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  1. #1
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    question about GFCI's

    My kid for some reason thinks I know stuff about houses, just because I've lived in one for most of the last 69 years. He called to tell me the lights--hardwired--in his bedroom were out. Everything else in the house was fine. I didn't know the answer, he finally figured out it was a tripped GFCI. He says there are two that cover his entire 3BR 2 story house. I have an older house and have seen GFCI's only on outlet circuits, not on lighting circuits, so GFCI didn't occur to me (even though I had two separate garage door GFCI's trip within a week of each other in the last month). Is this something new in the code, something particular to his house, which is 5 years old, or something that's been code all along and my house is wired wrong? If it makes any difference his house has solar panels and batteries and he sells excess electricity to the utility district. Just curious, I have no intention of touching his electric.

    It does seem like having a single GFCI cover a lot of circuits would make it a pain in the ass to figure out what is tripping it if it keeps tripping.

  2. #2
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    More likely AFCI breakers

    Arc fault interrupters.

    Expensive, not worth it, but new code to keep kids from putting forks or paper clips in the sockets.
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
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  3. #3
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    Don’t read this article
    Read the comments section
    https://www.ecmag.com/section/system...six-afci-myths
    “Life has become immeasurably better since I have been forced to stop taking it seriously.”
    Hunter S. Thompson

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Core Shot View Post
    Don’t read this article
    Read the comments section
    https://www.ecmag.com/section/system...six-afci-myths
    Gold.
    "I mean there's a reason arc faults stop fires. It's because you literally can't plug anything useful into them!"

    Love it.
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    I realize there is not much hope for a bullfighting forum. I understand that most of you would prefer to discuss the ingredients of jacket fabrics than the ingredients of a brave man. I know nothing of the former. But the latter is made of courage, and skill, and grace in the presence of the possibility of death. If someone could make a jacket of those three things it would no doubt be the most popular and prized item in all of your closets.

  5. #5
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    I like sticking forks in outlets.

  6. #6
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    Its been a long time since I put one in but I seem to remember everything further down the circuit from a GFCI plug was protected by the GFCI plug
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by XXX-er View Post
    Its been a long time since I put one in but I seem to remember everything further down the circuit from a GFCI plug was protected by the GFCI plug
    That's a bingo. There probably shouldn't be 2 of them for the entire house but that's neither here nor there. Core Shot is probably right that it's AFCI breakers, though. Although, again, 2 for the entire house?

  8. #8
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    I don't know how reliable that business about 2 for the whole house is. I'll have to confirm that next time in Sacramento. Thanks for the replies.

  9. #9
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    Probably meant 2 for the bedroom. One for lighting, and one for recepts.
    GFCI senses a ground fault- either the load sending amperage elsewhere, or YOU sending it elsewhere(like through your foot). It constantly monitors what goes out vs what comes back through the circuit. Variance of 4-6ma (10 ma can put your heart in defibrillates.), and it trips.

    AFCI breakers sense in a similar way, but they are looking for variance behind your walls, or from a load plugged into the outlet. These are the variances that cause lots of fires. Nails being driven into wires behind the wall, faulty wires on lamps behind beds, etc.

    There are also AFCI receptacles that can be wired as first in line on the circuit, but I doubt they would have been able to tie a lighting circuit through the load side of a receptacle. That is usually frowned upon.

    There are now combo breakers that have GFCI and AFCI in them, giving you all of the protection through the breaker.

    If his house is 5 years old, it probably was built in the early stages of AFCI breaker requirements. Those breakers were notorious for nuisance tripping. Have an electrician assess and change the breakers out to newer ones that match his panel. They have gotten a lot better.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by warthog View Post

    If his house is 5 years old, it probably was built in the early stages of AFCI breaker requirements. Those breakers were notorious for nuisance tripping. Have an electrician assess and change the breakers out to newer ones that match his panel. They have gotten a lot better.
    I'd guess this as well. First gen was a shitshow.

