 4 & 1 – it doesn’t matter).

    Those two or more electrical circuits supplying power to the kitchen GFCI receptacles (above the countertop) must also serve remaining kitchen open walls, pantry and dinning room receptacles.

    However, they can not be used for the kitchen lighting or outlets located within the cabinets or cupboards (sometimes used to for a under the cabinet lights low voltage transformer or regular voltage light fixtures, microwave or other permanently installed appliances). GFCI protection is not required for those extra receptacles, but since installed on a 20 amp rated circuits, they must be also 20 amp rated.

    There are two exceptions; the two (or more) electrical circuits providing power to the kitchen GFCI receptacles can be also used to:

    1. support operation of an electric clock
    2. provide power to supplemental equipment and lighting on gas ranges, ovens or cook-tops (electronic display, control panels, etc.)

    Kitchen GFCI receptacle required above 12 inch or wider countertopKitchen GFCI receptacle - an outlet is not required above / behind the corner sinkNumber of required kitchen GFCI protected receptacles above the countertop – it all depends on how long is your countertop…

    • Every 12″ wide section of the kitchen wall countertop space requires a GFCI protected receptacle

    Kitchen GFCI - There must be no point along the kitchen countertop wall line located further than 24 inches from the receptacle (horizontally)Kitchen GFCI - an outlet is not required above the sinkKitchen GFCI - small appliances short cordsThere must be no point along the kitchen countertop wall line located further than 24″ from the GFCI outlet receptacle (horizontally). Most of the new appliances are equipped with very short electrical cords to prevent them from overheating, tangling, etc.

    Because of those short appliance cords, electrical outlets spacing should be maintained so close. However, no electrical outlets are required on the wall directly above the kitchen range, cook-top or sink.

    Kitchen refrigerator power supply does not require GFCI protection, just an individual (15amp rating or more) branch circuit (if you have a refrigerator in the garage or an unfinished basement, 2008 NEC decided to put it on a GFCI protected circuit).

    You can use one of the two small appliance GFCI protected circuits, but an individual circuit makes more sense for this purpose.Kitchen GFCI receptacle - kitchen island requires GFCI protected outletKitchen GFCI requirement also applies to an island and peninsula countertop –  if it has a minimum dimensions of 12″ x 24″ it requires at least one GFCI protected electrical outlet. In case you have a larger island (or any) countertop, divided by the sink, or a cook-top, range, etc., and there is less than 12″ of counter-space behind that dividing  sink or appliance – each of the sections would require a GFCI protected receptacle.

    Kitchen GFCI outlet locations above and below the countertops

    • Not more than 20″ above
    • Not more than 12″ below (island and peninsula with no backsplashes, dividers, etc.) if the countertop overhang is 6″ or smaller.  Those side wall receptacles create a safety hazard for children reaching them or anyone accidentally brushing the hanging cord, but often this is the only choice. I would highly recommend to use that kitchen GFCI protected receptacle under supervision (if you have small children), and remove the plug as soon as you’re finished.

    Garbage disposer,  dishwasher, microwave do not require GFCI protection, and can not be supplied by the small appliance circuits. Depending on the amount of power they need (check the nameplate or installation instructions), you can either use 1, 2 or 3 circuits (if nothing else will be on those electrical circuits).

    Below are typical ratings of those appliances – they should not use more than 80% of the circuit breaker rating protecting it if on dedicated circuit, or 50% if sharing the circuit with something else:

    • 1/2 HP garbage disposal – 2.5 amp (WasteMade garbage disposer)
    • dishwasher – 9 to 12 amp
    • microwave – 4.5 to 12 amp

    Example: small microwave + garbage disposer = 6 amp + 2 amp = 8 amp – you can install both of them on a single, dedicated circuit protected by a 20 amp breaker because they will use less than 50% of  the breakers’ rating (15 amp breaker would be too small)

    No face-up kitchen GFCI receptacles (and no unprotected devices of course) are permitted!

