Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

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npautler
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Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by npautler » Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:49 am

Hello,

Sorry for the novice-level question but we are remodeling our kitchen and as part of that we would like to bring our kitchen up to code. I understand that our counter receptacles require two 20-amp GFCI circuits. All other issues in a vacuum, does that mean that every receptacle is required to be GFCI, or just the first receptacle wired in the series on that circuit?

Our 1960's home is not currently grounded (i.e. no ground rod, all electrical cables out of the panel are 12/2 no ground) the panel has been updated and will take one, and it looks like someone at one point has connected a copper wire to a water supply pipe (not sure what circuits this is actually serving though as I have not removed the panel cover). A previous owner also replaced all the outlets with three-prong receptacles and tied/pig-tailed the neutral and ground screws together (possibly to pass inspection?)

I would like to have a ground rod installed and have at least the kitchen (along with the lighting in the dining/living room via the attic) updated to code (the rest of house will be updated at a later date).

Any advice would be appreciated.

npautler
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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by npautler » Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:59 am

These are the receptacles that I am prepared to order if all counter outlets are required to be GFCI:
https://www.amazon.com/Leviton-AGTR2-W- ... 317&sr=8-4

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Aaron
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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by Aaron » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:12 am

So for counter receptacle, you need two 20A circuits with GFCI protection. That protection could be from a GFCI breaker at the panel or from the first receptacle wired from the panel being a GFCI receptacle.

If you discovered neutral and ground tied together in a box, that us a "bootleg ground" and ILLEGAL. Sadly it will go undetected with a cheap receptacle tester; more sophisticated test equipment will detect them right away.

The only solution in your house for grounded circuits is complete rewiring, unfortunately. So you should NOT have grounded outlets where there are no grounding conductors. UNLESS the box is metal and is grounded by virtue of having a metallic conduit between the box and panel?

That receptacle you linked to in Amazon is both AFCI and GFCI protected. You just need GFCI, and those cost about $10.

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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by npautler » Mon Aug 26, 2019 11:39 am

Thanks Aaron. Just as a follow-up, does the NEC 2017 require AFCI protection too in kitchen counter receptacles? I realize that I framed this post as only concerned with GFCI but just curious if I should pay the extra for the first receptacle in each kitchen circuit?

In addition, I would like to eventually rewire the entire house to get everything grounded. But we are just starting with the kitchen (after getting a ground rod installed). But, to your knowledge, is there a requirement when updating only part of your home, that says you MUST then rewire the whole house up to code?

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Aaron
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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by Aaron » Mon Aug 26, 2019 12:25 pm

No, your house is grandfathered in its currently wired state. I think technically you don't even need to update it even as you renovate within the house's existing footprint--you need to only observe current code if you add additions to the house. But, of course, it makes sense to bring areas you renovate within the house up to code, not least for safety but for resale value as well.

If you're doing a complete reno of the kitchen up to electrical code it will probably require an extensive upgrade to the electrical system. You're going to need lots of circuits you may not have already, and they will require AFCI protection, except for the dedicated ones hard-wired to the dishwasher and disposer.

My suggestion is to install AFCI breakers in the panel, and use GFCI receptacles at the countertops. Countertop receptacles are mandatory and spacing is specific relative to the sink. Only the first receptacle on the circuit from the panel is required to be GFCI, all downstream standard duplex receptacles are wired to the load side of the GFCI and are protected by the first GFCI.

If you use that AFCI/GFCI receptacle, then the wiring between the panel and that first AFCI/GFCI receptacle would need to be armoured (either steel conduit, Type AC, or Type MC). So that is not really practical in my opinion.

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emtnut
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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by emtnut » Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:42 pm

npautler wrote:
Mon Aug 26, 2019 10:49 am

Our 1960's home is not currently grounded (i.e. no ground rod, all electrical cables out of the panel are 12/2 no ground) the panel has been updated and will take one, and it looks like someone at one point has connected a copper wire to a water supply pipe

I would like to have a ground rod installed and have at least the kitchen (along with the lighting in the dining/living room via the attic) updated to code (the rest of house will be updated at a later date).
If you're comfortable taking the main panel cover off, a pic may be helpful.

