Home Inspection Beyond the Breaker Box and with Power On

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On Friday, August 29, 2014 2:56:24 PM UTC-6, trader_4 wrote:
snip for brevity

arage but replaced it. Should I put in a new GFCI outlet in the garage. The n will I have assurance of GFCI protection in all three outlets? 15 amp or 20 amp outlet?

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Do you mean they were dumb to give up GFCI protection on the bathrooms and garage outlet? Or they were dumb to do so for some other reason. At this po int, I think the fact that my 2003-ish home inspector (when I bought the ho me) said nothing on this is a bit discouraging. It's the old but thoroughly lethal electric razor or hair dryer in the bathtub death trick (and simila r, and really not funny) we're trying to avoid with bathroom GFCIs in parti cular, right? I know this because my dad earlier today reviewed just such a case with a teenage girl where I grew up decades ago.

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Thank you for your rapid and informed response. Per your commentary, I open ed the panel breaker in question, disconnected the corresponding garage rec eptacle (making sure no wires touched when done), and then shut the panel b reaker. I had power at neither of the bathrooms' receptacles. This tells me the garage receptacle is upstream of the bathrooms' receptacles. Any objec tions to this approach?
The micrometer-ed the wire at the garage receptacle and found it to be 14 g age, so per your note (double checked with the net), I need a 15 amp GFCI r eceptacle, and I am good to go. I will probably just do it and then if the buyer wants an electrician inspection of same, I will call the guy I called before.
Much obliged, trader_4.
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On Friday, August 29, 2014 5:58:25 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

garage but replaced it. Should I put in a new GFCI outlet in the garage. T hen will I have assurance of GFCI protection in all three outlets? 15 amp o r 20 amp outlet?

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Yes, if they did in fact replace the GFCI that was protecting everything with a standard receptacle. It's also a code violation.
Or they were dumb to do so for some other reason. At this point, I think th e fact that my 2003-ish home inspector (when I bought the home) said nothin g on this is a bit discouraging. It's the old but thoroughly lethal electri c razor or hair dryer in the bathtub death trick (and similar, and really n ot funny) we're trying to avoid with bathroom GFCIs in particular, right? I know this because my dad earlier today reviewed just such a case with a te enage girl where I grew up decades ago.

A lot of the home inspectors out there aren't that great. Speaking of which, I guess you don't know if the home inspector who flagged this used a tester on the outlets in question? Usually they all have at least one of those and if he doubted the outlets were GFCI, the tester would give the answer.

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ened the panel breaker in question, disconnected the corresponding garage r eceptacle (making sure no wires touched when done), and then shut the panel breaker. I had power at neither of the bathrooms' receptacles. This tells me the garage receptacle is upstream of the bathrooms' receptacles. Any obj ections to this approach?

Sounds logical.

gage, so per your note (double checked with the net), I need a 15 amp GFCI receptacle, and I am good to go. I will probably just do it and then if th e buyer wants an electrician inspection of same, I will call the guy I call ed before.

No problemo. BTW, how did the rest of the inspection go? If this is the worst of your worries, you're in good shape!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

The electrical code does not require GFCI receptacles in bathrooms. It requires that receptacles in bathrooms be protected by a GFCI, which can be located anywhere.

Ground-fault protection for bathroom receptacles is not merely "recommended". It is *required*. However, there is no requirement that the ground fault protective device be located in the bathroom.

That's fine, if either (a) the breaker is a GFCI breaker, or (b) the garage outlet is a GFCI outlet *and* it's wired to provide downstream protection.
If neither (a) nor (b) is true, then you don't have GFCI protection despite what the label says.

No, of course not. They are not GFCI receptacles.

Then it's not a GFCI breaker.

That's not a GFCI outlet.

A GFCI breaker provides ground-fault protections to all receptacles on that circuit. A GFCI receptacle can be -- but is not necessarily -- wired to provide GFCI protection to all receptacles "downstream" from itself.
Any receptacle protected in either of these manners will have full ground fault protection, but of course the test and reset buttons exist only at the GFCI protective device itself.

