History of GFI Receptacles

My house was built in 1983. I would like to check out the GFI outlets that were supposed to be installed at that time.
Where can I find a history of the Code pertaining to GFIs, as amended over the last 25 years?
Thanks
Walter The Happy Iconoclast www.rationality.net
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I first heard of GFI devices in 1974 and probably around a few years before. Try the NEC codes or IEEE articles around 74 or before.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
There is a local governmental agency which is responsible for code enforcement where you live. For me, that is my city's engineering department. They will have one or more people who can answer your questions. I'm certain that you will expedite the process by telling them what you are attempting to accomplish. If you start off by explaining what your concerns are about the GFCI outlets in your home, then the zoning folks may be able to help your more quickly.
By the way, keep in mind that learning the history of zoning regulations and the history of the NEC are not going give you a 100% accurate guide to how your house was/is wired. Builders miswire homes and subsequent homeowners wire/rewire homes incorrectly.
When your home was built, the NEC required GFCI outlets on outdoor applications, swimming pools, spas, hottubs, bathrooms and garages. A few years later kitchens and (unfinished) basements were added to the list. Personally, I think that GFCIs are so inexpensive now that it makes sense to have them at every outlet.
Once again, if you can live with unsolicited advise, I'd say don't worry about the electrical zoning history for your house and focus on your specific concerns about your GFCI outlets. The zoning folks can advise you on what is required and what is recommended now. An electrician or a handy homeowner can check to insure that existing GFCI outlets are acceptable and he can perform any upgrades that may be necessary.
In my opinion, the only difficult part is determining whether any of your GFCIs are protecting outlets downstream. This is very important information to have in order to protect your sanity when a GFCI trips mysteriously.
Good luck, Gideon
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

1990 code addresses this. I wouldn't have GFCI anywhere except where code instucts it to be present. The authors of the code are well-qualified to direct this, and have decades of experience by now, on this subject. They've heard it all.

and his contractors. That's one way to get a house re-wired, without picking up any tools, except a pen and paper.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
John B wrote I wouldn't have GFCI anywhere except where code instucts it to be present. The authors of the code are well-qualified to direct this, and have decades of experience by now, on this subject. They've heard it all.
=================== John,
The authors of the code are continually revising the code. That is to say, they are continually replacing a previous less-than-perfect version of their code with a better version. Do we wire our homes based upon the NEC from 1986 which said that GFCIs weren't necessary in kitchens? I'm certain that there were do-it-yourself types back in 1986 saying, "the authors of the code are well-qualified to direct this .... I don't need to be wasting money on GFCIs in my kitchen."
Do we endorse using ground as a neutral? I seem to recall this being ok in some situations under the NEC not that long ago. It took the NEC 26 years after the invention of the GFCI to require the device for kitchen outlets. It took 32 years to require them near wet bars. This alone tells us that there are times we we should use our intellect to decide if we want to exceed the NEC requirements.
It is inevitable that the NEC will require GFCIs throughout the home within the next 20 years or so. Some outlets are more dangerous than others, but they are all capable of ground fault injury. Obviously the NEC will continue to exclude certain dedicated branch circuits on which nuisance faults would be unacceptable due to the "mission critical" nature of the appliances on those dedicated lines.
As the demand for GFCIs goes up, production will increase and we will see the inevitable economics of scale, with prices down around $3 or so each. Even today you can purchase reliable, UL listed GFCIs for $5 or less. At that price I can upgrade my entire house for below $150, which is about 0.05% of the market value of my house. I spend many times more than that making my lawn look pretty and green each summer.
FYI - I purchased 10 GFCIs on sale this weekend at $4.49 each. They are well constructed, they grip the plug well, they make good electrical contact with the prongs on the plug, they test out well and they are UL listed (obviously).
I see little problem installing GFCIs on all of the recepticles in my house. Of course, I will skip the dedicated circuits on which the cost of a nuisance fault would outway the risk of a non-GFCI circuit. In my home, this includes the dedicated ceiling outlet for my furnace, the outlet for my freezer, the outlets for my refrigerators, the ceiling outlet for the garage door opener and one outlet in my home office for my computers. The computers are all on UPS systems, but I often leave the PCs unattended for many hours at a time and the UPS systems only give me about a half hour.
My only reservation for other GFCI applications in my home is the compact fluorescent lamps that I've got on some circuits. Obviously I'll check them for nuisance tripping before installing GFCIs on those particular outlets.
Gideon
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for your extensive and thoughtful response. Infrastructures do tend to change slowly. Do flurorescent light fixtures tend to have ground faults? Do the ballast transformers short to the can? Or is their propensity to this common to all transfomers, motors, etc.? I suppose that a "hot" (floating) fluorescent fixture, mounted in the high ceiling of an industrial warehouse would threaten nobody except the electrician who might stumble into working on it. While this certainly is a significant threat, it's not as bad as a threat to the general, unwitting public. If compact fluorescent lamps can turn an ordinary two-wire desk lamp into a "hot tamale," then this indeed calls for GFCI electrification all around the house. It also raises a call for an investigation by UL, CSI, TV, etc. Just as hairdryers seem to have their own GFCI protections, then perhaps fluorescent desk lamps should, too. I've seen fluorescent replacement fixtures for light bulbs, but I haven't bought one yet. If such a fixture screws into an ordinary light bulb socket, then there's no way it could make the whole lamp body hot. But if the little box at the base of the fluorescent fixture should be hot, and somebody touches it, then a GFCI could detect even a slight ground fault and interrupt the circuit.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Gideon wrote:

