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Thread: GFCI question

  1. #1
    dan orourke's Avatar
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    Default GFCI question

    Last edited by dan orourke; 01-02-2008 at 06:57 AM.

  2. #2
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    Cool Re: GFCI question

    Dan, no requirement as it's probably a LV system anyhow and why are you inspecting the irrigation system?
    Other than such a system being equipped with back-water valves I see no good reason to go there?

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: GFCI question

    Jerry,

    We inspect sprinkler systems quite often and is the norm I thought.

    We can identify damaged and broken heads, suspected broken supply lines below the ground. We inspect the shutoff's for rust or damaged handles.

    We charge extra for it, but I can't ever tell you of one client who turned it down.


  4. #4
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    We check'em daily...

    Rich


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    Default Re: GFCI question

    Quote Originally Posted by dan orourke View Post
    Is there any requirement stating that the lawn sprinkler control box should not be on a GFCI receptacle outlet? I would think there might be some , possible nuisance tripping - - unlikley , though?
    Dan,

    Two answers as questions.

    1) Is that receptacle outside and is it a 120 volt 15 or 20 amp receptacle?

    2) Is that receptacle on a circuit dedicated for snow melting equipment and not readily accessible? (By the way, that does not include "snowblowers" or other portable equipment, the exception only applies to "fixed" equipment.)

    If 1) is yes and 2) is no, then YES, GFCI protection *IS* required.

    This is easy to remember:
    1) If it's outside. Yes. Period.
    2) Unless you really have some crazy homeowner who has "fixed" snow melting or deicing equipment "built in" to the house, drive, porch, etc., and the receptacle outlet is over 6'8' above the ground ... hmmmm ... measuring with snow or no snow ... go back to 1) Period.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  6. #6
    Joe Nernberg's Avatar
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    Cool Re: GFCI question

    Typically I DO NOT run the automatic sprinkler system. However, I DO note sprinkler valves installed below grade (the anti siphone device must be 6-inches above the highest sprinkler head), valves that are missing an anti siphon/vacuum breaker device, and sprinklers that are over-spraying the wall cladding (the real estate agent provides the buyer with a Natural Hazards Disclosure booklet that states this condition may cause mold).

    Sprinkler timers should be plugged into a single-use receptacle if in the garage. GFCI devices are a nuisance tripping concern.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Nernberg View Post
    Sprinkler timers should be plugged into a single-use receptacle if in the garage. GFCI devices are a nuisance tripping concern.
    Most sprinkler timers do not come with a cord and plug and are typically permanently wired.

    However, NO appliance should trip a GFCI.

    Modern day standards for ground fault allowances within the appliances themselves are .05 ma. GFCI trip at 5 ma plus or minus 1. That means the ground fault in the appliance (and, yes, sprinkler times are an appliance) would need to have a ground fault of 1000 times it's allowable ground fault current to trip a GFCI.

    THAT is not "nuisance" tripping. THAT is exactly what GFCIs are made for.

    If you run across "nuisance" tripping, what you have really found is something which needs to be replaced ... before it kills someone.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  8. #8
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    [quote=Jerry Peck;9857]Most sprinkler timers do not come with a cord and plug and are typically permanently wired.[/quote]

    We never see them hardwired around here. Never.

    Allways the plug-in variety.

    As Rick stated, most all Texas inspectors do sprinkler systems for an add-on fee to every inspection (50% of all homes have them).


  9. #9
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    Quote Originally Posted by dan orourke View Post
    I won't write it up!
    If in the garage, it STILL REQUIRES GFCI protection (if cord and plug connected) ... unless it is over 6' 8" above the floor.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    We never see them hardwired around here. Never.

    Allways the plug-in variety.[/quote]

    Do the installation instructions show them as being cord and plug connected? Or only permanently wired?

    Probably 90% of the houses I inspected had sprinkler systems, I checked for 'operation', but not for 'coverage'. I've seen a few inspection reports which stated 'sprinkler system operated and provided adequate/full/whatever coverage' - BAD IDEA (in my opinion) to address "coverage".