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    Laundry GFCI Receptacles and Utility / Wet Bar Sinks Areas https://www.checkthishouse.com/2642/gfci-receptacles-in-laundry-utility-wet-bar-sinks-areas.html Wed, 28 Jan 2009 17:42:28 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2642 Laundry GFCI receptacles

    Installation of laundry GFCI receptacles and GFCI protection for utility / wet bar sink areas where the electrical outlets are installed within 6ft from the outside edge of the sink is required by the 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code).

    GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)

    Remember to always upgrade to the latest code requirement, if making any modifications of an older electrical installation (i.e. if replacing and old, regular / not GFCI type electrical outlet in the area where GFCI is currently required, make your life safer – install GFCI receptacle).

    Laundry GFCI receptacles:

    Laundry GFCI receptacle or GFCI breaker protection is required within 6' from the sink edgeLaundry GFCI receptacles -area without the sink doesn't require GFCI but receptacle must be 20amp rated on a 20amp rated dedicated circuit

    You should have a minimum of one dedicated 20-amper rated branch circuit supplying power to the laundry room outlet(s). Dedicated means that there should be no other receptacle outlets supplied by the same circuit (for ironing, switched lighting in the laundry room, or other rooms)

    Laundry equipment outlet should be located within 6ft from the appliances. This is very important, so you are not going to use any extension cords for that purpose. Extension cords might have lower ratings than the appliance requirement – your washer or dryer might need more current than the extension cord can carry, which condition could overheat the cord and create a fire.

    Utility room GFCI - receptacles installed in a utility area within 6' from the sink edge require GFCI protectionIf you have a sink in a laundry room and its outside edge is within 6ft from any receptacle in this room – that receptacle must be GFCI protected.

    Receptacles installed in a laundry room without the sink do not require GFCI protection.

    Utility area GFCI receptacles:

    If you have a sink in a utility area, any receptacle outlet within 6ft from the sink outside edge must be GFCI protected

    Wet bar sink GFCI receptacles:

    It doesn’t matter where the bar sink is (basement, bedroom, living room, etc.) if you have an electrical outlet within 6ft from the wet bar sink outside edge, it must be GFCI protected.

    Unfinished basement laundry GFCI receptacles:

    Washing machine installed in an unfinished basement area without a sink requires GFCI protection (to comply with an unfinished basement outlet GFCI protection requirement)

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    Unfinished Basement GFCI Receptacles Placement https://www.checkthishouse.com/2633/unfinished-basement-gfci-receptacles.html Wed, 28 Jan 2009 04:15:10 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2633 Unfinished Basement GFCI Receptacles Unfinished basement GFCI receptacles installation or GFCI protection for a regular type outlet receptacles installed in an unfinished basement is required by the 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code). GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Unfinished basement it’s an area or portion of the basement area that is not intended to be used as a habitable room. Habitable room it’s a space arranged for living, eating or sleeping purposes (must conform to local building codes to be listed as such), but does not include bathroom / toilet rooms, laundries, pantries, foyers or hallways. If you have a sump pump installed in an unfinished [...]]]>

    Unfinished Basement GFCI Receptacles

    GFCI – Stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.

    Unfinished basements are an area or portion of the basement area that is not intended to be used as a habitable room. A Habitable Room is typically a space arranged for living, eating or sleeping purposes (must conform to local building codes to be listed as such), but does not include bathroom / toilet rooms, laundries, pantries, foyers or hallways.

    Unfinished basement GFCI receptacle protection required for a sump pumpIf you have a sump pump installed in an unfinished basement, it will have to be plugged into a GFCI receptacle, or an outlet protected by a GFCI breaker, just like the crawlspace sump pump. If you’re concerned about the GFCI receptacle tripping when the power to the sump pump is needed the most, battery operated backup sump pump would be your answer.

    Also, if you have a basement divided into a finished and more than one unfinished section, each of those unfinished sections must have an outlet, and it has to be GFCI protected.

    There’s one exception however for an unfinished basement GFCI protected receptacles:

    GFCI protection is not required for an unfinished basement outlet providing alarm system power supplyA receptacle that supplies power to the permanently installed security / burglar and fire alarm equipment, is not required to have a GFCI protection and should not be AFCI (Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter) protected. This power source should be from an individual branch circuit, not shared with other outlets, lights, etc.

