Buying Condo, GFCI Problems

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I have a two-day old agreement to buy a condo. The condo has one full bath and a small kitchen. Today with my realtor I did a two-hour inspection. Wit h a GFCI tester, I found that none of the kitchen nor bathroom outlets were GFCI protected. Furthermore, one of the kitchen outlets shows an "Open Gro und" with my GFCI tester. I checked the voltage between the hot wire and gr ound in this outlet, and it reads about 0 volts (nowhere near the 120 volts or so it should read). The cover plate of this kitchen outlet has some sil icone-looking like sealant around its edge.
In the condo's breaker box, the breakers for the kitchen and bath outlets d o not appear to be GFCI. Even if they were, the fact is no breaker nor GFCI button trips when I press the test button on my GFCI tester for the bath a nd kitchen outlets.
I suspect that the bathroom and kitchen outlets at one time were GFCI, but the GFCI outlet(s) failed. Someone maybe went cheap and did not put in new GFCI outlets? Furthermore, they wired the outlet in the kitchen incorrectly ?
I sold my house this past September and went through the inspection process . You all gave me a good education on GFCI protection. Because of the couns el here, I have my own GFCI tester. I also have a voltmeter.
Any advice on what to ask from the seller on this matter? I would rather ma ke the repair myself, on a hunch that the problem is as I describe above.
I found two more problems about which I will post separately.
Thank you in advance.
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On 03/21/2015 03:26 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

You need to point that out to the seller then see if he will agree to take $1000 (or so) off the selling price.
OTOH: If you are financing the purchase, the bank may require the house to pass an electrical inspection (among other things) and it would be be seller's responsibility.
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On Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 4:26:36 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

h and a small kitchen. Today with my realtor I did a two-hour inspection. W ith a GFCI tester, I found that none of the kitchen nor bathroom outlets we re GFCI protected. Furthermore, one of the kitchen outlets shows an "Open G round" with my GFCI tester. I checked the voltage between the hot wire and ground in this outlet, and it reads about 0 volts (nowhere near the 120 vol ts or so it should read). The cover plate of this kitchen outlet has some s ilicone-looking like sealant around its edge.

do not appear to be GFCI. Even if they were, the fact is no breaker nor GF CI button trips when I press the test button on my GFCI tester for the bath and kitchen outlets.

t the GFCI outlet(s) failed. Someone maybe went cheap and did not put in ne w GFCI outlets? Furthermore, they wired the outlet in the kitchen incorrect ly?

ss. You all gave me a good education on GFCI protection. Because of the cou nsel here, I have my own GFCI tester. I also have a voltmeter.

make the repair myself, on a hunch that the problem is as I describe above.

It's anyone's guess as to what all is wrong. If it was contructed when grounds were required, there should be grounds present at all the outlets. It's not real old wiring with no grounds is it? So, most likely it's what you think it is, someone screwed it up at one or more of the outlets. But it could be other trouble too, like trouble in some junction box somewhere.
From the description it sounds like you're saying you didn't see any evidence of GFCI at all. If it was built prior to GFCI's being required in those locations, then it would be code compliant as is, except for the m issing ground. And all that could be corrected by correctly attaching the ground wire and adding GFCI outlet/s. One GFCI could protect the other ones on that circuit, if it's installed upstream. Or you could put in a GFCI breaker, but I'd go the outlet route personally. If that's all it is, then it's a cheap DIY. If the wiring is screwed up someone else, it was a hack job where the problem is covered up behind sheetrock, etc, then who knows....
If it were me, I'd probably have hired an inspector, let them flag everythi ng, give the seller a list and tell them you either want the stuff fixed or you're willing to accept a negotiable discount instead.
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On Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 2:56:59 PM UTC-6, trader_4 wrote:

.

No. The condo was built somewhere between 1992 and 1995. I checked a few of the outlets in the living room and bedroom. They showed 120 volts between the hot line and the ground.

