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  1. #1
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    Default FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    I'm pulling my pants down in an effort to flesh out other professional opinions about what I personally put in my reports regarding sump GFCI protection. I'm interested to hear both good and bad, pros and cons.

    "It is continually debated by electricians, inspectors and code officials as to whether a sump pump should be installed on a GFCI protected receptacle. Local codes may necessitate the installation of a GFCI receptacle at the sump pump location; this is to prevent electrocution or shock injuries in the event of an electrical fault or appliance malfunction. Others prefer to have a dedicated, non-GFCI receptacle to prevent the potential for nuisance tripping and increased risk of basement seepage (greater risk of shock to anyone touching malfunctioning sump pump). It is the inspector's recommendation that the receptacle be upgraded to GFCI protection as newer GFCI receptacles respond to 4-6 milliamps whereas startup pump leakage is somewhere in the range of .5 milliamps.
    Further discussion with a qualified electrician may be desired by the client."

    What would you do/say/alter?

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    Inspection Referral SOC

  2. #2
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    If the pump in in a location that would require a GFCI for other code reasons then the pump HAS to be GFCI protected.

    I installed GFCI receptacles in a basement for sump pumps and the owner returned the pump in one location 3 times before he got one that didn't trip the GFCI.

    Point and fact - the pumps are required to have leakage current low enough not to trip a GFCI if they are functioning correctly. The trip current on a GFCI is set just below the point where people begin to have heart issues and have trouble letting go of things. Any equipment that leaks enough to trip a GFCI is defective, plain and simple.

    Given the pump motor can be submersed if there's a failure I'd advocate a GFCI in all circumstances.

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Ditto Bill's response.

    There is NO REASON substantial enough to NOT HAVE GFCI PROTECTION on a sump, even when the receptacle outlet for the sump and/or the sump are not located where GFCI protection is required.

    The reason is as Bill said: The equipment is not allowed to have sufficient leakage current to trip a GFCI.

    This discussion comes up now and then because, like putting refrigerators and freezers in garages on GFCI, older motors and appliances were allowed to have up to 50 ma of leakage current. While the 50 ma of leakage current would trip the 5 ma trip level GFCI installed for personal protection - no doubt about it - the allowable leakage for motors and appliances was lowered from 50 ma to 0.5 ma quite some time ago, about 20 or more years ago.

    Thus, if a motor or appliance has more than 0.5 ma of leakage current and trips the GFCI ... it is time to replace the motor or appliance.

    If someone questions the wisdom of installing GFCI on a sump pump and says that could allow the building to flood (it could), the response to that person is: 'Would you rather the building flood, as it could, and argue with the insurance company over payment for the repairs, or, would you rather attend a funeral for the person who was going to work on it ... and argue with the insurance company over that payment?' Then you can add: 'That choice is yours, it is staying on my report.'

    "I'm pulling my pants down in an effort to flesh out other professional opinions"

    EWWW! That's not a pretty picture you are painting there!

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Wood View Post
    Yes I agree and I had this argument with the AHJ already a month ago.
    Uhh............., about the GFCIs or dropping your drawers?

    Occam's eraser: The philosophical principle that even the simplest solution is bound to have something wrong with it.

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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    Personally I wouldn't install a GFCI protected sump pump in my own home. I really don't care if the pump is leaking .007 amps to ground. I do care that a flood would cause $100K in property damage.
    Oak or walnut?

    Or is pine good enough?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ditto Bill's response.
    Ditto, ditto.

    If it's required, it's required. Regardless of what's plugged in.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    I'm throwin down w/ Robert. The typical operation of a sump is only when needed to evacuate water that is not wanted. GFI protection and motors do not pair well. Wonder how things ever worked and how so many of us are alive today when we saw the dreaded days of NO GFIs. Common sense and knowledge are better protection than GFIs ever have been or will be.


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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Jerry (and others), Just curious about how you feel about a GFCI in garage for Fridge or Freezer as opposed to a dedicated outlet for these appliances. I think your saying keep the GFCI and replace the appliance, is that right. I'm not arguing I'm just trying to learn.

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    Common sense and knowledge are better protection than GFIs ever have been or will be.
    So then tell me, as a H-I, would you write it up if there were a sump pump lugged into a non-GFI receptacle in the corner of an unfinished basement?
    What if someone then pulled the plug and plugged in a metal wet-van and got themselves electrocuted? What would your lawyer say about that?