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    Crawlspace GFCI Installed at or Below the Grade Level https://www.checkthishouse.com/2623/gfci-in-crawlspaces-at-or-below-grade-level.html Tue, 27 Jan 2009 05:44:09 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2623 Crawlspace GFCI for sump pumpCrawlspace GFCI installed at or below the grade level GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Crawlspace GFCI protection for receptacles has changed slightly in 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code). 2005 NEC exception that allowed single receptacles for not easily moved appliances to be excluded from GFCI requirement has been removed. Because of the moisture, flooding, drainage problems , crawlspace GFCI protection absolutely makes sense in such application. The only device that homeowners would probably prefer without GFCI protection is a sump pump, which used to be a part of that 2005 exception. If you’re concerned about your crawlspace flooding, the solution would be to install [...]]]> Crawlspace GFCI for sump pump

    GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)

    Crawlspace GFCI for sump pumpCrawlspace GFCI protection for receptacles has changed slightly in 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code). 2005 NEC exception that allowed single receptacles for not easily moved appliances to be excluded from GFCI requirement has been removed.

    Because of the moisture, flooding, drainage problems , crawlspace GFCI protection absolutely makes sense in such application. The only device that homeowners would probably prefer without GFCI protection is a sump pump, which used to be a part of that 2005 exception.

    If you’re concerned about your crawlspace flooding, the solution would be to install a battery operated sump pump backup (make sure the battery is elevated above the highest water level mark). It would also make sense (just like with the garage ceiling GFCI) to install regular outlet in the crawlspace and GFCI receptacle protecting it somewhere by the crawlspace entrance or other area with higher traffic so you can easily spot the problem.

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    House Exterior GFCI Receptacles https://www.checkthishouse.com/2557/gfci-requirement-for-the-house-exterior-receptacles.html Mon, 26 Jan 2009 00:55:37 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2557 Exterior GFCI - seasonal decorations outlet receptacles on exterior require GFCI protectionExterior GFCI Receptacles The 2008 NEC did not change house exterior GFCI receptacles requirement protection since the previous edition. All outdoor house receptacles must be GFCI protected. GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) There is one exception from this exterior GFCI receptacles requirement: If you have electrical outlets that are not readily accessible (you can’t reach them standing on the ground without using ladders, or any other equipment) and they are supplied by a branch circuit dedicated for snow / ice melting equipment (there’s nothing else on this circuit), exterior GFCI protection is not required. However, that snow / ice melting equipment must be permanently attached; [...]]]> Exterior GFCI - seasonal decorations outlet receptacles on exterior require GFCI protection

    Exterior GFCI Receptacles

    Exterior GFCI - seasonal decorations outlet receptacles on exterior require GFCI protectionThe 2008 NEC did not change house exterior GFCI receptacles requirement protection since the previous edition.

    All outdoor house receptacles must be GFCI protected.

    GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)

    There is one exception from this exterior GFCI receptacles requirement:

    If you have electrical outlets that are not readily accessible (you can’t reach them standing on the ground without using ladders, or any other equipment) and they are supplied by a branch circuit dedicated for snow / ice melting equipment (there’s nothing else on this circuit), exterior GFCI protection is not required.

    However, that snow / ice melting equipment must be permanently attached; you should not use those unprotected  exterior GFCI receptacles for something that would be removed after the winter.

    There is however one exception within the exception above which applies to mineral-insulated, metal-sheathed cable embedded in a noncombustible (it doesn’t burn) material that would need to be GFCI protected. I don’t think you’re going to deal with this thing in your house.

    If you have receptacles installed in the house soffits, which are not readily accessible, powered by a dedicated branch circuit for seasonal decorations – the exterior GFCI rules apply to them / they have to be GFCI protected.