I'd think that your house IS grounded, but probably to the copper water line coming into the house.

Ground rods are required by code, but nothing wrong with just having the copper water pipe (it's actually a better ground than a ground rod)

Assuming that you have a #6 copper wire to the copper pipe, then if you are running new cables for your kitchen, you're good to go.
~~ Ford Ford Ford Ford Ford Ford :mrgreen: ~~

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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by npautler » Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:00 am

Thank you for the additional input, emtnut! I will pull the cover off tonight and take a few pics. It does appear to be #6 bare copper. However, the panel is on the other side of the house from the water supply pipe. The copper wire goes from the panel in the utility room basement, follows the floor joist about 20' to the cold room (under the front entry), and then connects to the water pipe there. Seems like a pretty far distance.

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Aaron
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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by Aaron » Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:16 pm

That's ok that it's long. What matters is that you have ground. Someday if you want to bring the panel up to modern code you can drive in a few ground rods outside near the meter and bring the ground in from there.

Of course the rods would be in addition to your water supply ground. But what you have suffices just fine for now.

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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by npautler » Wed Aug 28, 2019 8:52 pm

I pulled the panel cover off and snapped a few pics. A lot going on in there. But the #6 wire from the water supply pipe comes down and then connects to one of the neutral bus bars (Circled in red). Sorry if I’m not using the correct terminology. Is this okay? Shouldn’t there be a ground bus bar too? I snapped some photos of the panel info as well as the water supply pipe. Appreciate everyone’s help on this forum!
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Aaron
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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by Aaron » Thu Aug 29, 2019 12:14 am

Everything looks very normal to me! You have your ground terminated to the service panel's neutral/ground bus bars, and it is also jumpered around the water meter to guarantee continuity to the water supply entrance from the street.

No, neutral and ground are bonded at the service entrance panel, so that is normal in your panel. This is the ONLY spot they are bonded together. Downstream, the neutral and ground must be completely isolated, including in subpanels, if you have any.

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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by emtnut » Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:09 pm

It looks like either MC cable or possibly some FMT in that panel. Also a couple of rigid conduits.
They may be grounded and if so, the outlets would be as well.
If it is FMT, a ground wire could be added.

Hard to tell from the pics, but I think most of the breakers run thru the rigid.

Is there conduit run thru most of the house ??
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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by Aaron » Thu Aug 29, 2019 10:36 pm

Yes true! If you have metal boxes that your switches and receptacles are in, give them a test. With a voltage tester or multimeter, if you get 120V when touching a lead to a hot terminal and the box, then you are lucky--you have ground to the panel. Just pigtail a ground from the box to the receptacle and you will have a legitimate, bonafide, grounded receptacle.

npautler
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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by npautler » Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:15 am

Hard to tell from the pics, but I think most of the breakers run thru the rigid.
Is there conduit run thru most of the house ??

The two largest rigid conduits running into the panel (left side of the panel in the picture, I think they are 2") both have about four cloth covered cables running through them. These mainly go to the main floor and upstairs circuits of our multi-level home. The conduit does not extend beyond the subfloor (at least it appears so), and I think this was done mainly because the panel is in an unfinished utility room in the basement. I've tested a few of the metal boxes with my multi meter and they are not grounded via the conduit.

The basement of our home was finished by the previous home owner (other than the utility closet), it is all 12/2 wg. and is mainly the MC cables that are near the bottom of the panel. They are grounded.

npautler
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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by npautler » Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:26 am

As a follow-up, the kitchen (that we are remodeling) is directly above this panel and utility room (panel is actually on the same wall as the kitchen countertop, lucked out there). When I add/upgrade the two 20 amp GFCI protected countertop circuits, how should I run the cable? Because the panel is in the unfinished utility closet, I can't have the romex going directly into the panel, so would you run MC cable to the first GFCI receptacles (either side of the sink) then 12/2 wg romex out of those boxes and down to the rest receptacles in the series?