    I'm not trying to play games here, but it seems quite hypocritical for a H-I to recommend NOT using a GFI where one is clearly required.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rees View Post
    Jerry (and others), Just curious about how you feel about a GFCI in garage for Fridge or Freezer as opposed to a dedicated outlet for these appliances. I think your saying keep the GFCI and replace the appliance, is that right. I'm not arguing I'm just trying to learn.
    Tom,

    If ANY equipment or appliance, even a freezer, trips the GFCI, and you verify that the GFCI is not defective (testing the GFCI with a Suretest digital will tell you at what level the GFCI trips at and that will tell you if the GFCI is bad or not) ... then, yes, replace the equipment or appliance (or have a good electrician take the equipment or appliance apart and find where the leakage is - if it is in the compressor of the freezer, probably worth just replacing the appliance, however, if the leakage is in the motor of a piece of equipment then it depends on the cost of the motor replacement versus the cost of the equipment ... nonetheless, though, unplug the appliance or equipment until it is replaced or repaired.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    This was the argument for eliminating the exception for a single receptacle for a dedicated appliance like a sump pump.
    That the the fact that the maximum allowed leakage for the sump has been reduced to such a low level that the sump pump motor *should not trip* the GFCI - and that if it does *something* is wrong with the sump pump.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    I agree, the problem with the sump pump is that you may never know until you really need to the pump.
    Or you touch the pump ...

    As stated above by others, if you have a sump pump and you *really* need to rely on it ... have a back-up system for its operation or a secondary back-up pump.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Or you touch the pump ...

    As stated above by others, if you have a sump pump and you *really* need to rely on it ... have a back-up system for its operation or a secondary back-up pump.
    So the GFI requirement is so unreliable/bad that you should have a back-up in case it fails ??? Another GFI power source ? A back up for the back up perhaps, ( GFI capable of course ) ? That is the definition of insanity, ( doing the same thing and expecting different results ). The protection is in the "plug-in" part of the system. If the client dives into that pump / water w/o first unplugging the power, we are better off with them out them in the gene pool. As an H.I., ( Pete ), a report must indicate whatever the jurisdictional code mandates, ( if known ). Noting the/a concern in your report kicks the liability can down the line. You can also note the unreliability history of motors and GFI protection. I/we did the electrical portion of an industrial business park. Part of the site development included a U/G pump for the fire sprinkler system in a vault. It was 50 HP and was by code design fused at 800%, ( +/- ) ? ) of it's running load. The principle was that the motor was to melt / burn out before a loss of emergency sprinkling water. The level of electrical protection was there only to prevent taking down the area power grid. There's safe and there's safe. Forget the sump GFI and mandate a "danger of electrical shock" sign.

    Last edited by Garry Blankenship; 07-09-2012 at 09:22 PM. Reason: left out "in" the gene pool

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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Where is all the data that motors and GFIs do not play well with each other? If this were the case do you not think that the CMPs would have considered this before changing the codes?

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Where is all the data that motors and GFIs do not play well with each other? If this were the case do you not think that the CMPs would have considered this before changing the codes?
    post # 2 I installed GFCI receptacles in a basement for sump pumps and the owner returned the pump in one location 3 times before he got one that didn't trip the GFCI.

    Wow; three bad pumps. I do not claim to be an E.E. that has spent a career at G.E working on motors and developing GFI technology simultaneously. I know, unlike resistive loads, motors run on magnetism repulsion and attraction and upon start they are a theoretical dead short. The potential of complication w/ GFI technology and motor magnetic fields and motor starting loads is too high for my limited knowledge comfort. The above Bill Kriegh quote is out of context and GFI complications are not an always thing, but there is a history of nusiance tripping in the technology. GFI protected power is not as reliable as non-GFI power. An important load like a sump, is just not a good application for GFI technology. If the code mandates it, so it is and so it will be, ( just not in my home ). Like Robert, I'd rather take my chances with the shock than the water damage. BTW; are the GFI protected outlets we are discussing motor rated ?