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    Garage GFCI Receptacles and GFCI in Accessory Buildings https://www.checkthishouse.com/2539/gfci-receptacles-in-garages-and-accessory-buildings.html Sat, 24 Jan 2009 03:18:19 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2539 Garage GFCI - garage overhead doors opener receptacle requires GFCI protection (2008 NEC) Garage GFCI receptacles / accessory building GFCI Exceptions for the garage GFCI receptacles and GFCI’s in accessory buildings have been removed by the 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code). The new rules apply to the structures that have a floor located at or below grade level, are not intended for use as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use. GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Always remember about GFCI maintenance and testing – those devices are worthless piece of equipment, unless they  are operating properly! Accessory building GFCI There’s no more GFCI unprotected receptacles permitted in accessory buildings. If [...]]]> Garage GFCI - garage overhead doors opener receptacle requires GFCI protection (2008 NEC)

    Garage GFCI receptacle - garage overhead doors opener outlet receptacle requires GFCI protection (2008 NEC)Exceptions for the garage GFCI receptacles and GFCI’s in accessory buildings have been removed by the 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code). The new rules apply to the structures that have a floor located at or below grade level, are not intended for use as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use.

    GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)

    Always remember about GFCI maintenance and testing – those devices are worthless piece of equipment, unless they  are operating properly!

    Accessory building GFCI

    There’s no more GFCI unprotected receptacles permitted in accessory buildings. If you are planning to put one in your barn or storage shed, it must be a GFCI type receptacle or an outlet protected by a GFCI breaker.

    Garage GFCI receptacles

    • Receptacles that are not readily accessible; garage ceiling outlet, an outlet receptacle serving garage door opener, etc., require GFCI protection. I personally have nothing against it, but resetting that tripped garage GFCI outlet on a very high ceiling will cost you a few hundred $$$… for the ladder that is. So, it would probably make sense to install a regular outlet on the ceiling and a garage GFCI receptacle protecting it in a readily accessible area.

    Readily Accessible (2008 NEC definition)Capable of being reached quickly for operation, renewal, or inspections without requiring those to whom ready access is requisite to climb over or remove obstacles or to resort to portable ladders, and so forth.

    • A single or duplex receptacle on a dedicated branch circuit that was previously identified for a certain cord-and-plug connected appliance, such as a refrigerator or freezer, it now belongs to the garage GFCI receptacle group / it has to be GFCI protected.

    The new code actually made it simpler – no more guessing. On the other hand…, is it a good idea to have a freezer / refrigerator plugged into a garage GFCI receptacle?

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    Bathroom GFCI Receptacles and Electrical Components https://www.checkthishouse.com/2522/bathroom-gfci-receptacles-and-electrical-components.html Thu, 22 Jan 2009 04:46:25 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2522
    Bathroom GFCI protection - an outlet is required within 36 inches from the outside edge of each basin

    Bathroom GFCI receptacle protection is required by the NEC (National Electrical Code), and of course by a common sense – why would you risk getting electrocuted if you can secure your safety by installing GFCI outlet.

    Since some bathrooms are currently equipped with many electrical current hungry devices, bathroom electrical power supply requirements had to be slightly adjusted. We used to have a bathroom sharing an electrical circuit with exterior outlets, the kitchen, and a garage – not anymore.

    Bathroom GFCI receptacles - hydro-spa accessory heater requires second electrical supply sourceOf course, the minimum bathroom electrical requirements listed below are not going to work if you add a steam shower, heated electric floor, hydro-spa heater, several light fixtures, heat lamps, etc. For all that additional equipment load calculation would have to be performed, but now, let me cover the basics.

    The minimum requirement for a single bathroom electrical supply is one, 20-ampere rated electrical circuit. This electrical circuit should not be used for anything else than outlets and equipment within the bathroom.

    Bathroom electrical: bathroom GFCI receptacles

    Bathroom GFCI receptacles picture - 15 amp and 20 amp ratedBathroom receptacle - GFCI protected outlet is required within 36 inches of the outside edge of each basinBathroom GFCI protection is required for all new bathroom outlet receptacles.  Bathroom electrical wiring and bathroom receptacles must have a 20 ampere rating:

    1. 20 ampere rated circuit breaker inside the electrical panel
    2. 12 gauge copper wire
    3. 20 ampere rated GFCI outlet receptacle
    • Bathroom GFCI receptacle must be located within 3’ (36″ / 900 mm) from the basins outside edge. The same rule applies for multiple sinks / additional bathroom receptacles must be installed if necessary.
    • If you are replacing an old, not GFCI type bathroom receptacle, you have to install currently required GFCI type outlet in its place unless this circuit is already protected by another GFCI receptacle or GFCI breaker. Using a GFCI breaker should be done with caution because the device will not protect ungrounded electrical installation.

