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Thread: GFCI's at all outlet locations

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    DIY Junior Member taz110's Avatar
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    Default GFCI's at all outlet locations

    Hi Everybody,
    I looked at a condo this morning. In this 2 bdrm/1bath condo. that was built in the late 50's i noticed that all the outlets were changed over to GFCI,and awaiting to be put back in the boxes and covers put on. Upon looking around I also noticed each outlet had 2 wires going to each GFCI outlet (a positive and a Neutral wire) I asked why no ground at outlets. I was told with GFCI outlets no ground needed as they monitor the electricity between the hot and neutral wires ,and if not the same reading it shuts the outlet down very swiftly. I asked also if one GFCI is shut down do all outlets shut down. He said not in this case. Due to the older routing of the circuits where two outlets might be in two different rooms each outlet can be individually GFCI monitered. Usually I was told on a given circuit there is only one GFCI outlet and when that GFCI goes off it shuts down all other outlets downstream on that circuit. Got more of an answer than i thought I was going to get.

    Happy day to all

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    That is a common way to make the wiring safer, but obviously, not the best. It probably would have taken a lot more time to figure out which outlet was the 'first' one in a chain so you could limit the use of the GFCI receptacles, so it does make some sense to do it that way. Some (not many) things really should have an equipment ground, and a GFCI won't work as well as a true grounded circuit. Take a surge suppressor, for example, no ground, you've disconnected a lot of the ability of the thing to protect your equipment. ANd, looking at it another way, the ground is a secondary safety that is potentially needed to cause the CB to trip. The GFCI can fail, and without the actual ground, you could have a problem, but the CB may not trip. WHen working, though, the GFCI will provide an increased level of safety, and allow some things to be plugged in. Each one should be marked indicating it does not actually have a ground connected.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    ANd, looking at it another way, the ground is a secondary safety that is potentially needed to cause the CB to trip. The GFCI can fail, and without the actual ground, you could have a problem, but the CB may not trip.
    Jim

    This is not true. The equipment grounding conductor plays no role in how a GFCI works. The device will open when there is a difference between the line and grounded neutral of 4 to 6 milliamps.

    It was a common practice in years gone by to install a circuit to an overhead box and from this location drop down to each receptacle. It was very common during the Knob and Tube days. In this case about the only way is to install a device at each location as there would be fuses and not breakers.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    I was referring to a standard system, without a GFCI...or, if the GFCI had actually failed.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    In the Trades SacCity's Avatar
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    On the old two wire systems
    You can put in a GFIC plug, or a two prong plug.
    Those are the two basic options, without a ground wire in the sytem.
    Michael
    Michael
    Sac City Plumbing
    http://SacCityPlumbing.com

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jadnashua View Post
    I was referring to a standard system, without a GFCI...or, if the GFCI had actually failed.
    I'm sorry Jim, I misunderstood your statement

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    HOW the system is wired determines whether there is one, or several GFCIs in the circuit. As long as the GFCIs ONLY have wires to the line side and nothing is connected to the load terminals there is ONLY ONE GFCI in the circuit. It is when GFCIs are "daisy chained" and connected to the "load" terminals that there is more than one GFCI in the circuit, but it would have to be a "rank amateur" for it to be wired that way. Since there are more ways for something to be "energized" than going through the GFCI, I would be uncomfortable depending on the "ground terminal" of the receptacle to "drain" any stray electricity and then find that it is NOT connected to anything except ME. I had a situation Sunday, where there was a "bad" wire inside a cabinet which I did not know about until the second shock. (The first one was minor and I initially thought it might be a static discharge, but I told the homeowner there might be a problem. The second was much more definite.)
    Last edited by hj; 08-19-2011 at 06:13 AM.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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