Stupid Locations for GFI Outlets

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jeff48356

Senior Member
I was correcting electrical violations in an older home in Livonia, Michigan, and the inspector wanted GFI's in two locations that I think are totally absurd.

1) Furnace condensate pump outlet. So, what happens if the GFI trips for whatever reason, and the air conditioner happens to be running in the middle of summer (or the high-efficiency furnace in winter)? The condensate pump won't go on, and there will be a puddle of water all over the floor, possibly damaging things in the basement.

2) Garage door opener. If the GFI outlet that feeds it trips for whatever reason, the owners arriving home will not be able to open the garage door, and they won't be able to get into the house.

Why are they requiring GFI's in these places? These are about as dumb as having a GFI for the refrigerator or freezer.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
I was correcting electrical violations in an older home in Livonia, Michigan, and the inspector wanted GFI's in two locations that I think are totally absurd.

1) Furnace condensate pump outlet. So, what happens if the GFI trips for whatever reason, and the air conditioner happens to be running in the middle of summer (or the high-efficiency furnace in winter)? The condensate pump won't go on, and there will be a puddle of water all over the floor, possibly damaging things in the basement.
It is not that the inspector wants it, the NEC requires it.

210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for
Personnel.
Ground-fault circuit-interruption for personnel
shall be provided as required in 210.8(A) through (C). The
ground-fault circuit-interrupter shall be installed in a
readily accessible location.

(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-
ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in
210.8(A)(1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuitinterrupter
protection for personnel.

(5) Unfinished basements ? for purposes of this section,
unfinished basements are defined as portions or areas of
the basement not intended as habitable rooms and limited
to storage areas, work areas, and the like

Exception to (5): A receptacle supplying only a permanently
installed fire alarm or burglar alarm system shall
not be required to have ground-fault circuit-interrupter
protection.
If it trips there is something wrong with the pump.

2) Garage door opener. If the GFI outlet that feeds it trips for whatever reason, the owners arriving home will not be able to open the garage door, and they won't be able to get into the house.
It is not that the inspector wants it, the NEC requires it.

210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for
Personnel.
Ground-fault circuit-interruption for personnel
shall be provided as required in 210.8(A) through (C). The
ground-fault circuit-interrupter shall be installed in a
readily accessible location.

(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-
ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in
210.8(A)(1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuitinterrupter
protection for personnel.

(2) Garages, and also accessory buildings that have a floor
located at or below grade level not intended as habitable
rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas,
and areas of similar use
If the garage door opener trips the GFCI there is an issue with the door opener.

Furthermore if a homeowner is counting on only the door opener to work to gain entry that is dumb on their part. The garage should have a personal door or for about $15 you can install an outdoor release so you can lift the door manually.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Chamberlain-Quick-Release-Key-for-Garage-Door-Openers/15580730

Why are they requiring GFI's in these places?
Because the job of the code making panels is electrical safety and not food storage, not dry basements and not easy entry into the garage.

These are about as dumb as having a GFI for the refrigerator or freezer.
All 120 volt 15 and 20 amp receptacles in commercial kitchens require GFCI protection, refrigertors and freezers in good condition will run on a GFCI without problem.
 

chris kennedy

Senior Member
Location
Miami Fla.
Occupation
60 yr old tool twisting electrician
So, what happens if the GFI trips for whatever reason, and the air conditioner happens to be running in the middle of summer (or the high-efficiency furnace in winter)? The condensate pump won't go on, and there will be a puddle of water all over the floor, possibly damaging things in the basement.
If the pump is installed correctly, the float will rise and open the contacts for the heating/cooling systems control wiring and shut said unit down. No harm, no foul.
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
I have a 27 year old refrigerator in my basement and it has been there for 10+ years on a GFCI and it never tripped. If it does then there is a problem and quite frankly I walk down there bare footed all the time and I appreciate having the gfci.

They do make direct wired condensate pumps-- get the a/c guy to install them.

The garage door, as stated should never be the only access. The motor could possibly die also and the homeowner better have another way in. The gfci should not trip under normal circumstances.
 

Dennis Alwon

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Chapel Hill, NC
Occupation
Electrical Contractor
Rumor has it that Ohio will do away with the GFCI requirement, residential, for GDO's and sumps in January.
NC has an amendment for the sewer lift pumps for the last 3 code cycles, I believe. Not sure why they never did the sump pumps-- I wonder if it is because we don't see a lot of those in this area.

Exception No. 2 to (3): A single outlet receptacle supplied by dedicated branch circuit which is located and identified for specific use
by a sewage lift pump.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
I agree with pretty much everything that has been said. I will add in the 2011 NEC the GFCI needs to be installed in a readily accessible location. So in the ceiling for the garage door opener is not acceptable - unless the ceiling is only 6 feet high. Behind the refrigerator is usually going to be considered not readily accessible.
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
NC has an amendment for the sewer lift pumps for the last 3 code cycles, I believe. Not sure why they never did the sump pumps-- I wonder if it is because we don't see a lot of those in this area.
My guess is a dead sump pump does not generally the health hazard a dead sewer ejector is. But admittedly that is a WAG.:)
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
My guess is a dead sump pump does not generally the health hazard a dead sewer ejector is. But admittedly that is a WAG.:)
Maybe, but last I knew electrocution was a health hazard also:happyyes:

There are alarms to indicate there is a problem which you have mentioned in other threads

I used to feel some of these GFCI are not necessary, but if it is going to be cord and plug connected equipment, (especially with a 5-15 or 5-20 receptacle) I now say GFCI is best thing. If people would just plug the item in and not tamper with it or use a dedicated receptacle for other things maybe GFCI wouldn't be as necessary.