    • Remember about bathroom GFCI maintenance and testing on regular basis – approximately once a month

    Bathroom electrical: hydro-massage tub

    • Hydro-massage tub must be protected by a bathroom GFCI receptacle or GFCI breaker, and must have a disconnecting means in sight of motor – most of the tubs have a cord and plug which can be simply pulled out of the socket. Hydro-spa with a hard wired motor should have a ON/OFF switch mounted in sight of motor.

    Bathroom GFCI protection - hydro-massage tub motor terminal needs to be bonded to the water pipeBathroom electrical - hydro-massage tub motor terminal properly bonded to the cold water pipeBathroom electrical components - hydro-spa motor must be accessible and access large enough to service or remove

    Hydro-massage tub motor terminal needs to be bonded to a water pipe (cold) with solid #8 copper wire. The bonding is prohibited for a listed double-insulated type motors (it should say on the motor label, and there will be no terminal).

    • Hydro-massage tub motor must be accessible, and the access panel large enough for servicing including motor replacement.

    Bathroom electrical: bathroom lighting

    There are some types of light fixtures listed below that are not permitted within a certain area in the bathroom. This area is located directly above the bathtub and the shower stall, and additionally extends 3ft (0.9 meter) horizontally, and 8ft (2.5 meter) vertically from the bathtub top rim and the shower stall threshold.

    The forbidden types of bathroom electrical light fixtures or parts of fixtures in this area are:

    • Cord connected lights (i.e. table lamp)
    • Chain / cable or a suspended cord
    • Track type
    • Pendants
    • Ceiling fans

    Bathroom lights - located within the tub or shower exterior wall and up to 8' from the top rim must be marked for damp or wet locationsBathroom wall light electrical wiring must be concealed inside the fixture enclosure or junction box

    1. Any electrical light fixture located within that area must be marked for damp locations or wet locations where it’s subject to shower spray.
      Bathroom light fixtures electrical wiring must be concealed within the electrical junction box or fixture enclosure

    After seeing peoples’ lack of common sense in many hazardous situations, I always recommend to put any of the bathroom electrical light fixtures located above the bathtub and / or shower stall on a GFCI protected circuit… but that’s your choice (it is not required by code but may be in your local jurisdiction and / or light fixture manufacturer requirement).

    One last bathroom electrical component which under some conditions would require bathroom GFCI protection is covered here – Bathroom Exhaust Fan

    Final bathroom electrical pledge – please, no electrical panels in the bathroom, and remember that properly installed bathroom GFCI could save your life.

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    GFCI Locations in Residential Buildings based on 2008 NEC https://www.checkthishouse.com/2498/gfci-locations-in-residential-buildings-based-on-2008-nec.html Wed, 21 Jan 2009 05:15:21 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2498 Read more]]> From this post you can follow links to all GFCI locations in residential buildings based on 2008 NEC – at the bottom section.

    GFCI – (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter)

    Before installing GFCI receptacles or replacing a regular outlet receptacle, always check with your local code enforcement division, there may be some additional regulations applied, sometimes over-ruling what’s below. Many jurisdictions do not immediately adopt the new edition of the National Electrical Code.

    GFCI history has been updated again and it seems that the main thing many are not happy about is deletion of exceptions concerning GFCI outlets installation in residential buildings.

    According to the latest 2008 NEC (National Electrical Code), ALL of the 125 volt, single phase, 15 & 20 amp receptacles in residential building basements, garages and accessory buildings are required to be GFCI protected. That means dedicated outlets serving: sump pumps, freezers / other permanently located equipment (which is not easily movable), laundry appliances, garage ceiling outlets used for the garage door opener, and anything else previously excluded from this requirement is now included and has to be GFCI protected.

    2008 NEC kept an exception allowing fire alarm and / or burglar alarm systems to remain on NON-GFCI protected circuits. The items below are linked to other posts explaining GFCI installation in particular locations in detail. So just click around.