    Last edited by Garry Blankenship; 07-10-2012 at 05:57 PM. Reason: Totally wrong word, typed inductive, mean't resistive

  16. #16
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    I have a question. If a GFI is required on a sump pump that is usually located where most people don't go very often - if ever, why do some service panels have "lock-out / anti-trip" devices installed to prevent the dishwasher or whatever from tripping the breaker? Kinda defeats the purpose of the circuit breaker don'tcha think? What if someone was to "hard wire" the pump to a breaker in the panel then put an anti-trip / lock out device on the breaker - where is the difference? Just sayin'.


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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hintz View Post
    I have a question. If a GFI is required on a sump pump that is usually located where most people don't go very often - if ever, why do some service panels have "lock-out / anti-trip" devices installed to prevent the dishwasher or whatever from tripping the breaker? Kinda defeats the purpose of the circuit breaker don'tcha think? What if someone was to "hard wire" the pump to a breaker in the panel then put an anti-trip / lock out device on the breaker - where is the difference? Just sayin'.
    As Robert already said, the breaker lock would be there to lock the circuit ON, but it could still trip. If the unit were hard wired you would need a local disconnect within sight of the unit. You might also be talking about a lock out/tagout that would be required to be installed an the service person would just add their padlock to it.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  18. #18
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    So the GFI requirement is so unreliable/bad that you should have a back-up in case it fails ??? Another GFI power source ? A back up for the back up perhaps, ( GFI capable of course ) ? That is the definition of insanity, ( doing the same thing and expecting different results ). The protection is in the "plug-in" part of the system. If the client dives into that pump / water w/o first unplugging the power, we are better off with them out them in the gene pool. As an H.I., ( Pete ), a report must indicate whatever the jurisdictional code mandates, ( if known ). Noting the/a concern in your report kicks the liability can down the line. You can also note the unreliability history of motors and GFI protection. I/we did the electrical portion of an industrial business park. Part of the site development included a U/G pump for the fire sprinkler system in a vault. It was 50 HP and was by code design fused at 800%, ( +/- ) ? ) of it's running load. The principle was that the motor was to melt / burn out before a loss of emergency sprinkling water. The level of electrical protection was there only to prevent taking down the area power grid. There's safe and there's safe. Forget the sump GFI and mandate a "danger of electrical shock" sign.
    How about if the pump is so cheaply made that it keeps tripping a new GFI? The GFI IS required, so let's make a better quality pump. Hmmmmm....not so insane IMO.


    Also, I was questioning your advice to NOT GFI protect a receptacle in an area that SPECIFICALLY requires it. Do you give the same advise in your HI report?
    And the point was not working on the pump, it was the fat that we KNOW someone will eventually go down into the wet crawl space and use that receptacle for something else.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    ...
    I know, unlike inductive loads, motors run on magnetism repulsion and attraction and upon start they are a theoretical dead short. The potential of complication w/ GFI technology and motor magnetic fields and motor starting loads is too high for my limited knowledge comfort. The above Bill Kriegh quote is out of context and GFI complications are not an always thing, but there is a history of nusiance tripping in the technology. GFI protected power is not as reliable as non-GFI power. An important load like a sump, is just not a good application for GFI technology. If the code mandates it, so it is and so it will be, ( just not in my home ). Like Robert, I'd rather take my chances with the shock than the water damage. BTW; are the GFI protected outlets we are discussing motor rated ?

    Huh?!? What the heck are you talking about?!?

    A cord-and-plug connected LISTED "sump pump" is a self-contained device that does not require a separate starter or motor controller?!?


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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    A simple alarm that goes off before the basement can flood is easy enough to install.
    I recommend the cheap battery operated model at least. Sewage pumps have more elaborate systems available.

    The backup pump, preferably battery operated, is not for the event of a GFCI failure. It is a replacement for when the pump goes bad, or when there is a power outage. I recommend that, too.

    Ideally there should be another GFCI receptacle nearby. This will prevent someone unplugging the pump, never a good thing.
    When you've slithered up to a crawlspace sump pit and found the pump plugged into a chain of cheap 2-prong extension cords, you start to appreciate the shock hazard of power cords in the mud.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  21. #21
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Huh?!? What the heck are you talking about?!?