Understood.

missing ground. And all that could be corrected by correctly attaching

Understood.

hing,

Okay, thank you.
Philo, this is a cash deal, no financing. The contract has the usual langua ge about inspections, corrections, and resolving them. I can back out right now over this, at no loss of money. I would rather resolve the problems. T hank you for your estimate of an appropriate amount to ask.
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On Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 5:07:40 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Then the appropriate outlets in the baths, kitchen, garage (if there is one), should be GFCI protected. It's not unusual for one outlet somewhere to be protecting other outlets downstream, but you should have seen some somewhere and as you say, your test gizmo didn't trip any. Possible somebody with their own agenda took them out.
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On 03/21/2015 04:07 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Ok it was just an estimate but no matter what, a good way to get the present owner to lower the price a little bit.
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On 3/21/2015 4:26 PM, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

When was the place built? Perhaps it was not code if it is an older place. I think NEC was even in the 90', other local codes around 1971
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On Saturday, March 21, 2015 at 4:26:36 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

h and a small kitchen. Today with my realtor I did a two-hour inspection. W ith a GFCI tester, I found that none of the kitchen nor bathroom outlets we re GFCI protected. Furthermore, one of the kitchen outlets shows an "Open G round" with my GFCI tester. I checked the voltage between the hot wire and ground in this outlet, and it reads about 0 volts (nowhere near the 120 vol ts or so it should read). The cover plate of this kitchen outlet has some s ilicone-looking like sealant around its edge.

do not appear to be GFCI. Even if they were, the fact is no breaker nor GF CI button trips when I press the test button on my GFCI tester for the bath and kitchen outlets.

t the GFCI outlet(s) failed. Someone maybe went cheap and did not put in ne w GFCI outlets? Furthermore, they wired the outlet in the kitchen incorrect ly?

ss. You all gave me a good education on GFCI protection. Because of the cou nsel here, I have my own GFCI tester. I also have a voltmeter.

make the repair myself, on a hunch that the problem is as I describe above.

*Two weeks ago I completed a bunch of repairs to house that had been sold. A lot of things showed up in the inspection report. It took two guys 10 h ours to correct all of the problems because everything that we touched open ed up a can of worms. Almost all of the issues were as a result of the hom eowners doing their own electrical work.
The fact that there is no GFCI protection on multiple circuits in this cond o is troubling. Kitchens, garages, outside, and bathrooms all need GFCI pr otected outlets. I am wondering if the homeowner did their own repairs or changes to the wiring. That caulked outlet is an indication of a hatchet j ob.
Ask for a few hundred dollars to install GFCI's and correct problems. If y ou had more time I would suggest getting an electrician to have a look.
John Grabowski http://www.MrElectrician.TV
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On Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 8:45:00 AM UTC-4, John G wrote:
e:

ath and a small kitchen. Today with my realtor I did a two-hour inspection. With a GFCI tester, I found that none of the kitchen nor bathroom outlets were GFCI protected. Furthermore, one of the kitchen outlets shows an "Open Ground" with my GFCI tester. I checked the voltage between the hot wire an d ground in this outlet, and it reads about 0 volts (nowhere near the 120 v olts or so it should read). The cover plate of this kitchen outlet has some silicone-looking like sealant around its edge.

ts do not appear to be GFCI. Even if they were, the fact is no breaker nor GFCI button trips when I press the test button on my GFCI tester for the ba th and kitchen outlets.

but the GFCI outlet(s) failed. Someone maybe went cheap and did not put in new GFCI outlets? Furthermore, they wired the outlet in the kitchen incorre ctly?

cess. You all gave me a good education on GFCI protection. Because of the c ounsel here, I have my own GFCI tester. I also have a voltmeter.

r make the repair myself, on a hunch that the problem is as I describe abov e.

