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  1. #1
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    Default GFCI protected circuit

    During yesterday's inspection I counted at least 12 receptacles downstream of a 15amp GFCI. Included, five outlets in three bathrooms, one in a service room, garage and the remainder all outside serving, yard lighting, waterfall, barbecue and general purpose. I wrote this as potentially problematic from nuisance tripping. Seems like the electrician who installed the outdoor lighting and waterfall just kept adding on to the most convenient outlet, without regard to what else was being served / protected. Would anyone else have identified this as a problem or just accepted the circuit as okay, being that it is GFCI protected?

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    During yesterday's inspection I counted at least 12 receptacles downstream of a 15amp GFCI. Included, five outlets in three bathrooms, one in a service room, garage and the remainder all outside serving, yard lighting, waterfall, barbecue and general purpose. I wrote this as potentially problematic from nuisance tripping. Seems like the electrician who installed the outdoor lighting and waterfall just kept adding on to the most convenient outlet, without regard to what else was being served / protected. Would anyone else have identified this as a problem or just accepted the circuit as okay, being that it is GFCI protected?
    I think that was common practice (allowed by code) in the 70s up until the early 80s.

    Of course, newer outlets should conform to the code in effect at time of install.

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

  3. #3
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    [QUOTE=Rick Cantrell;245242]I think that was common practice (allowed by code) in the 70s up until the early 80s.

    Of course, newer outlets should conform to the code in effect at time of install.[/

    This tract home was built in 1998. All the yard additions have taken place since then, with yet another in the process of being added on another side of the yard for 'convenience' - conduit laid but no wire pulled. No permits pulled for any of the outside receptacles (except for original construction) afaik.
    I am aware of typical max. receptacles 8-10 in a 15 amp ckt but this install seems rather ridiculous.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    ... typical max. receptacles 8-10 in a 15 amp ckt but this install seems rather ridiculous.
    How many receptacle outlets are permitted on a 15 amp circuit in a dwelling unit?

    The correct answer is: How many do you want? (there is no limit)

    That said, I've heard that some GFCI receptacles state, in their installation instructions, that the GFCI should protect no more than 10 receptacles down stream from that GFCI receptacle. I haven't seen that limitation that I recall and I see no reason for that limitation either.

    Regarding the original post/question - was there someone to ask if the present occupants had problems with the breaker tripping? If not, then maybe there is nothing to be concerned with, other than noting it for the knowledge of your client. There should not be any nuisance tripping of the GFCI unless something goes bad ... and then it is not nuisance tripping, it is life-saving tripping.

    Seems to have met code at the time, probably met code at the time of installation too. Of course, though, code also says that meeting code is "not necessarily efficient, convenient, or adequate for good service"
    - 90.1 Purpose.
    - - (B) Adequacy. This Code contains provisions that are considered necessary for safety. Compliance therewith and proper maintenance results in an installation that is essentially free from hazard but not necessarily efficient, convenient, or adequate for good service or future expansion of electrical use.

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 06-29-2014 at 01:43 PM. Reason: added response to original post/question
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    How many receptacle outlets are permitted on a 15 amp circuit in a dwelling unit?

    The correct answer is: How many do you want? (there is no limit)

    That said, I've heard that some GFCI receptacles state, in their installation instructions, that the GFCI should protect no more than 10 receptacles down stream from that GFCI receptacle. I haven't seen that limitation that I recall and I see no reason for that limitation either.
    Jerry
    I understand the 'official' position on the no max. limit and I really wasn't questioning that. It just seems to me, from a design and installation p.o.v. that some kind of limit should be set especially, in this case where there are so many potential uses for appliances and equipment off the same circuit. I certainly didn't call it as any code violation or hazard, more nuisance value. The homeowner actually asked me why the GFCI tripped so frequently....Now they know.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    It just seems to me, from a design and installation p.o.v. that some kind of limit should be set especially, in this case where there are so many potential uses for appliances and equipment off the same circuit.
    Limit to the number of receptacles on the circuit or limit to the number of receptacles downstream from the GFCI?

    I agree that there should be a limit on the number of receptacles on the circuit, however, they are called "convenience" receptacles for a reason - not many are used - I would like to see twice as receptacles installed ... because that is what I like.

    Regarding the GFCI protection, though, there should not be a problem with that many receptacles downstream of the GFCI, if there are that many appliances and they have that much leakage (ground-fault current) in each, then they need to be replaced anyway.

    The homeowner actually asked me why the GFCI tripped so frequently....Now they know.
    Actually, the homeowner still does not know why the GFCI tripped so frequently - some testing needs to be done to determine which appliances have enough ground-fault current to add up to tripping the GFCI, and those appliances need to be replaced, or, better yet, wire that GFCI as by-pass instead of feed-through and install a GFCI receptacle at each receptacle outlet, that will tell them which appliance(s) are causing the problem.