    A cord-and-plug connected LISTED "sump pump" is a self-contained device that does not require a separate starter or motor controller?!?
    Pursuant to the OP title, I posted some friendly discussion on the Sump GFI debate. I'm not questioning or concerned with the starter / controller system, but the compatability of motor loads and GFCI protection. I do not believe a GFCI receptacle is a good application for a sump pump, ( a motor for that matter ), and the heck I was talking about was an explanation effort, as to why. I realize this is contrary to current code, but it is the debate issue initiated by the OP. But for some differing views, there would be no debate. When those GFI recetacles are mass produced, is it with the knowledge and specific approval for use with motor loads ? Are the sump pumps specifically U/L listed for use with a GFI receptacle ? Questions that I cannot answer. I have experienced enough nusiance tripping problems with both GFCI and AFCI protection that I have very limited confidence. Adding more power loss/outage potential that comes with GFCI protection is something I would not do with a sump pump - - - willingly.


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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    When I have the responsibility to enforce the code (AHJ), I do my job.
    As to my own home, I elect for a single Receptacle... w/no children.
    When selling someday I'll install a GFCI and leave it up to the next owner to do what they will.
    GFCI sump, good idea, but not for me personally. Sometimes the owner will tell me they are changing it out for a single O, in protest. I just smile cause I would do the same.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    So the GFI requirement is so unreliable/bad that you should have a back-up in case it fails ??? Another GFI power source ? A back up for the back up perhaps, ( GFI capable of course ) ? That is the definition of insanity, ( doing the same thing and expecting different results ).
    Someone does not understand what is being stated and discussed ...

    The GFCI is to protect PEOPLE.

    When, if, the GFCI trips ... SOMETHING IS WRONG WITH THE PUMP ... not the GFCI.

    Thus, when, or if, SOMETHING GOES WRONG WITH THE PUMP and trips the GFCI, and if you are indeed MORE CONCERNED about the physical things than the people, THEN YOU HAVE A BACKUP SYSTEM which kicks in when, or it, the first sump shuts down due to a failure within the pump.

    You could have a battery backup sump pump, I've also hear of water operated sump pumps designed for use as backups.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    I recently viewed a water-run backup system. Funny thing however, they were on a well... think about it


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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by bob smit View Post
    I recently viewed a water-run backup system. Funny thing however, they were on a well... think about it
    Think about what? Just because a sump pump may shut down due to tripping its GFCI protection has nothing to do with the pump for the well or loss of overall power (which is what I suspect you were alluding to).

    Heck, the car being used to flee the floods could run out of gas too ... and if power was off all over, then the gas pumps would not be working either.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Interesting friendly discussion! I guess if you take it to the extreme, you could argue that the sump pump shouldn't even be on a circuit breaker, after all, a breaker is just another ground fault device.
    The main problem is GFCI's are often tripped by lightning, a home inspector, etc. and nobody knows it until it's too late (personal experience with a freezer). Probably not that often by the pump itself. The alarm on the GFCI receptacle sounds like a good idea. Or a cheaper solution would be a plug in emergency light that goes on when the power is off.

    END GLOBAL WHINING

  27. #27
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Benjamin Thompson View Post
    Interesting friendly discussion! I guess if you take it to the extreme, you could argue that the sump pump shouldn't even be on a circuit breaker, after all, a breaker is just another ground fault device.
    The main problem is GFCI's are often tripped by lightning, a home inspector, etc. and nobody knows it until it's too late (personal experience with a freezer). Probably not that often by the pump itself. The alarm on the GFCI receptacle sounds like a good idea. Or a cheaper solution would be a plug in emergency light that goes on when the power is off.
    No breaker at all - - - and I thought I was on the radical side. If you Google GFCI nuisance tripping there are plenty of links that say GFCI should not be used for ~ freezers, fridges, "sump pumps", lighting in areas where the loss could be dangerous, etc. None of those comments / recommendations were NFPA or NEC sanctioned. Nothing wrong with protecting people, but I suppose the debate part is how far do you go ? A mandate for head to toe bubble-pack clothing could insulate us from shock and bruising and eliminate the need for GFCI protection. All told; I think the codes do a pretty good job, just not a perfect one.


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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    If you investigated those cases of "nuisance tripping" how many would actually be found to be defective appliances and the GFI tripping potentially saved someones life? Consider that the UL allowed leakage current is about 1/10th of the tripping level of a GFI I would say the problem point to the appliance.

    I can't think of any location in which the NEC requires GFI protection for lighting.