No. GFCI breakers are *very* obvious.

Yes, absolutely. From what you have written so far, it sounds very much like you do *not* have GFCI protection. IMHO, you should do this right away.

I agree on all three counts.

Depends on whether it's a 15A or 20A circuit.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

I'd still get a tester. It's quite possible -- maybe even likely -- that you have an outdoor outlet somewhere that has a GFCI receptacle which is protecting the garage and the bathrooms.
Get the tester. Plug it into one of the bathroom outlets. The lights on the tester should come on. Hit the button. If the lights go off, you have GFCI protection somewhere. If they stay on, you don't.
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On Friday, August 29, 2014 5:57:00 PM UTC-6, Doug Miller wrote:

he tester should come on.

If they stay on, you don't.
Today I found one at Harbor Freight that cost me $5.13 after applying the 2 0% off coupon. See http://www.harborfreight.com/electrical-receptacle-teste r-with-gfci-diagnosis-32907.html. This morning I put three new GCFI outlets in the garage, then tested all outlets in the house, inside and out. All w orks perfectly now and per the discussion here. Put the "GFCI protected" la bels on the applicable outlets, and ready for re-inspection and/or report t o the buyer as needed. That GFCI tester is too easy and inexpensive. I can see why folks are saying a home inspector ought to have one.
Thanks to all. I will as always try to pass on the good will from folks her e to someone else in need.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Do you NOT get it that the gfci in the panel gives protection to ALL the outlets that went dead when you turned it off ? There is NO NEED to add a gfci outlet , the entire circuit is protected already . I have a single 20 amp gfci breaker in my panel that will <when the house is finished> protect both bathrooms . When I build the kitchen there will be another 20A gfci in the panel that will power 2 or 3 outlets , the ones within 4' of the sink . Oh , and my in-panel gfci has a test button that trips it , resets just like a regular breaker .
--
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On Friday, August 29, 2014 8:13:39 PM UTC-4, Terry Coombs wrote:

I was confused on this at first too. But I went back and read it again. He isn't saying he has a GFCI breaker. He's saying it's just a regular breaker with a label that says GFI-garage. That's why he was asking if it was possible to have a GFCI breaker and for it to not be obviously identifiable as such.
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trader_4 wrote:

Ah , I thought he meant that the breaker was a gfci . If it's not , he needs to determine for sure that the garage is first in the string and install one there . Or install an in-panel gfci , then it won't matter which one is first .
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On Friday, August 29, 2014 7:10:36 PM UTC-6, Terry Coombs wrote:

Hi Terry, Trader_4 has it straight. To review: The breaker at issue here an d in the panel has nothing that distinguishes it from the dozen or so other breakers in the panel, so I conclude this breaker is not GFCI. The taped l abel on the side of the breaker refers to the one outlet in the garage that should be GFCI (and soon will be). Thank you for checking in. All this dis cussion has clarified much in short order. At my gym tonight, I also bumped into an electrician in my neighborhood who happens to have wired many of t he houses here some 20 years ago. He confirmed that there is supposed to be a GFCI outlet in the garage that also protects the bathrooms and the outdo or outlets, like all here have been saying.
Doug, none of the outdoor outlets are GFCI outlets. They also all tie into the aforementioned breaker. So the outdoor outlets also lacked GFCI protect ion all these years. Thanks for the input on buying a GFCI tester. I am con sidering buying one for $15 at Sears.
trader_4: The inspector did not use a GFCI tester. It was the realtor who q uestioned the setup. All the inspector said is that the GFCI was recommende d for bathrooms, the garage, and the exterior. I agree today's finding is s ignificant and give the realtor a lot of credit for asking the original que stion. I know it's not totally unsafe, but of course I agree it's unaccepta ble to turn the house over without GFCI protected bathrooms. I am also repl acing the two other outlets (not fed by the aforementioned panel breaker bu t by two other breakers) in the garage currently lacking GFCI with GFCI one s.
I should have known better last year, when the first evidence that some wir ing in the garage had been added, based on the inspection last year.

