GFCI's required in a non-updated bathroom? (Two prong type)

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(I'm clueless about electricity... actually it sort of scares me, so this is all Greek to me).
Question - I'm in the process of selling an older(1950's) home. The home inspection was Friday, and I got the buyers' laundry list Saturday afternoon. One of the things they are asking for is GFCI's to be installed in the bathrooms. (This is in Baltimore County, if that makes a difference). I know that I've heard that these are required if a bathroom is renovated, but are they required in one that hasn't been? The only thing I've done in the past 20+ years to the bathroom was to paint, and have a new vanity installed. There is currently a two prong outlet near the sink in the hall bath. I saw a couple of sites online that says these can be GFI'd, but that they won't have an equipment ground (whatever that is).
In the basement bathroom (truly in the basement, not like it's a powder room), the only outlet at all is one that is built into an old medicine cupboard.
I don't want to lose the sale, and am willing to do what's legally requited, but am trying to find out if these are *required* or just desirable. The home inspection report just says "recommend bathroom electrical outlet be replaced with GFCI type outlet". There are a number of other items in the laundry list that to me fall in the "it would be nice" category (repair cracked tiles on bathroom wall), but don't affect habitability of the house, and I'm trying to figure if it's easier to just offer some additional money at settlement and let them have the work done themselves. I guess I'll spend the day on the phone tomorrow getting estimates.
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Not very hard to do at all. Just shut the power off to that room and test it with a radio or lamp if you don't have a tester. The GF recepticals cost more than the usual ones but are no harder to install. I'm guessin' you only have one receptical per bath room, most do. You can DIY easily.
Not sure about the code thing. (guessin' again) If there isn't GFI, there are probably other important things that aren't code either.
They may want a certified electrician to do it as well. So, my earlier suggestion may not work. But, again, they're easy to do..
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wrote:

When your house was built one can only assume it was built to the code in effect at that time. With that said, your current wiring is grandfathered to that configuration if you do no remodeling.
Updating to GFCI outlets is not required. It may be desired by the potential buyer but it isn't required. If that is all that stands in the way of the sale...
Gordon Shumway
What color do Smurfs become when they hold their breath?
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Lee B wrote:

You're not required to do anything here.
If the switchbox is big enough, you should replace the 2-prong outlet in the hall bathroom with a GFCI outlet. There will be a tiny sticker in the box that says "NO EQUIPMENT GROUND" and you should apply that sticker to the cover plate. All this will cost you about $8 total and you can do it yourself if you are handy at all.
Let the buyers take care of the basement bath themselves; they will probably want to pick a different medicine cabinet anyway.
Bob
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These days it's hard to determine "what's required", as your locality pretty much can require anything they want. Typically, when a house is built, a certificate of occupancy is issued, and grandfathered unless additional renovation or expansion to the building is done. In your case, you may not have grounded wiring, so I would leave any "upgrades" to the new owners. As far as electrical wiring and National electric code goes, there is not a stitch of wiring in your house that would comply with current standards, so why stop at GFCI outlets
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I agree with RBM. There is *alot* of work needed to bring this house up to safe standard, and alot more to bring it up to code. I suggest offering the buyer some money in lieu of fixing these few electrical issues. They'll probably jump at it since they were going to have it fixed up even more anyway. It would cost an you about $100 (+/-) to have an electrician come out and do the basic changes, about $70 for labor and the rest in parts.
Good luck,
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teabird wrote:

I agree with this too, mostly, but replacing that one 2-prong outlet buys a lot of safety for about $7 or $8; it's a nice gesture.
I wouldn't give them any money for fixing the electrical (unless you are desperate to sell.) The old electrical system is already assumed in your asking price. If they want a new house, they should buy a new house and expect to pay accordingly.
Bob
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I wouldn't have a problem with installing a few GFCI outlets if the wiring is grounded. If it's not, and you stick labels on the new outlets stating this, as is required, you may inadvertently cause alarm in the buyer or their house inspector, who apparently didn't notice or mention anything about ungrounded wiring. My position would be that if the wiring and devices were up to current code, I'd want more for the house. The price is what it is, because it's reflecting the current state of the building.
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RBM wrote: ...