    Remember, the NEC is concerned with life safety, not a freezer of food.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    If you are concerned about the GFCI tripping thereby leaving the sump pump without power this device may be the answer.

    It plugs into a 110v outlet (even GFCI)
    Has pass through power to your equipment
    You just plug the sump pump, (freezer, etc) into the device
    The beeper alerts you if there is a loss of power

    Lets you have the safety of GFCI and also alerts you of any power failure.

    Power Failiure Alarm

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    Jerry, you missed the most important part of that post a water-run backup system , those need to be connected to a municipal water system (not a well which doesn't work during a power failure) to work since they run on solely on water pressure.

    I know, I have one.
    Robert,

    Yep, I missed the part of having to be connected to a municipal water system ... and I am STILL missing it - would you point out the post where that was stated? I must have gone blind. Thanks.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    No breaker at all - - - and I thought I was on the radical side. If you Google GFCI nuisance tripping there are plenty of links that say GFCI should not be used for ~ freezers, fridges, "sump pumps", lighting in areas where the loss could be dangerous, etc.
    No doubt you will find those posts and that information, and for good reason too ...

    ... that USED to be true ... I guess you missed the part in some of the posts about this issue where the allowable leakage in equipment and appliances USED to be high enough to trip GFCIs, which meant that not a single one was caused by nuisance tripping, they were caused by HIGH LEAKAGE CURRENT within the equipment or appliance.

    The levels of leakage current were lowered about, well, probably about 20-30 years ago now. Sure the OLD stuff would trip the GFCIs, but the newER stuff does not, not unless there is a problem.

    And the OLD stuff which does trip the GFCIs simply means that IT IS FRIGGIN' DANGEROUS and is in need of replacement.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by bob smit View Post
    I recently viewed a water-run backup system. Funny thing however, they were on a well... think about it
    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    Sure it's in Bob's post in red.
    Bob's post does not say anything at all about being run from a municipal water system.

    Bob's post only says that it is water-run, and, unless I have been misinformed all these years, wells provide water, thus a well could provide water for a water-run back-up system.

    Please make sure that you are stating what is said, not what you think is meant, when referring to a post and pointing out what you think it says. Thanks.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    I forgot to add that the link does not say what you think is says either: (underlining and bold are mine)
    "
    The SumpJetŪ (Model SJ10) is a water powered back-up sump pump that will protect your basement in the case of a power outage. This unique product is powered by your municipal water supply** and requires no electricity to operate! With a compact high efficiency design, The SumpJetŪ removes 2 gallons of sump water per 1 gallon used. The SumpJetŪ is fully automatic, arrives completely assembled, and comes backed with Liberty's standard 3 year warranty.

    *The SJ10 pumping performance varies with inlet water source pressure and pumping head. See complete specifications and performance chart for expected flow rates.

    **The SJ10 requires an uninterrupted water source to operate. If you have a well pump, the SJ10 will not operate during power outages.
    "

    That does not say that you can only use it on a municipal water supply system, it says that if you have a well and lose power, the pump will not operate during a power outage.

    Again, it gets back to what is written and what it says, not what you think it meant to say.

    I already pointed out that if you had a water-run back-up system and lost power, that the back-up system would no longer run.

    I also already pointed out that just because the electric sump pump trips the GFCI, that does not mean the water-run back-up will not work - IT WILL WORK ... unless you ALSO lose power to everything.

    Which is when I pointed out that if you lose power to everything and drive to leave, and run out of gas, it is likely that the gas station ALSO will have lost power and you would not be able to get gas ...

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  34. #34
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    Jerry let's try this one last time. I can't speak for Bob but he said a water run backup system which won't run during a power failure when the water system (a well) needs electricity to run.
    Duh! But it WILL RUN when there IS power and there IS water flow.

    Even that manufacturer *does not state that those are not to be used on well systems*, they only advise you that if you loose power then the pump will not work - which is, and should be, rather obvious.

    Never lost municipal water pressure? Happens quite often, which is why the "boil water" orders are given to often.

    Part of the reason you install water driven back up sump pumps is so that you have sump pump protection even during a power failure.
    Correct as stated: "Part of the reason ... "

    Another reason is what I have already given in numerous posts - if there is a pump failure and electrical leakage, the GFCI will trip. That means that while you STILL have electrical power, the sump is off.