. A lot of things showed up in the inspection report. It took two guys 10 hours to correct all of the problems because everything that we touched op ened up a can of worms. Almost all of the issues were as a result of the h omeowners doing their own electrical work.

ndo is troubling. Kitchens, garages, outside, and bathrooms all need GFCI protected outlets. I am wondering if the homeowner did their own repairs o r changes to the wiring. That caulked outlet is an indication of a hatchet job.

you had more time I would suggest getting an electrician to have a look.

I especially agree with the observation about no GFCI's apparently being present. In the period it was built, they were required. That they are all missing, suggests to me that it may be more than incompetence. Could be someone with an agenda, that doesn't like GFCI's. Given the missing ground, caulk job, etc, it sounds like maybe it's both.
If it were me, since he apparently has an inspection clause, I'd just respond back with what I found, that not having GFCIs, missing ground, etc is a code violation and I want it fixed by a licensed electrician and for the electrician to inspect the rest of the system. That's the safest route.
How to proceed also depends on other factors, like has it been on the market for a long time? A great deal that you don't want to miss or similar condos down the block available, etc.
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On 3/22/2015 9:00 AM, trader_4 wrote:

Evidently I missed something. When was it built? I saw nothing in the original post.
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On Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 10:21:44 AM UTC-4, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

"The condo was built somewhere between 1992 and 1995."
from his second post
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On Sun, 22 Mar 2015 07:57:14 -0700 (PDT), trader_4

It is quite possible that the 87 code was not adopted by then by their AHJ and the applicable code is the one when they pulled the permit, not when they finished the job. Florida is going to be adopting the 2011 code in July of 15. You can bet there will be a crush of permit applications in June.
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On 3/22/2015 10:57 AM, trader_4 wrote:

OK, likely needed then.
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Update: This condo has no garage. It is a one-bedroom, one bathroom, under 700 sq f eet, two story unit. In this complex, most of the condo units are one-story . The few two-story unit do not stay on the market as long. I want this con do, but it's nothing special and if necessary, I can walk away from it with out pain.
Since I did my own home inspection, I requested permission from the seller to inspect more thoroughly the suspect outlet in the kitchen, including put ting in a GFCI outlet. The ground wires were indeed disconnected in this ou tlet, explaining the open ground reading. I checked the voltages; all seeme d sat. Else nothing out of the ordinary turned up on further inspection.
I found that one other outlet in the kitchen was downstream of this outlet, and hence GFCI protected once I installed a new GFCI outlet. Everything te sted fine.
The bathroom outlet is not tied into the kitchen outlet. I installed a new GFCI outlet in the bathroom as well. It tested fine.
The condo was advertised as having a new hot water heater installed in 2014 . On my initial inspection, I found the date on the water heater to be 2003 . The water heater serial number confirmed same. Evidently the condo had be en rented awhile; some water heater maintenance had been done by the proper ty manager; and the seller mistakenly thought that the water heater had bee n replaced. The age of the water heater is too obvious for me to believe th e seller and his realtor were trying to dupe anyone. I have requested a $70 0 concession for all (my time with the GFCIs; purchasing and installing a n ew water heater in the near future; and a non-functioning microwave turntab le). I think this is generous and hope the seller accepts the adjustment.
Two lingering questions: The kitchen has a total of four outlets that are a ccessible for plugging in a coffee maker and similar. The kitchen is small, with an aisle between the sink side and the oven-stove-microwave side. One side (the sink side) has two GFCI protected outlets now. The other side (t he oven-stove-microwave side) has two outlets without GFCI protection. If t he purchase goes through, I will do more assessment. For now, is it fairly common for a kitchen to be divvied up into different GFCI zones? Current co de does say all outlets in a kitchen that are accessible are to be GFCI pro tected, doesn't it?
I bought my GFCI outlets at Harbor Freight, seeing only positive reviews fo r them and wanting to see if they are as good as the ones at Home Depot and Lowe's, for about half the price.
Thank you all for your help.
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It is common to have two or more seperate circuits in the kitchen. That way you can start the microwave and and the toaster or other electrical device on the seperate circuits where they may overload a single circuit.
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feet, two story unit. In this complex, most of the condo units are one-sto ry. The few two-story unit do not stay on the market as long. I want this c ondo, but it's nothing special and if necessary, I can walk away from it wi thout pain.