  11. #11
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    well its easy to just put in a GFCI if a plug goes bad so who knows what went down

    I remember them being fairly pricey ( must be at least 30 yars ) and then suddenly they were 1/2 to 1/3 rd of the price, must have come from china or something
    Lee Lau - xxx-er is the laziest Asian canuck I know

  12. #12
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    Was the tripped "gfci" an outlet or a breaker? If it's a breaker probably an afci, outlet then its probably a gfci. Arc fault breakers suck but as others have said at least they suck less now. And if there are only 2 of either I'd have some questions about how the house was wired.

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  13. #13
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    I'm gonna have to have him show me what tripped to know for sure what kind of device it was. Wasn't a breaker because it wasn't in the box. He checked all the breakers.

  14. #14
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    That is odd. GFCI's are usually in kitchens and bathrooms protecting the associated outlets. Lights often on a different circuit, but not always I guess.

  15. #15
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    While we're on the topic, the tamper proof receptacles, a.k.a, child proof outlets are not a good idea.

    In addition to them not working at the most inopportune moment -- not being able to push in a plug -- they deprive children of a life long lesson.
    “The best argument in favour of a 90% tax rate on the rich is a five-minute chat with the average rich person.”

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  16. #16
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    GFCI typically protect outlets in damp areas -- bathrooms and outside.

    Some breaker styles barely move when tripped so a visual inspection misses them. You have to physically check if they're loose. In that case move to OFF and then ON again. A single circuit can have around 12 devices (lights & outlets).
    If you have a problem & think that someone else is going to solve it for you then you have two problems.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackstraw View Post
    That is odd. GFCI's are usually in kitchens and bathrooms protecting the associated outlets. Lights often on a different circuit, but not always I guess.
    i believe before they were required on the entire panel, afci were put in bedroom circuits where the fire hazard is slightly higher

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by old goat View Post
    I'm gonna have to have him show me what tripped to know for sure what kind of device it was. Wasn't a breaker because it wasn't in the box. He checked all the breakers.
    You see that in old homes before codes required dedicated bath recept circuits and then gfci's were added later.

    Only thing that makes sense for a new home is if they have a walk-in shower in their master bath. It's not uncommon for the bedroom and master bath lights to share a circuit. Usually only protect the shower lights to avoid this kind of situation though.

    I doubt it's an afci outlet because legally you have to run the circuit in metal conduit to the first outlet and that's just a giant pain in the ass in a house.

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Todd Zander View Post
    i believe before they were required on the entire panel, afci were put in bedroom circuits where the fire hazard is slightly higher
    Gfci's are required for kitchens, bathrooms, washers, garages, unfinished basements, and outside outlets. Anywhere there could potentially be water.

    Afci's are pretty much required on everything else. Basically the only things not protected by one or the other are dedicated appliance circuits (microwave, fridge, stove, dryer).


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  20. #20
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    Utah amended the NEC to eliminate AFCI requirements. So varies by state.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by lake_effect View Post
    Gfci's are required for kitchens, bathrooms, washers, garages, unfinished basements, and outside outlets. Anywhere there could potentially be water.

    Afci's are pretty much required on everything else. Basically the only things not protected by one or the other are dedicated appliance circuits (microwave, fridge, stove, dryer).


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    Yes. GFCI for water.

    The arc fault is for, as an example, someone runs an extension cord under a throw rug in a room to a lamp or whatever and over time the cord sheathing wears and an arc occurs creating a fire.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jackstraw View Post
    Yes. GFCI for water.

    The arc fault is for, as an example, someone runs an extension cord under a throw rug in a room to a lamp or whatever and over time the cord sheathing wears and an arc occurs creating a fire.
    Yeah, their main purpose is fire prevention from arcing. When they first came out I thought they were a huge pain in the ass but its actually a good idea.

    Unfortunately they usually aren't installed in older homes where they would have the most impact. If circuits aren't properly grounded, which is most older homes, they are pretty much unusable because of nuisance tripping.

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  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by lake_effect View Post

    I doubt it's an afci outlet because legally you have to run the circuit in metal conduit to the first outlet and that's just a giant pain in the ass in a house.

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    They actually allow it in renovations without the metal clad requirement. At least here in FL and several other states. The theory is that it is better than what was there. On a 5 year old house though? I would guess that they tapped the lighting circuit in on the GFCI and somehow passed inspection. An electrician could fix that. It is probably not a huge issue, unless it keeps tripping.

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