When we were allowed single dedicated receptacles for certain items I would come back some time later and find 3 way adapters in the non GFCI protected single receptacle with other items plugged into it, even if there was onother (GFCI protected) receptacle nearby.
 
It is not that the inspector wants it, the NEC requires it.



If it trips there is something wrong with the pump.



It is not that the inspector wants it, the NEC requires it.



If the garage door opener trips the GFCI there is an issue with the door opener.

Furthermore if a homeowner is counting on only the door opener to work to gain entry that is dumb on their part. The garage should have a personal door or for about $15 you can install an outdoor release so you can lift the door manually.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Chamberlain-Quick-Release-Key-for-Garage-Door-Openers/15580730



Because the job of the code making panels is electrical safety and not food storage, not dry basements and not easy entry into the garage.



All 120 volt 15 and 20 amp receptacles in commercial kitchens require GFCI protection, refrigertors and freezers in good condition will run on a GFCI without problem.
We use the MRC, not the NEC for residences in Michigan.

Google Michigan Residential Code. I have a copy around here somewhere.
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
We use the MRC, not the NEC for residences in Michigan.

Google Michigan Residential Code. I have a copy around here somewhere.
That does not change how GFCI's work or the reliability of them. Which they are pretty reliable at shutting down power when there is potential shock hazards happening, and don't care if it is going to shut down a refrigerator, sump pump, or garage door opener.
 

renosteinke

Senior Member
Location
NE Arkansas
We're assuming that the condenste pump is in an unfinished basement. Due to the nature of this forum, it ought to be made clear that there is no direct requirement that the pump, or any furnace equipment, be on a GFCI. There is just a requirement for unfinished basements ....

Ditto for the response regarding refrigerators. While I am sympathetic to the statements regarding faulty equipment, etc., there is no requirement that refrigerators be on a GFCI. There are only requirements that certain circuits have GFCI protection, and it is quite possible to power your fridge without using one of these circuits.

As for the door opener .... code language aside, are we really accomplishing anything with GFCI protection of that receptacle? GFCI's may be lovely things, but if the OP is saying that the NEC crossed the line between 'minimum safety' and 'good design,' I would not argue with him very much.

"But it's for SAFETY" one might say. Sure it is. Yet, you just might accomplish the exact opposite.
For eaxmple: There is no requirement that there be a receptacle for a door opener. There is a requirement for a light. Requiring the receptacle to be a GFCI introduces the 'law of unexpected consequences;' in this instance, that there be no receptacle there. Inspector leaves, and out comes the bulb-socket adapter, the cheap extension cord, and the staple gun. AHA! Beat the system ..... and, IMO, made things a lot less safe than had there been a proper, ordinary receptacle there.

Or ... we meet the requirement with a GFCI device up on the ceiling. I doubt it will ever be tested. If it does trip, there's the introduced risks from either climbing a ladder (want to try that with a car in the way?) or using a sharp stick.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
There are a lot of perfectly safe devices out there that routinely trip GFCIs. The problem is slowly going away on its own as older devices that exhibit this issue die off and are replaced by newer devices that have been designed not to trip GFCIs.

I would be willing to bet that the number of trips GFCIs exhibit that are truly potentially lifesaving is very small compared to the number of times they trip for no discernible reason or they just fail.

Personally, I would rather not have my sump pump fail on me. Someone who thinks they know better has decided for me that he would rather have my basement flooded rather than have the "protection" a GFCI may (or may not) provide. I am not so sure I like that choice. In any case, my basement is semi-finished. Does that count as not unfinished? And how is it that painting the walls or whatever else constitutes converting an unfinished basement into not an unfinished one makes it electrically safer?
 
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kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
210.8 Does not require GFCI protection for "circuits" it also does not require GFCI protection for refrigerators, freezers, garage door openers or sump pumps.

210.8 does require GFCI protection for receptacle outlets in certain areas that unfortunately are common places to plug in those mentioned appliances.

There used to be exceptions to allow no GFCI protection for outlets that serve those appliances but apparently people abuse the exception - a saved life is still worth more than a failed sump pump or freezer full of warm meat.

If you do not want GFCI protection on such appliances purchase one that is not cord and plug connected. May be harder to find - they do exist.
 

petersonra

Senior Member
Location
Northern illinois
Occupation
engineer
There used to be exceptions to allow no GFCI protection for outlets that serve those appliances but apparently people abuse the exception - a saved life is still worth more than a failed sump pump or freezer full of warm meat.

If you do not want GFCI protection on such appliances purchase one that is not cord and plug connected. May be harder to find - they do exist.
Two questions.

Is there any evidence at all to suggest that GFCIs on these circuits have ever saved so much as a single life?

How is it that a hard wired appliance not on a GFCI is safe, but the same exact appliance not on a GFCI is not safe?
 

kwired

Electron manager
Location
NE Nebraska
Two questions.

Is there any evidence at all to suggest that GFCIs on these circuits have ever saved so much as a single life?

How is it that a hard wired appliance not on a GFCI is safe, but the same exact appliance not on a GFCI is not safe?
First question - I don't know.

Second question - how many cord caps do you encounter with the equipment grounding pin either broken off or removed? If you can assure that the equipment grounding conductor is more likely intact like you can with hard wired equipment then GFCI protection is not as necessary as it is with cord and plug connected equipment. This is also (I assume) part of why GFCI is required for temporary receptacles for construction. Many tools have grounding type plugs and should not really need GFCI, but loss of equipment grounding is what creates most of the hazardous conditions that do exist.
 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
retired electrician
Two questions.

Is there any evidence at all to suggest that GFCIs on these circuits have ever saved so much as a single life? ...
The substantatition for the rule that required GFCI protection for the garage door cited two child fatalities from them touching the door rail that had been energized by a faulty door opener.
 
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