Saturday, February 21, 2009

Subject: GFCI outlets in the whole house

Name: Phil

Knob and tubeImage by Generation 3 Electric, Inc via Flickr
Knob and tube wiring as recreated at the Manit...Image via WikipediaQuestion: I have a house (built 1956/2 wire copper system) i would like to add GFCI outlets to. I have mapped and triple checked the mapping (circuit directory at the breaker panel) and several ciruits have outlets they control in different rooms. I realize a GFCI can be wired accordingly so the first outlet in the circuit can protect the other outlets downstream in that circuit.However,takeing into account there are outlets on some circuits in several rooms. Would it be a wise/code ok to install GFCI'S throughout the house? Would this eliminate "playing finding the tripped outlet and other similar problems with oulets that are on one circuit in multiple rooms. Thank youI can get these GFCI'S (a well known brand name) for right at &7. each for a lot of 15. But you can't put a price on the safety they provide.

Answer: Hi Phil,I don't know if I would spent the time or energy installing GFCI outlets on every circuit in the house in the name of safety. If you only have a hot and neutral but no ground I don't believe that adding the GFCIs will really make your safety problem go away. You real problem is your whole electrical system is 50 years old and plans need to be put into place for its replacement. I know this is expensive but you don't have to do it all at one time. I would first start by running a new circuit to each room of the house. Install it where it can be used for modern appliances such as electronic or window AC. They are the devices that will cause problems if they are not grounded. After that was done you can go room by room and replace the wires. This can be done over the course of the next 10 years. With a plan like this you can update all your wires and not break the bank.
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