ich

Terry, correct, the one in the garage is first in the string of outlets tha t includes the two bathrooms and also, per discussion here, with my electri cian neighbor and my further checking, the three outlets mounted on the out side of the house (with the special weather resistant covers).
Trader_4, the inspector, buyer and buyer's realtor seemed pleased with all, but I count on nothing until I have it in writing. Besides, the buyer's re altor was breathing down the inspector's neck and my neck, so the inspector might have quickly reached the point that he just wanted out of there and would say anything to get back to his report picture taking and short comme nts. I felt bad for the inspector and the buyer. I know I would need to sta y focused if I had the inspector's job. Else in writing I have that the len der has approved the buyer's "credit" and is waiting only on the inspection results.
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On Friday, August 29, 2014 10:23:06 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

and in the panel has nothing that distinguishes it from the dozen or so oth er breakers in the panel, so I conclude this breaker is not GFCI. The taped label on the side of the breaker refers to the one outlet in the garage th at should be GFCI (and soon will be). Thank you for checking in. All this d iscussion has clarified much in short order. At my gym tonight, I also bump ed into an electrician in my neighborhood who happens to have wired many of the houses here some 20 years ago. He confirmed that there is supposed to be a GFCI outlet in the garage that also protects the bathrooms and the out door outlets, like all here have been saying.

o the aforementioned breaker. So the outdoor outlets also lacked GFCI prote ction all these years. Thanks for the input on buying a GFCI tester. I am c onsidering buying one for $15 at Sears.

questioned the setup.
Well, I guess that tells you something about the qualifications of the inspector. Any decent inspector, concerned about whether bathroom receptac les have GFCI, would just use his tester. I guess a $15 tester is too much for him.
All the inspector said is that the GFCI was recommended for bathrooms, the garage, and the exterior.
As Doug pointed out, it was also code when the house was built, which was the 90s correct?
I agree today's finding is significant and give the realtor a lot of credit for asking the original question. I know it's not totally unsafe, but of c ourse I agree it's unacceptable to turn the house over without GFCI protect ed bathrooms. I am also replacing the two other outlets (not fed by the afo rementioned panel breaker but by two other breakers) in the garage currentl y lacking GFCI with GFCI ones.

It's kind of unusual for a typical garage to have 3 outlets all fed by 3 separate breakers, but you're right, adding those GFCIs is what's required.

iring in the garage had been added, based on the inspection last year.

Yes, I looked back in the thread and saw that. Looks like it was amature hour.


which

hat includes the two bathrooms and also, per discussion here, with my elect rician neighbor and my further checking, the three outlets mounted on the o utside of the house (with the special weather resistant covers).

l, but I count on nothing until I have it in writing.
That's good to hear. So the deal is going well.
Besides, the buyer's realtor was breathing down the inspector's neck and my neck, so the inspector might have quickly reached the point that he just w anted out of there and would say anything to get back to his report picture taking and short comments.
So the buyer's incompetent realtor actually helped you by screwing with the inspector.
I felt bad for the inspector and the buyer. I know I would need to stay fo cused if I had the inspector's job. Else in writing I have that the lender has approved the buyer's "credit" and is waiting only on the inspection res ults.
I wouldn't feel too bad for an inspector who can't test a bath GFCI. Sounds like he and the seller's incompetent realtor deserve each other.
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On Saturday, August 30, 2014 5:40:47 AM UTC-6, trader_4 wrote:

ho questioned the setup.