    GFCI protection is required for receptacles installed in any of the following areas of a dwelling unit:

    1. Bathrooms
    2.
    Garages and accessory buildings

    3.
    All exterior receptacles except for deicing equipment

    4.
    Crawl spaces – at or below grade level
    5.
    Unfinished basements

    6.
    Kitchens

    7.
    Laundry, Utility, Wet Bar Sinks Areas
    8. Boathouses – if you have a receptacle there, it must be GFCI protected

    Dwelling Unit (NEC definition): A single unit, providing complete and independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, cooking, and sanitation.

    If you have an older property, there might be no easy way to ground your new GFCI outlet receptacle. Find out NEC Requirement for installing GFCI without ground.

    The list of major changes in the 2008 National Electrical Code concerning new residential construction, new additions and alterations – 2008 NEC Residential Changes

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    GFCI Outlet Purpose and GFCI Location History https://www.checkthishouse.com/2460/gfci-outlet-purpose-and-gfci-location-history.html https://www.checkthishouse.com/2460/gfci-outlet-purpose-and-gfci-location-history.html#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2009 02:56:58 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=2460 Read more]]> The simplest explanation of the GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) Receptacle Purpose would be:

    GFCI devices save lives by limiting the duration of electrical shocks.

    Kitchen countertop small appliances should be plugged into the GFCI protected outlet

    The real life scenario: Let’s say that you’re using a metal knife or fork to pull out your breakfast from the toaster which is still turned on. By touching the interior electrical components, you may become an extension, the path for the electrical current.

    If you are lucky to have the toaster plugged into the functional, properly installed GFCI receptacle or GFCI breaker protected receptacle, it will detect that “leaking” current and disconnect the power as fast as 1/40th of a second.

    This is fortunately less time that it takes the electrical current to cause damage to our body. Without the GFCI protection… well, you may be out of luck. The electrical current of 30-200mA (200mA is a typical night light current) is capable of causing your heart arrhythmia, eventually stopping your heart and ceasing blood circulation within a few seconds.

    GFCI Location History: GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) electrical outlets where first introduced in US in early 70’s. Still in the testing stage, and under development, GFCI outlets where causing a lot of confusion and aggravation in the beginning of their implementation. Becoming more advanced and safer over a few decades of existence, those inexpensive GFCI outlets are currently protecting our lives in various locations in our properties.

    The table below shows an introduction of various GFCI required locations and conditions over the 30 year period. However, you should always apply the latest code requirement to your situation. It’s required not because somebody is trying to make a few bucks on you, but because your life might depend on it.

    History of GFCI Requirements Introduced by NEC
    (National Electrical Code)
    Year of NEC
    Publication
    New GFCI Locations or Conditions Concerning GFCI Applications
    Introduced in NEC Publication
    1971
    • GFCI receptacles required within 15 feet of swimming pool walls
    • All portable swimming pool equipment must be GFCI protected
    1973
    • All outdor receptacles must be GFCI protected
    1974
    • GFCI protection must be used on construction sites
    1975
    • GFCI protection required for bathrooms, fountain equipment, 120 volt pool lights, and boathouses
    1978
    • Exemption for exterior GFCI outlets located 6’&6″ above the ground
    • GFCI receptacles required for garages and spas (some local jurisdictions also included hydro-spa)
    1981
    • Exemption for garage receptacles for dedicated equipment or not readily accessible (i.e. garage door opener power supply outlet that can not be reached without the ladder)
    1984
    • Replacement of non-grounding receptacles with no grounding conductor
    • Pool cover motors require GFCI
    • GFCI receptacle distance from swimming pool wall extended to 20′
    1997
    • GFCI required for unfinished basements
    • GFCI required for hydro-spa
    • GFCI protection required for kitchen countertop receptacles located within 6′ from the sink
    1990
    • GFCI required in crawlspaces with an exception of sump pumps and any other dedicated equipment
    1993
    • GFCI required for wet bar countertop, within 6′ from the sink
    • Any receptacle replaced in an area that currently requires GFCI
    1996
    • GFCI protection required for all kitchen counters, not only within 6′ from the sink
    • GFCI required for all exterior outlets except for dedicated deicing tape / cable receptacle
    • Unfinished accessory building at or below grade require GFCI protected receptacles
    1999
    • Exception for dedicated equipment in crawlspace area removed
    2003
    • “Smart Lock” type GFCI receptacles required
    2008

    GFCI Locations in Residential Buildings


    That’s about it, some basic GFCI outlet purpose and GFCI location history.