Also, does the refrigerator need to be on a dedicated circuit?

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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by Aaron » Fri Aug 30, 2019 9:57 pm

npautler wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:15 am
The two largest rigid conduits running into the panel (left side of the panel in the picture, I think they are 2") both have about four cloth covered cables running through them. These mainly go to the main floor and upstairs circuits of our multi-level home. The conduit does not extend beyond the subfloor (at least it appears so), and I think this was done mainly because the panel is in an unfinished utility room in the basement. I've tested a few of the metal boxes with my multi meter and they are not grounded via the conduit.
Ah ok, so this current panel you've got is probably a direct replacement of the previous old panel that was in its exact same spot. All the old wiring was run through the conduit for physical protection. If it's old knob-and-tube style, each conductor is inside a braided cloth sheath loosely covering it called "loom". The load (hot) and neutral conductors are separated. It' often difficult to tell, without testing the conductors, which one is neutral and which one's hot, as the insulation looks the same on each.
npautler wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:15 am
The basement of our home was finished by the previous home owner (other than the utility closet), it is all 12/2 wg. and is mainly the MC cables that are near the bottom of the panel. They are grounded.
Ok, yes, that would be an appropriate cable type to use if it's exposed in the open and not necessarily behind walls (like NM cable).
npautler wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:26 am
As a follow-up, the kitchen (that we are remodeling) is directly above this panel and utility room (panel is actually on the same wall as the kitchen countertop, lucked out there). When I add/upgrade the two 20 amp GFCI protected countertop circuits, how should I run the cable? Because the panel is in the unfinished utility closet, I can't have the romex going directly into the panel, so would you run MC cable to the first GFCI receptacles (either side of the sink) then 12/2 wg romex out of those boxes and down to the rest receptacles in the series?
You should check with your local electrical inspector as to what they might allow. It would be nice if you could attach a piece of 1x4 pine vertically adjacent to the panel using Tapcon screws and/or construction adhesive to the concrete wall. Then you could run NM cable into the panel and staple it appropriately to the wood straight through the floor into your kitchen area to the first receptacle.

That is much less of a headache than dealing with Type MC or EMT conduit.
npautler wrote:
Fri Aug 30, 2019 11:26 am
Also, does the refrigerator need to be on a dedicated circuit?
Not needed, but recommended. Just a 15A circuit on 14/2 should suffice.

Also, make sure all your new receptacles are tamper-resistant (TR) types. This is required since 2009.

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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by npautler » Sun Sep 01, 2019 9:19 pm

If it's old knob-and-tube style, each conductor is inside a braided cloth sheath loosely covering it called "loom". The load (hot) and neutral conductors are separated.
I don’t think it’s KT wiring. It looks like this picture (I took this after replacing a floodlight in the rear of the house)
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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by Aaron » Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:16 am

Oh yes, that is very early NM sheathed cable. Probably from the 1940s into the 1950s, before there was PVC sheathing. If had woven papery fibers impregnated in rubber I think.

If there was a light fixture there, it should be in an electrical box. Generally a "pancake" style box is a quick retrofit.

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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by npautler » Tue Sep 03, 2019 2:44 pm

If there was a light fixture there, it should be in an electrical box. Generally a "pancake" style box is a quick retrofit.
Whoever installed the old floodlight just had a gasket around the base of it with the cable just sticking out of the aluminum siding! I installed a round weatherproof box, caulked it, then installed our RING floodlight. Every time I open something in this house I get a "head scratching" moment.

Appreciate all the info!

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Re: Kitchen Outlets - GFCI Question

Post by Aaron » Tue Sep 03, 2019 8:58 pm

Yeah if that's aluminum siding, the sharp cut edge of it could chafe the wiring. No good! Glad you brought it to modern standard.

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