    I'm surprised you're not getting this.
    Seems as though you are not getting it.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    No, actually I got it from the beginning.
    Apparently not ... otherwise you would not have continued for some umpteen ( ) dozen posts.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Post Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Pros: shock protection. Cons: GFCI outlets do fail, lost power may result in water damage.

    Most pumps are either insulated or grounded, or both.

    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
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  37. #37
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Aldering View Post
    Pros: shock protection.
    prevents/reduces risk of electrical shock and/or electrocution = save human life

    Cons: GFCI outlets do fail, lost power may result in water damage.
    water damage = physical property damage

    Here is the final equation to balance out: save human life = risk of property damage.

    If you can't do that math, then there is no need to continue this discussion.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  38. #38
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    prevents/reduces risk of electrical shock and/or electrocution = save human life



    water damage = physical property damage

    Here is the final equation to balance out: save human life = risk of property damage.

    If you can't do that math, then there is no need to continue this discussion.
    Aside from being homocentric, the equation is distorted. Electrical safety devices reduce the remote likelyhood of electrical shocks. There is a difference between the possibility of getting shocked and death caused by shock. Humans do die from electrical shock, but statistically I'm sure it's way down the probability list. Weigh that against property damage there is worthy consideration. Last time I saw human population numbers they indicated anything but a shortage that needed saving.


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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    No you may not employ the referenced water powered backup sump upon a private well/pump supplied system, as there is no protection from the contamination of the supply or the pit in the event of loss of electrical power/flood is not assured. (RPZ flooded from pump discharge when less than 30 psi at supply point). Many water authorities (ex. those with water use restrictions) outright ban these type systems), some areas with water right limitations also prohibit their use (even with private water sources, and those with auto-engage NG powered generator back-up pumps for supply pressure).

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 07-14-2012 at 12:22 PM.

  40. #40
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    No you may not employ the referenced water powered backup sump upon a private well/pump supplied system, as there is no protection from the contamination of the supply or the pit in the event of loss of electrical power/flood is not assured. (RPZ flooded from pump discharge when less than 30 psi at supply point). Many water authorities (ex. those with water use restrictions) outright ban these type systems), some areas with water right limitations also prohibit their use (even with private water sources, and those with auto-engage NG powered generator back-up pumps for supply pressure).
    Huh?

    You mean you are not allowed to install such protection on that backup system?

    I must have missed that in the installation instructions - please point that prohibition out to me. Thank you.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  41. #41
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    Jerry let's try this one last time. I can't speak for Bob but he said a water run backup system which won't run during a power failure when the water system (a well) needs electricity to run.

    Part of the reason you install water driven back up sump pumps is so that you have sump pump protection even during a power failure. A well, driven by electricity, will eliminate the backup when the power is out so you will have no electric sump pump and no water driven pump either. He said " think about it" which I did. I'm surprised you're not getting this.
    whenever you install a water assisted sump you should make sure to have a separate discharge.i've seen them installed into the sewer drain seen that drain freeze and the pump remain running,filling the basement with municipal water


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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Fresh from Today's Insp - Non GFI protected outlet "In" the basin !!!

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  43. #43
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hintz View Post
    Fresh from Today's Insp - Non GFI protected outlet "In" the basin !!!
    Good stuff Jim. Actually; my bet is that receptacle is ground fault protected. When the water level gets to that outlet it should fault to ground and trip the breaker, ( non-GFCI breaker I should add ).


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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    Good stuff Jim. Actually; my bet is that receptacle is ground fault protected. When the water level gets to that outlet it should fault to ground and trip the breaker, ( non-GFCI breaker I should add ).
    Hi Garry. Actually, it was controlled by a switch at the front porch that also controlled another non-gfi protected exterior outlet. The basin it was located in was for a water feature in the front yard. "Zinsco" panel in the basement - think the breaker'd trip if need be?


  45. #45
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    Good stuff Jim. Actually; my bet is that receptacle is ground fault protected. When the water level gets to that outlet it should fault to ground and trip the breaker, ( non-GFCI breaker I should add ).
    I'd bet you $1,000,000 it would NOT trip a regular breaker.
    Water itself will NOT cause a "fault". I've seen 240v well pressure switches under water, and live. I've seen full 200A panels underwater, and LIVE.