    When we bought our house up here, I had all receptacles which required GFCI protection replaced with GFCI receptacles, regardless how close they were to each other. If a GFCI trips I want to be able to reset it right there - but that is me.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    I believe it was the 1996 NEC that starting requiring a 20 amp circuit for bathrooms and receptacles in locations other than bathrooms could not be on that circuit. Regardless of whether the 96 NEC was adopted in your area, it was recognized as a bad practice by them. I would point out the potential to overload that circuit.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    I believe it was the 1996 NEC that starting requiring a 20 amp circuit for bathrooms and receptacles in locations other than bathrooms could not be on that circuit.
    Bathrooms were required to have a 20 amp circuit in 1996, however, being as he did not include bathrooms as one of the locations in his list I did not want to confuse the answer by adding information outside the question ... (I know, I frequently do that anyway).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Bathrooms were required to have a 20 amp circuit in 1996, however, being as he did not include bathrooms as one of the locations in his list I did not want to confuse the answer by adding information outside the question ... (I know, I frequently do that anyway).
    Read it agin, JP. 5 outlets in 3 Bathrooms are on the top of his list.

    Nuisance tripping needs to be adressed. The breaker will self-destruct, or it might jam.

    I find a lot of GFCI's that don't trip at all. That is a hazard. I found two in this last house.
    I would call for removal of some of the lawn appliances, simple to do.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    Read it agin, JP. 5 outlets in 3 Bathrooms are on the top of his list.
    YIKES! Every time I read that I read that as "3 bedrooms"! Guess I'd better get my eyes checked for new glasses?

    Nuisance tripping needs to be adressed. The breaker will self-destruct, or it might jam.

    I find a lot of GFCI's that don't trip at all. That is a hazard. I found two in this last house.
    I would call for removal of some of the lawn appliances, simple to do.
    "Nuisance tripping" is a misnomer, while it may be a "nuisance" for the GFCI to trip, it is not as much of a nuisance as having to go to the funeral home that often.

    Instead of "nuisance tripping" it should be called "warning tripping". And it's not the GFCI I would worry about failing, it is whatever is causing the "warning tripping" - replace those appliances.

    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 protected circuit

    I didn't really have an extensive discussion with the homeowner but did discuss the issue, at length, with my client. From what I could gather from the seller the tripping GFCI has been a 'nuisance' in the past and they have not been able to identify a reason. They did have a yard receptacle moved to a dryer location and the tripping abated, somewhat. Problem is it's a large home with a variety of different appliances being used at varying times, including outdoor use by various workmen, including gardeners etc. so the homeowner might use the affected circuit without any problem, go to work and find the GFCI had tripped sometime during the day with no-one home.

    My suggestion to the client was have a sparky run one or two additional protected circuits, isolating the bathrooms and the yard. There was plenty of room left it the panel and easily accessible attic space. OTH I suppose a similar result could be achieved by just installing GFCIs at those two locations but the one circuit would still have an overload potential.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    I didn't really have an extensive discussion with the homeowner but did discuss the issue, at length, with my client. From what I could gather from the seller the tripping GFCI has been a 'nuisance' in the past and they have not been able to identify a reason. They did have a yard receptacle moved to a dryer location and the tripping abated, somewhat. Problem is it's a large home with a variety of different appliances being used at varying times, including outdoor use by various workmen, including gardeners etc. so the homeowner might use the affected circuit without any problem, go to work and find the GFCI had tripped sometime during the day with no-one home.

    My suggestion to the client was have a sparky run one or two additional protected circuits, isolating the bathrooms and the yard. There was plenty of room left it the panel and easily accessible attic space. OTH I suppose a similar result could be achieved by just installing GFCIs at those two locations but the one circuit would still have an overload potential.

    The real question is what is on the circuit that is taking the amperage and leaving little for anything else. It could be many small devices or on or two larger devices (say a large freezer in the garage or even a space heater in a bathroom etc, or combinations of them). If the circuit is seeing too much load in normal conditions to allow another few amps loading then it should be split somehow into 2 or more circuits. Regardless of code this "might" be considered a safety issue as long runs of 14 ga do have a lot of resistance in themselves. There could be excessive heat build up with the long runs and the devices pulling power consistantly.

    Making the determination of the safety and or use and or upgrades necessary and or even codes in this case is irrelevant, the OWNER stated it is a "nuisance" circuit that trips regularly and even though some changes were made continues to trip.

    I would make a statement similar to…."questionable circuit as described by Owner the circuit is a nuisance. Regardless of codes and or installation it is reccommended to have an electical contractor examaine and calculate this circuit and suggest correction."