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    Things to Avoid Around the House Electrical Panel https://www.checkthishouse.com/1946/things-to-avoid-around-the-house-electrical-panel.html Tue, 18 Nov 2008 19:28:50 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=1946 Read more]]> Most “popular” mistakes people shouldn’t make around the house electric panels:

    Relocating water heater or furnace? – don’t run any of the pipes in front of the house’s electrical panel – remember 36” distance from its face must be free of any obstructions.
    Painting the wall? – don’t seal the electrical panel door with silicon or caulking; and don’t paint the breakers or panel interior (when spraying paint for example).

    Building any frames / walls / cabinets / doors around the panel? – make sure that the front cover is easily accessible and removable. The cover might need to be unscrewed for servicing and sometimes, the opening left around it is not big enough to access circuit breakers / fuses. Also, always keep a 30”x36” clearances when building any enclosures.

    Don’t place paneling, drywall, or any other wall finish materials between the cover and the electrical panel enclosure it will separate them and raise the cover, creating gaps around the breakers (some electrical panel covers may have an adjustable depth section).


    Screws securing the electrical panel cover must have a flat tip (any hardware or an electrical supply store will have them); don’t use any drywall type screws or any other sharp point screws because they might damage wire insulation inside the enclosure, short a hot wire, or even cause a fire. Removing the cover should be done by a professional, but you can replace each screw individually without even removing the cover. Before doing it, check the cover for any overheating marks, burns, and use insulated screwdriver. If in any doubt, ask a professional to do it for you.

    Do you have a legible description of all circuits inside the electrical panel? – It is required. Before testing all the breakers, turn off electronic equipment and disconnect any sensitive appliances, like the refrigerator. If you don’t have a electrical outlet tester, you can get one in every outlet store (they’re very cheap), or use a table lamp – it won’t tell you if it is wired properly but you can at least mark the breaker.

    Is your electrical panel missing any breakers? – all openings should have special plugs installed (electrical supply store will have them, just tell them the panel brand) – notice on the picture that high voltage bars inside the panel are exposed. Especially if you have small children running around your house – take care of it!

    Are there any holes (missing knockouts) in the sidewalls of the electrical panel enclosure? There should be special plugs installed to seal all the holes and prevent possibility of a fire spreading out of the electrical panel enclosure (any hardware store, measure the diameter).

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    House Electrical Panel in the Bathroom and Clothes Closet https://www.checkthishouse.com/1777/house-electrical-panel-in-the-bathroom-and-clothes-closet.html Sat, 01 Nov 2008 03:02:08 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=1777 Read more]]> House electrical panels rarely change their original location. Even when upgrading it to a larger size, they remain in the same spot. However, while remodeling our house interior, we sometimes completely forget – or just don’t realize – the mistakes we’re making.

    We just pick the best possible location for the new bathtub, toilet, and a sink without even considering the fact, that we are placing the electrical panel in the bathroom.

    We are building a clothes closet around the house original electrical panel, or installing a new electric sub-panel in the clothes closet – it will become an issue when a home inspector evaluates your property (it also means that you most likely didn’t obtain a permit for those installations).

    The cost is also a very significant factor in this situation. Electrical panel in the bathroom is not the end of the world, it can be relocated, but this process could easily add $1,000.00 or more to an already expensive bathroom project.

    There may not be an easy solution if the house electrical panel is already in the bathroom. However, if you have to do something about its location in order to sell your house – let’s try one simple thing. On this picture on the left there are dimensions of the house electric panel front working clearance, which is required for an emergency disconnect access and servicing.