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Yes, though I wonder whether it is either company, state, or current licens ure policy to discourage/disallow home inspectors from getting into too muc h detail regarding the wiring. They're not electricians, after all. OTOH, i t does seem like baloney, because in what seems my relatively simple case w here a DIY-er added outlets to the garage and took out a GFCI outlet critic al to several 'likely subject to moisture' circuits, the typical lay-buyer would need a licensed electrician to really study everything and get some a ssurance all was well GFCI-wise and in all ways. It seems to me a home insp ection should really be looking for big ticket safety issues. Electrical pr oblems have to be a leading cause of deaths, fires etc. in a house, maybe s econd to falling off ladders when it comes to injuries.
At this point if and when I buy another house or condominium, and not needi ng to take a loan for same, I think I will forego a house inspection. It se ems a farce for anyone with years of experience owning a home and having so me electrical background. Or knowing to make inquiries on the net and of fr iends. :-) If there are problems, then buyer and seller can call in a licen sed specialist to resolve the situation.

the garage, and the exterior.

Yes, the house was built in the mid-1990s. After the buyer's realtor questi oned the lack of GFCI outlets in the bathroom point, the Inspector pointed out what Doug and others pointed out. What the inspector was ignorant of wa s the bathrooms being GFCI protected via a GFCI garage outlet upstream of t he bathrooms' outlets.

it for asking the original question. I know it's not totally unsafe, but of course I agree it's unacceptable to turn the house over without GFCI prote cted bathrooms. I am also replacing the two other outlets (not fed by the a forementioned panel breaker but by two other breakers) in the garage curren tly lacking GFCI with GFCI ones.

Thanks for the reinforcement.
Micky, trader_4 has things straight here, I think with all others.

wiring in the garage had been added, based on the inspection last year.

Yes, including my not catching this until yesterday upon the realtor's ques tioning and the inspector saying the baths should be GFCI protected (or sim ilar wording). The only thing last year's report stated on this entire mat ter was that "GFCI outlets are recommended for installation at exterior, ga rage, bath rooms outlets [sic]." Anyone saying what was found yesterday was a code violation and it should have been noted as an unacceptable deficie ncy: I agree. What this second inspection report says will be interesting. It is due in a few days.

all, but I count on nothing until I have it in writing.

On paper, per what the buyer and I have signed to resuscitate the deal, and the inspections and loan approval that have gone forward, I would say it i s going well. There is tenseness between the realtors and me. My realtor an d I are already in the habit of double-checking and text-alerting that we e ach received any documents sent. Yesterday the buyer's realtor started tryi ng this baloney double talk yesterday, and he and I had some words. He look ed surprised that I would call him out for not scheduling the inspection pe riod, resulting in a significant delay and putting the deal in peril. The b uyer's realtor started talking about how he wanted a happy buyer and seller and how many deals he had done. I gave him a look and off-the-cuff said, " You want your sales commission as quickly as possible." The buyer laughed. I think the buyer's pretty savvy and just wants the house (assuming no majo r inspection problems). The inspector walked away, perhaps sensing the spar ks. I have had it with this realtor double talk. I think realtors today are formally trained in used car sales-speak. I am not taking being pushed aro und by either realtor at this point. If the deal falls through, so be it. B ut I think all of us have enough invested that it will go through, assuming the loan is approved.

my neck, so the inspector might have quickly reached the point that he just wanted out of there and would say anything to get back to his report pictu re taking and short comments.

I think the inspector was a bit aggravated and more likely to take it out o n me. My own realtor had to cancel his presence at the last minute, whence I agreed to be there, let the inspector in, and then absent myself. Then th e buyer and the buyer's realtor show up, un-announced. All were 15 minutes late. No big deal but it miffed me a bit. My realtor said the buyer had mad e no request to be present but of course none of us had a problem with thei r wanting to be there. My realtor told me the inspection was mostly a "re-i nspection" for home warranty purposes and so should only take a half an hou r or so. I was hanging out in the backyard, weeding, for the first hour. Wh en I heard all the laughter and the buyer's realtor's voice leading the cha tter, and not happy with the delay and joking on my time and when I needed a focused inspector, I said 'enough,' and started shadowing the group. With hindsight I am thinking I should have pulled the buyer's realtor aside and told him that I felt the inspector needed to stay focused, and please only ask technical questions without interrupting the inspector otherwise.
Still, and again, I credit the buyer's realtor for calling out the GFCI sit uation. Like much, it's not black-and-white. Maybe he earned his commission with just this one, significant observation. I was so disgusted about how all was proceeding that I responded to the buyer's realtor, re the GFCI que ry, with a sarcastic "oh well." Obviously I had not dug into the GFCI situa tion at this point.

focused if I had the inspector's job. Else in writing I have that the lende r has approved the buyer's "credit" and is waiting only on the inspection r esults.