Nothing is required legally almost certainly.
Virtually all that is required in any jurisdiction will be the disclosure form; it's up to the buyer to decide whether the condition of the house is what they're willing to accept or not contingent on offer/counter-offer.
Asking for items on an inspection report to be fixed is pretty common; I'd be like somebody else here and do the one or two GFCI's as they're essentially no-cost, trivial items.
You can, of course, make the counter-offer of some $$ in lieu, but this is so trivial I'd not bother.
Folks here seem to get terribly uptight over 2-wire wiring, etc., but the fact is, it's served quite adequately for 100 years or so and problems associated w/ lack of the third ground wire have been so minimal as to be news when they did happen. Not that newer Code isn't better in many ways, but there's no need to get particularly worked up over older house wiring that is in good shape--the house hasn't burned down yet and you haven't been electrocuted. It ain't likely either will happen any time soon, either. :)
Ask your realtor or legal counsel of any specific requirements or call the local jurisdiction building inspection department and ask them.
--
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Lee B wrote:

FWIW, so far no-one seems to have mentioned this but the two prongs doesn't necessarily mean that the ground wire is missing....a lot of older bathrooms had a two pronged razor outlet installed which used a step-down transformer to lower the line voltage to a lower value (can't recall the exact amount off hand). The cover plates for these units were quite a bit larger than regular outlet cover plates....also curling irons plugged into these outlets didn't work due to the reduced voltage.
This may or may not apply in your case but you should be able to easily check to see if there is proper grounding to the box.
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If the existing wiring is BX theres a good chance its already grounded.
GFCIs are a excellent safety device, i would have them installed as a goodwill gesture
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On Sun, 1 Nov 2009 17:53:54 -0800 (PST), " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"

Although it may not be a code requirement, it may be a requirement of the bank, or the potential insurance company. I've seen insurance companies that wouldn't insure a house because of a little mildew on the siding. No insurance=no mortgage
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propman wrote:

Follow-up - the electrician put in the GFCI last week for $110. (Yeah I know, the labor was $95 but hey it's not something I can do). Invoice reads "changed existing outlet to GFI and hooked up ground". So maybe it was there all along. BTW, no worry about the home inspector; the buyer put this on their laundry list as a result of the completed inspection. And the inspector just put on there "recommend installing GFCI". The buyer is a young woman coming from an apartment, so is probably used to a GFCI outlet being the norm. Oh well, the things she asked for (vs things she could have) cost less than what the mortgage payments would be until next spring, which is when I'd realistically expect another offer. Thanks for the replies.
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re :(Yeah I know, the labor was $95 but hey it's not something I can do)
Why not?
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wrote:

OMG!
Here's a little secret: If you learn how to do stuff like this for yourself, you'll save so much money it's as if you got a HUGE raise at work.
Next time you are about to hire someone to do something that you don't think you can do yourself, try this... Go to google.com and search for help. If you had searched for: "replacing an outlet", you would have found many DIY websites with detailed instructions, diagrams and photos of how to replace an outlet. It is extremely easy to do.
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snipped-for-privacy@dog.com wrote:

The key might be "and hooked up ground." That's not always easy to do with old wiring (he may have needed to run a ground wire back to the fusebox.) Also the old box may have been too small or too full of wires for a GFCI device to fit. (or maybe it was a simple 5 minute job)
My problem is I know I can do anything myself (eventually) and I underestimate all the complications I'll run into :-)
Bob
Bob
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wrote:

None of the obstacles you mention involve any great skill to overcome. At $95 labor including the house call, you can be pretty sure it was a very simple and quick job.
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Damn, you're a cheapskate.
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AZ Nomad wrote:

You haven't seen the rest of the laundry list...
Seriously when I posted the question, I had no idea if having a GFIC installed was a big deal or not. A relative had just told me that since it was a two hole plug, the electrician would have to run additional wiring from the basement that could cost thousands. If it really is as seemingly straightforward as it's been made to sound, I don't mind paying for that.
What amazes me is that this is the second home inspection in the last year, after the prev sale fell through. And both inspectors found entirely different things to complain about. The first one never mentioned GFCIs, but came up with things like the length of some exhaust pipe on the water heater. This one came up with the GFCIs but not the plumbing, plus he zeroed in on settlement cracks on the back porch that the first one didn't mention as a problem. That's why I was having problems evaluating what's really necessary. Versus "oh let's see if we can get her to upgrade this while we're at it".
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Your relative is incorrect....are they a contractor, electrician, engineer or a DIY's that knows anything? GFI's can be installed without a ground, they come with stickers "no equipment ground"
Inspectors justify their fee & cover their butts by finding "defects"....makes the buyer think they're getting their money;s worth.
Be cooperative, preserve the sale but dont give away the farm. Discuss the list with your realtor & a person knowledgeable as to the cost of each item ...have your realtor make the list go away.
cheers Bob
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