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  11. #11
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    Coverage and check valve is specifically excluded from my inspection, only visible components and function of the system in manual mode, since I won't be back to see if the timer turns the system on a 6 am.. Most common issue is broken heads (gysers), missing check valves, and specific zones not working.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  12. #12
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Luttrall View Post
    Most common issue is broken heads (gysers), missing check valves, and specific zones not working.
    I didn't even check for missing heads. I told my clients that, even if all the heads were there during the inspection, expect some to come off or be broken off before closing.

    I checked operation of the pump (if a well, lake, canal, etc.) or city water supply, and operation of the zone valve, unless the system was buried electric valves.

    Too many other big things to check than to run around looking for sprinkler heads missing.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  13. #13
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    Lightbulb Re: GFCI question

    In south-west Michigan, it is very unusual that a sprinkler control box is hard-wired, unless it is more than 8-10 years old. Today's equipment in use locally is generally low-voltage, with chord and plug wiring for power. The transformer may be chord mounted or in the control box. Though the reasoning presented thus far does not appear the make the issue significant either way, for or against obtaining power from a GFCI outlet or non-GFCI outlet, there is one reason that would lead me to believe that it would not hurt: lightening.

    In more than one instance, I have had the unfortunate opportunity to review lightening damage to residences that have occurred when the electrical discharge utilized the sprinkler system to enter the residence and wreak havoc. In one particular case, lightening struck way out in the yard. The current traveled along the piping/control wiring, ripping open the ground as it went. It then entirely decimated the control box, blowing it off the wall and through the opposite wall. Before the "circuit" opened, enough energy entered the residence electrical system to fry most circuitry, and then proceeded to blow the electric meter off of the house. Arching damage was also an issue.

    It seems a GFCI outlet might have helped mitigate some of that damage. So, certainly for safety reasons, just keep it simple: plug it into a GFCI protected circuit.

    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Aldering View Post
    Though the reasoning presented thus far does not appear the make the issue significant either way, for or against obtaining power from a GFCI outlet or non-GFCI outlet, ...

    Randy,

    Just curious about what part of receptacles installed outdoors requiring GFCI protection, and receptacles installed in garages requiring GFCI protection, leaves the issue clouded in any way?



    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  15. #15
    Philip Desmarais's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    Randy, I would exercise caution in recommending or discussing the use of a GFCI to avoid lightning damage. If they did prevent lightning damage you can be sure the manufacturer would advertise it as having that capability. GFCI receptacles and breakers are not lightning arrestors.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Aldering View Post
    In south-west Michigan, it is very unusual that a sprinkler control box is hard-wired, unless it is more than 8-10 years old. Today's equipment in use locally is generally low-voltage, with chord and plug wiring for power. The transformer may be chord mounted or in the control box. Though the reasoning presented thus far does not appear the make the issue significant either way, for or against obtaining power from a GFCI outlet or non-GFCI outlet, there is one reason that would lead me to believe that it would not hurt: lightening.

    In more than one instance, I have had the unfortunate opportunity to review lightening damage to residences that have occurred when the electrical discharge utilized the sprinkler system to enter the residence and wreak havoc. In one particular case, lightening struck way out in the yard. The current traveled along the piping/control wiring, ripping open the ground as it went. It then entirely decimated the control box, blowing it off the wall and through the opposite wall. Before the "circuit" opened, enough energy entered the residence electrical system to fry most circuitry, and then proceeded to blow the electric meter off of the house. Arching damage was also an issue.

    It seems a GFCI outlet might have helped mitigate some of that damage. So, certainly for safety reasons, just keep it simple: plug it into a GFCI protected circuit.
    Randy,

    We always like pictures if you have any.

    badair http://www.adairinspection.com Garland, TX 75042 TREC # 4563
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: GFCI question

    Almost every home here has a sprinkler system. The ones that use pumps are usually hard wired and run of the main disconnect on their own breaker. In most cases, even the solenoid operated systems are run of the main panel with their own breaker.

    I check the pump/solenoid, zone index valve, and the coverage.

    See below.

    The first picture is of a broken pipe and the water was undermining the patio slab.
    The second picture is a sprinkler head with the top chopped off. It was shooting straight up into the air. Good thing the Realtors new Infinity was moved prior to testing!
    The third is of several heads with low pressure. Probably a broken pipe in the yard somewhere.

    Probably only a couple of hundred dollars to fix, but, I do recall one inspection that was similar to this and the entire system had to be replaced. Seems someone used regular glue for all of the joints. Jim Bob strikes again on that one!

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