They did make a good match, overall.
Yesterday I asked me realtor to forward a note to the buyer (via the buyer' s realtor) that I would be remedying the bathroom/exterior/garage GFCI situ ation. I do not care what the report says or whether the buyer was going to object or not. I am not turning over the house with what I personally know now is a code violation. It's costing me under $40 for parts and a few hou rs of labor. If the buyer says he wants a licensed electrician to check all , I do not blame him. The buyer does not know electricity from plumbing nor me from Adam.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote in

This is unnecessary expense and effort. *One* GFCI receptacle in the garage is sufficient to provide GFCI protection for the entire circuit. You do *not* need to have GFCI receptacles in the bathrooms if there is one in the garage, wired to provide downstream protection. The installation instructions that accompany the GFCI receptacle will show clearly how to do that.
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On Friday, August 29, 2014 10:53:10 PM UTC-4, Doug Miller wrote:

He actually said that the two other receptacles in the garage are on two separate breakers, so he does need two GFCI for those, plus one for the garage outlet that also feeds the bath and outdoors. Three total.
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On Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:19:47 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Is this a nicely printed label? IF so maybe it was there before the breaker was replaced, and he reused it. For some reason, when my house was less than 8 years old, the GFI breaker started tripping every couple months for no reason. After I was convinced it was for no reason, I replaced it and it hasn't tripped more than twice in 27 years. I think each time I knew the reason.

That's the setup I have in my house built in 1979. I'm not positive they had GFI receptacles then, maybe only breakers????
My breaker controls the recept. in 2 bathrooms and a powder room, on the counter near the kitchen sink, and outside on the "patio". I suppose it controls the outlet next to the laundry sink, into which is plugged the clothes washer, but I've probably always reset the breaker long before I wanted to wwash clothes.

But my breaker certainly doesn't look the same. A) it has a test button. It doesn't protrude and it's not very noticeable (same width and color as the breaker face) but if you push it you can see the handle of the breaker move to OFF. Then to reset, you have to move the handle back even farther (to reset, or something like that. But perhaps the words have come off for some reason) and then back to ON,
The outlet in the garage looks like what's shown here: >http://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-Decora-15-Amp-Tamper-Resistant-Duplex-Outlet-10-Pack-White-M22-T5325-WMP/100684055.

No, but a regular outlet or a string of them can receive current from a GFI breaker, and that is just as safe.

No, I don't think so. Go to the hardeware store or Home Depot and look at what they sell. OTOH, it depends on how observant you are. They must be different but you might not notice.

My best guess is that he had a GFI breaker in the fuse box but replaced it with something that isn't GFI.

It depends on which is the most upstream breaker.

Please r ead my reply to your second post, which also takes into consideration your third post.

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On Friday, August 29, 2014 11:37:33 PM UTC-4, micky wrote:

It's there so folks will see it and know that there is a GFCI in the garage. The scenario is Joe finds that some receptacle, lights, whatever aren't working. First thing Joe does is think it's the breaker. Upon looking, he sees the label, so now he knows if it involves that circuit, the other possible problem is the GFCI in the garage.
For some reason, when my house

That's a lot of loads for one circuit. Code today requires the laundry room have it's own circuit. Not sure the history there, but I don't think it's been code to have all that on one circuit for a very long time.