    BTW, that whole thing is a hack job. It's a great example of how NOT to do it, on many levels.


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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hintz View Post
    Fresh from Today's Insp - Non GFI protected outlet "In" the basin !!!
    I was gonna say, GFI breaker?
    I guess not. lol


  47. #47
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    I'd bet you $1,000,000 it would NOT trip a regular breaker.
    Water itself will NOT cause a "fault". I've seen 240v well pressure switches under water, and live. I've seen full 200A panels underwater, and LIVE.

    BTW, that whole thing is a hack job. It's a great example of how NOT to do it, on many levels.
    Agree w/ the hack job. The water as a conductor is a different matter. It depends on what is in the water. Pure water is not a good conductor, but just add some impurities like minerals, salt in particular, and it becomes a great conductor. Ground water is never "pure", but that is a relative term. A big reason people get shocked so often is the salt content in blood & prespiration. I have not seen hot panels underwater, but have seen salt water used as a conductor for a variable control switch. Hook a battery to an incandescent light bulb, (through a glass of pure water ), and it will not glow. Start sprinkling in some salt and watch that lamp get brighter and brighter. I have not Googled up supportive data, but it is out there and your million bucks is in serious jeopardy. I'd give that breaker tripping likelyhood 50/50 at best. If somebody pees in that water feature pond, the odds move in my favor


  48. #48
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Sorry, even salt will not allow enough current to trip a 20 or even 15 amp breaker.


  49. #49
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
    Sorry, even salt will not allow enough current to trip a 20 or even 15 amp breaker.
    I cannot find anything in a brief search that gets into specific amperage, but there are lots of salt water conductivity links.

    electrochemistry - Is sea water more conductive than pure water because "electrical current is transported by the ions in solution"? - Physics

    Q & A: conducting salt water | Department of Physics | University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    "Winning" the debate is of limited importance to me ( I'd say no importance, but I'm a guy ), but I'd love to know more about salt water conductivity and specific amperage. Gimme $ 500K for now and the second installment after more research


  50. #50
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    Post Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    prevents/reduces risk of electrical shock and/or electrocution = save human life



    water damage = physical property damage

    Here is the final equation to balance out: save human life = risk of property damage.

    If you can't do that math, then there is no need to continue this discussion.
    I would never wager that a GFCI will perform properly. Therefore, I would not equate a GFCI to a saved life. Only to reduced risk, and that is questionable.

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

  51. #51
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Blankenship View Post
    So the GFI requirement is so unreliable/bad that you should have a back-up in case it fails ??? Another GFI power source ? A back up for the back up perhaps, ( GFI capable of course ) ? That is the definition of insanity, ( doing the same thing and expecting different results ). The protection is in the "plug-in" part of the system. If the client dives into that pump / water w/o first unplugging the power, we are better off with them out them in the gene pool. As an H.I., ( Pete ), a report must indicate whatever the jurisdictional code mandates, ( if known ). Noting the/a concern in your report kicks the liability can down the line. You can also note the unreliability history of motors and GFI protection. I/we did the electrical portion of an industrial business park. Part of the site development included a U/G pump for the fire sprinkler system in a vault. It was 50 HP and was by code design fused at 800%, ( +/- ) ? ) of it's running load. The principle was that the motor was to melt / burn out before a loss of emergency sprinkling water. The level of electrical protection was there only to prevent taking down the area power grid. There's safe and there's safe. Forget the sump GFI and mandate a "danger of electrical shock" sign.


    Aren't back up sump pumps battery operated?

    How would you back up the AC power grid going down?

    I still remember the Ice Storm in Upstate NY in the 90's that took out large sectors of the electrical grid and the gratitude expressed by my eighty year old neighbor when I offered him an extension cord from my generator.

    He had been up all night in 30 minute shifts with his spouse, hand bailing the crock in the basement that was filling to the top every 10 minutes.

    Subsequently, he purchased one with battery back up.

    Not sure how long the batteries lasted for but it sure went a long way easing their anxiety over a similar event recurring.


  52. #52
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    Default Re: FRIENDLY Sump GFCI Debate

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Aldering View Post
    I would never wager that a GFCI will perform properly. Therefore, I would not equate a GFCI to a saved life. Only to reduced risk, and that is questionable.
    So you would remove all GFCIs?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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