  13. #13
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Jeanis View Post
    The real question is what is on the circuit that is taking the amperage and leaving little for anything else.
    Not being critical, but just to clarify.
    The OP (Ian) stated the GFCI was tripping indicating a ground fault, not the breaker (over current protection).
    Until the ground fault is corrected, a GFCI will continue to trip even if the circuit is upgraded to 20 amp.

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

  14. #14
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    [QUOTE=Dirk Jeanis;245356]The real question is what is on the circuit that is taking the amperage . . . If the circuit is seeing too much load in normal conditions to allow another few amps loadingUOTE]

    If the GFCI receptacle is tripping, and not the (15? amp breaker), then amperage, or too much load, is not relavent.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    During yesterday's inspection I counted at least 12 receptacles downstream of a 15amp GFCI. Included, five outlets in three bathrooms, one in a service room, garage and the remainder all outside serving, yard lighting, waterfall, barbecue and general purpose. I wrote this as potentially problematic from nuisance tripping. Seems like the electrician who installed the outdoor lighting and waterfall just kept adding on to the most convenient outlet, without regard to what else was being served / protected. Would anyone else have identified this as a problem or just accepted the circuit as okay, being that it is GFCI protected?
    15 amp GFCI permits 20 amp feed-thru, is it a 15 or a 20 amp breaker?


  15. #15
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    I don't think the OP said that there was a problem with nuisance tripping, but was concerned about the potential. I think the real concern is not how many receptacles are protected by the GFCI, but the potential to overload the circuit due to the large number of receptacles, especially since many of the receptacles are in locations where they may be heavily loaded.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    [QUOTE=Dave Ruth;245370]
    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk Jeanis View Post
    The real question is what is on the circuit that is taking the amperage . . . If the circuit is seeing too much load in normal conditions to allow another few amps loadingUOTE]

    If the GFCI receptacle is tripping, and not the (15? amp breaker), then amperage, or too much load, is not relavent.

    - - - Updated - - -


    15 amp GFCI permits 20 amp feed-thru, is it a 15 or a 20 amp breaker?
    It is a 15 amp breaker with 14 ga nmc.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Reinmiller View Post
    I don't think the OP said that there was a problem with nuisance tripping, but was concerned about the potential. I think the real concern is not how many receptacles are protected by the GFCI, but the potential to overload the circuit due to the large number of receptacles, especially since many of the receptacles are in locations where they may be heavily loaded.
    Yes that was my concern. Also, because of the number of receptacles serving the potential for a variety of appliances and uses. Should the problem persist in its existing condition, isolating a ground fault may be a challenge for the new homeowners. Which begs repeat of my original question...do others see the same problem or simply accept that the circuit, undersized or otherwise, is GFCI protected and leave it at that?


  18. #18
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    [QUOTE=Ian Page;245383]
    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Ruth View Post

    It is a 15 amp breaker with 14 ga nmc.
    Some if not all 15 amp GFI systems will throw if more than 15 amps is drawn from that receptacle. There should be a 20 amp pass through at the back so that the breaker would control the circuit.

    That being the case it is possible for the breaker under certain conditions to protect against overcurrent, therefore it might be doing so. These GFI breakers fail all the time even wihtout constant overload of circuits. The front is usually 15 amp rated, the back is 20 amp pass through rated. Current protection is not requied of the device (except possibly at its receptacles) but that does not mean it won't or cant protect and even faster than a breaker might.

    The argument was that the OWNER of the house determined the circuit to be a nuisance circuit. Therefore the ONLY thing an inspector should say is that it is time for a licensed contractor to evaluate the circuit and find out why. (protect yourself as an inspector).


  19. #19
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    [QUOTE=Dirk Jeanis;245386]
    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Page View Post
    Some if not all 15 amp GFI systems will throw if more than 15 amps is drawn from that receptacle. There should be a 20 amp pass through at the back so that the breaker would control the circuit.
    As has already been said, a gfi does not trip on overcurrent. It looks for an imbalance between hot and neutral current. At 4-6 mA of difference it trips.

    Limiting the overcurrent is the job of the breaker.

    A circuit with only two duplexes could become overloaded also. This is a design issue and proper planning would call for knowing exactly how the circuit will be used and with what loads.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: GFCI protected circuit

    Unfortunately, 'nu..trip..' was coined when the early GFCI's circuitry was a nuisance.
    "warning trip" I likes
    In commercial/industrial there is a volt/amp limitation per receptacle (not strap).
    As long as there are not any continuous loads or motor loads to consider in a circuit, add away.
    This is why there is such a device for short circuit/ ground fault/ overcurrent in the system.
    GFCI's are rated to carry max amperage of the circuit their connected to: 15, 20, etc..


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