That's because you have a GFCI breaker, Honda doesn't.
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On 8/29/2014 10:37 PM, micky wrote:

Our home was built in 1974. 200amp breaker panel and it does have a GFCI breaker. That breaker is a "double wide" so from what I've picked up from the OP's description, it sounds as if the current/previous homeowner added a circuit or two and may have needed the space in the panel. There goes the double wide GFCI and in its place are now two regular breakers.
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On Fri, 29 Aug 2014 14:58:25 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

AIUI, the outlet has to be far enough away from the tub that the cord that comes with hair dryers and razors won't reach the tub.

Huh?

What about her? She died?

You disconnected the garage at the breaker? Is there more than one wire connected to the same breaker? How did you know which was for the gararge?

You mean turned off that particular breaker?

And what about the garage?

Yes, I object, and I don't know why everyone else did. I don't see how that test told you anything. If all three go to the same breaker and all three are disconnected when you did this test, either by disconnecting the wire or by turning off the breaker, how do you learn anything from that? I certainly don't see how you conclude which outlet is upstream and which downstream.

I don't think so. Do you have GFI protection in the bathrooms? At the kitchen sink? At the outdoor recept?

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micky wrote: A lot of drivel .
How about you crawl back under your rock and let the humans handle this ?
--
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On Fri, 29 Aug 2014 19:23:06 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I don't believe the label means that the breaker at some other location is GFCI. I don't believe it ever meant that.

Well that's good, unless he is confusing your house with other houses in the last 20 years.
The electrician who did my house also lived in my n'hood for at least a decade. (You coudl tell his house by the lights along the sidewalk, and by the range hood vent that came out above the sliding glass door in the front of the kitchen. Everyone else just had a fan that drew the air through the filter and then straight back into the kitchen. But he also made two mistakes in my house. In the entry hall, there are 2 3-way switches that he or his employee wired wrong so one switch didn't work unless the other switch was in the right position. And at the top of the basement stairs, he put the basement switch to the left and the upstairs switch to the right, which with the stairs where they were was backwards.
I don't know why I thought he would think this funny (like I did) if I told him, but like an idiot I told him and he was annoyed.

What breaker? The one you turned off in the previous post? If so, that's another reason I think it should be GFI.

People had electricity for 100 years before they invented GFI's and only a (comparitively?)few people got killed because of that. (I wonder what the number really is) Because usually nothing goes wrong, and in many cases it takes two things to go wrong at once. But as we get more prosperous, we have less tolerance for such deaths. Seat belts, air bags, separate front and rear brakes, ABS.

It won't kill you, not even financially, to replace more outlets than need be, but the way to tell which is the upstream recep is either to believe the electrician, or to partially believe him and turn off the breaker, take the one he says is the most upstream (the garage) take that out and disconnect the outgoing hot wire from it, then turn the breaker on again. If the garage outlet is dead, you disconnected the wrong wire, the incoming hot wire. But if it's not dead, go to all the other outlets and see if they are dead. If they are dead, the garage outlet is indeed the most upstream one and a gfi outlet there will protect every outlet that went dead when you disconnected that one wire.
You can plug lamps or radios into the outlets to make testing go quickly.
If otoh, some or all them are not dead after you disconnect that wire, I guess you have to do the same test at other recepts until you find the right one. What a pain.

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On Saturday, August 30, 2014 12:03:08 AM UTC-4, micky wrote:

I don't think so either, because there is no "other breaker". What the "GFCI - garage" label means is that there is a GFCI located in the garage that is part of that circuit. It's there so that if the lights go out and you go investigating, you'll see the label in the panel and know that there is a GFCI on that circuit that could be the reason for the lights going out.

to the aforementioned breaker

He explained that the 2 baths, one garage outlet, and outside outlets are all on that one breaker. There is no reason it has to be GFCI. Around here, typically baths, garage, outside are protected by using a GFCI outlet in the stream. It's usually a lot easier to push the reset on a GFCI that you see all the time, eg in the bath. He's done that and has a GFCI in the garage protecting all the stuff on that list.

He says that he's already been there and done that. You have him saying it as part of your post, below:

that includes the two bathrooms and also, per discussion here, with my elec trician neighbor and my further checking, the three outlets mounted on the outside of the house (with the special weather resistant covers).

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