    If you have enough room in the bathroom, you can build a 30”x36” (interior dimensions) “small room” with a door, which might just pass the inspection (ask your local building department first to see if they approve it). If it sells your house, it’s definitely worth the effort … you can try to make that electrical panel closet a decorative component of the bathroom project.

    For an electrical panel in a clothes closet location situation might be also complicated.  With the electrical panel installed on the narrow / side wall, there might not be required 30” space (unless you have a deep clothes closet). If it is on the long wall of the closet, all you need is a free 36” of space in front of it (30″ in Chicago) – no clothes in the closet for both scenarios!

    Depending on the building inspector’s interpretation, you might be able to get away with it by permanently removing the closet door (if the electrical panel doesn’t have enough clearance), and all the clothes. If you just push it to the sides, that might not be good enough.

    There are many more mistakes people make when remodeling / working around the house electrical panels and electrical service on the house exterior, which could be easily avoided – check your electrical service, it’ll take you just a few minutes.

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    Improper House Overhead Electric Service Locations & Safety Tips https://www.checkthishouse.com/1488/house-overhead-electric-service-improper-locations.html Mon, 20 Oct 2008 22:39:58 +0000 http://checkthishouse.com/?p=1488 chicago overhead electricWhen remodeling, upgrading, or changing the house exterior, we often forget to consider that some of the components that used to be safe prior to the completion of our new project may become quite dangerous when we’re finished. One of those components is an electrical service connection to our property … you know, those thick ... Read more]]> chicago overhead electric

    When remodeling, upgrading, or changing the house exterior, we often forget to consider that some of the components that used to be safe prior to the completion of our new project may become quite dangerous when we’re finished. One of those components is an electrical service connection to our property … you know, those thick cables, often hanging above the backyard (even if your electrical service is underground, please keep reading – maybe some day you’ll have a chance to give your friends good advice).

    The minimum height requirement for those overhead electrical service cables is 10’ above any walking surface (sidewalks, yard, stairs, decks, patios, etc. – things that are not accessible to vehicles), which also extends 3’ to the side of balconies and decks.

    Below are a couple of typical scenarios from Chicago land backyards:

    When adding a deck, stairs, balcony or any other structure elevated above the ground, you have to take into the consideration of electrical service cables attached to your house, garage, and / or suspended above the ground. It might, of course, become an additional cost to the project, but besides being a law, it is a serious safety issue, and one which will most likely create a problem when selling your house.

    So remember – electrical cables and their connection to your house must be at least 10’ above any walking surface. In some situations (picture with a power line located next to the second floor balcony guardrail), instead of relocating the electrical service connection to your house, it might be possible to build a protective screen / wall (picture with a power line cables behind the wire-mesh screen), in order to prevent someone from accidentally touching high voltage cables – you’d have to check that with your local building department / electrical inspector.

    • Electric meters are required to be installed between 44”-66” from the ground (that 22” differential is a local / utility’s call)
    • There should be a minimum of 36” of free space in front of the meter
    • The meter should be within 30” of open space on the wall (it might be 10” to the left and 20” to the right from the center of the meter, as long as the total is 30”)


    When doing any alterations on an exterior, make sure that you keep those dimensions in mind and avoid situations like the one on my picture. Utility company will most likely require relocation of the entire electrical service or removing of the deck section.

    • Installing a new window where there was none before? – keep in mind that the house’s electric service cables and their connection must be at least 3’ from the bottom and both sides of the window opening

    Building a new garage behind the house and converting part of the side yard into a driveway? – if the driveway runs along the wall with an electrical meter installed on it, you might need to relocate the house electric service to a different area, so it doesn’t get accidentally damaged by the passing vehicle (the garage on this picture is old, and electrical service might not need to be relocated).

    If your house’s electric service cables are above that new driveway, the minimum height requirement would be now 12’ instead of 10’ for the walking surfaces.

    • Replacing your exterior wall finish – make sure that the conduit and the power lines are safely secured to the house wall. Siding installers might forget to put all the brackets back where they belong.

    Whatever changes you’re making around your property, you should always bring everything associated with those changes to the current, required in your jurisdiction code.

    By the way, isn’t your house electrical panel in the bathroom or clothes closet?

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