r to inspect more thoroughly the suspect outlet in the kitchen, including p utting in a GFCI outlet. The ground wires were indeed disconnected in this outlet, explaining the open ground reading. I checked the voltages; all see med sat. Else nothing out of the ordinary turned up on further inspection.

t, and hence GFCI protected once I installed a new GFCI outlet. Everything tested fine.

w GFCI outlet in the bathroom as well. It tested fine.

14. On my initial inspection, I found the date on the water heater to be 20 03. The water heater serial number confirmed same. Evidently the condo had been rented awhile; some water heater maintenance had been done by the prop erty manager; and the seller mistakenly thought that the water heater had b een replaced. The age of the water heater is too obvious for me to believe the seller and his realtor were trying to dupe anyone. I have requested a $ 700 concession for all (my time with the GFCIs; purchasing and installing a new water heater in the near future; and a non-functioning microwave turnt able). I think this is generous and hope the seller accepts the adjustment.

accessible for plugging in a coffee maker and similar. The kitchen is smal l, with an aisle between the sink side and the oven-stove-microwave side. O ne side (the sink side) has two GFCI protected outlets now. The other side (the oven-stove-microwave side) has two outlets without GFCI protection. If the purchase goes through, I will do more assessment. For now, is it fairl y common for a kitchen to be divvied up into different GFCI zones? Current code does say all outlets in a kitchen that are accessible are to be GFCI p rotected, doesn't it?

for them and wanting to see if they are as good as the ones at Home Depot a nd Lowe's, for about half the price.

The other kitchen outlets are probably GFCI protected from the two GFCI out lets already installed. All kitchen countertop outlets require GFCI protect ion and all outlets within six feet of the kitchen sink (including the refr igerator if it is in that zone, and outlets under the sink)
I don't know about the Harbor Freight GFCI's. I have seen some no name GFC I's used by builders. They are good for my business as they don't seem to last a long time.
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On Wednesday, March 25, 2015 at 3:59:06 PM UTC-6, John G wrote:

utlets already installed. All kitchen countertop outlets require GFCI prote ction and all outlets within six feet of the kitchen sink (including the re frigerator if it is in that zone, and outlets under the sink)
I checked, and the two other outlets (on the opposite side of the kitchen) are not GFCI protected at present.
Thank you Ralph and others for confirming that there may be more than one G FCI circuit in a kitchen, for the reasons Ralph gave.
I will do more assessing when I get to the condo in a couple of weeks.

FCI's used by builders. They are good for my business as they don't seem t o last a long time.
I understand. We shall see. :) In the two other homes I have owned, I have yet to see a GFCI outlet fail.
The deal is going forward at present. Just a few more hurdles.
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Oren posted for all of us...

+1 Here today and gone tomorrow...
--
Tekkie *Please post a follow-up*

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On 3/22/2015 8:44 AM, John G wrote:

> Kitchens, garages, outside, and bathrooms all need GFCI protected outlets. I am wondering if the homeowner did their own repairs or changes to the wiring. That caulked outlet is an indication of a hatchet job.

That may or may not be true. Yes, they have been required for a few years now, but millions of homes were built before the code. Before GFCI even existed. We don't know the age of the home so cannot draw a conclusion.
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Alas that may be true. A lot of places had not adopted the 87 until well into the 90s and that was the cycle where GFCIs started showing in the kitchen, I had a very hard time getting them installed in my circa 1968 condo. To start with the kitchen was intermingled with other circuits, one was multiwire and the boxes behind the counter were too small for a GFCI. I ended up using Wiremold extension boxes but it was ugly
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