You're kidding, right? There's a 3-4x difference in cost. That's not trivial.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

More like a 20x difference ($7.99 for a GFCI vs. 39 cents for a standard duplex receptacle.)
Of course, if you wire it properly, you need only one GFCI per *circuit*, not one per receptacle.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Roger Shoaf wrote If you or someone was injured and you think someone else is responsible for an omission 25 years ago be prepared to share the responsibility for doing nothing to fix the problem in the interim.
====================================== How un-American: Holding somebody responsible for their own mistakes. Are you trying to put lawyers out of business?
:)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
John,
I may have not been clear in what I was saying. I don't consider fluorescent fixtures to be unsafe. I'm just concerned about so-called nuisance tripping.
There are some devices which are completely safe, but their electronics can confuse a GFCI. Devices such as large appliances and fluorescent light fixtures may have no ground fault problems but they can still confuse a GFCI and cause it to trip when really not necessary.
There is a second category of devices which can cause nuisance tripping. This would apply to devices which have a low level of ground fault leakage, but that ground fault is not generally considered to be a safety issue. For example, a ceiling fan in a bathroom can collect dust which can become damp when it is exhausting moist air. Some leakage can occur, but it is unlikely to be a significant danger.
Once again, fluorescent lights are complete safe, but they could possibly confuse a GFCI. I will do some benchmarks to determine how likely they are to cause such confusion before I put them on a GFCI circuit.
If I get a chance, I'll post more explanation soon.
Gideon
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Finding the just NEC code changes will not necessarily tell you if GFCI's were 'supposed' to be installed at that time. Many cities or local areas do not keep up with the newest codes and can lag behind by several years. One city where I lived was still using '96 code rules in '00'. The NEC puts out new code every 3 years. You might try a public library to find code books and your city/county office for information on when/what codes were adopted.
Kevin
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Excellent point. Local inspectors have probably been on the job for decades, and can tell the history best.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
John B Wrote:

On the other hand, if the case does involve a lawsuit, the inspector or city themselves can be implicated. Wouldn't expect much help there.
The good news is there are things like statute of limitations and wha 'should' have been done in 1993 is likely well beyond any statute o limitation for liability.
That may not be good news for the owner
-- manhattan4 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- manhattan42's Profile: http://homerepairforums.org/forums/member.php?userid=4 View this thread: http://homerepairforums.org/forums/showthread.php?tv02 This post was submitted via http://www.HomeRepairForums.or
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

A couple of points. First this is your house. If you do not have GFIC outlets where they should be, install them. If you have GFIC outlets and you are not sure if they work, test them. If they fail the test, fix them.

If you or someone was injured and you think someone else is responsible for an omission 25 years ago be prepared to share the responsibility for doing nothing to fix the problem in the interim.
--

Roger Shoaf

About the time I had mastered getting the toothpaste back in the tube, then
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.