Follow-up on new GFCI code requirement

Remodeling a Kitchen? Think about updating GFCI outlets.

This is an update of a blog I wrote last year regarding new NEC requirements for GFCI plugs as of June 29, 2015.

New Rules on GFCI Receptacles

We purchased an older home recently, and did major remodeling including the kitchen. We had some electrical issues in the kitchen, so I called in an electrician to analyze and fix the problem. Not just an electrician, this fellow was an electrical inspector who did some odd jobs on weekends.

GFCI-Outlet

New GFCI Outlet

He addressed and fixed the main problem I had which related to the lack of adequate power in my kitchen. While he was there, I asked him to install new GFCI outlets in my kitchen. We had a brief discussion regarding the new code, and he informed me that GFCI plugs should not be used for the refrigerator. THIS IS WRONG, and it is widely misunderstood by the trade. The new NEC code which went into effect June 29, 2015 requires the new self-monitoring GFCI's in the kitchen, but does make an exception for a refrigerator in the kitchen. That does not mean that the GFCI is not a good idea for the refrigerator, but an exception is granted where needed (see below). Here's what you should know:

At one time, twenty years or more ago, refrigerators and freezers had large compressors, that had large power requirements when they turned on, a “surge” if you will. Old model refrigerators provided a lot of cooling very quickly, then turned off for a long time, and then kicked back on when the refrigerator warmed up. A refrigerator or freezer kicking on might unnecessarily trigger the circuit breaker and disconnect power to the refrigerator. This could result in food loss or spoilage. However, today's refrigerators have smaller compressors that run all the time at variable speeds, eliminating the “surge” and keeping temperatures even. Refrigerators today pose little risk of tripping a circuit breaker. In fact, if they do trip the circuit breaker, it is likely there is an underlying cause that needs to be addressed.

The real lesson for you is that if you have any electrical work done in your kitchen or baths, it is a good idea to update your electrical receptacles with new outlets that are compliant to the latest NEC requirements.


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Kitchen Remodeling Tip 2: GFCI Circuits

GFCI Circuits in your Kitchen

Our last blog on kitchen remodeling covered electrical issues that might occur.

Kitchen Remodeling Tip: Check Electrical Needs

In my case, I had an older house with appliances (refrigerator and built-in micro-hood) each wired on circuits with other electrical outlets rather than on separate circuits. It was not practical to add separate circuits for these two appliances, but we were able to move the microwave to a different circuit with lower total power demand which resolved any power shortage issues. Also, It was not necessary to to move the refrigerator to another circuit.

Now, we’re going to cover the issues regarding GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) in an older house.

GFCI

GFCI-Outlet

GFCI Outlet

Originally, the NEC code required GFCI receptacles only in the garage and bathrooms. Over the years, the code has been regularly amended, to include kitchens, and laundry areas. What is a GFCI receptacle?

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. In brief, a GFCI receptacle monitors electricity passing through any plugged in device for an imbalance. The GFCI receptacle breaks the circuit if there is more than a 5 milliamp difference between the electrical current entering and the current leaving. The result is that any device plugged into a GFCI receptacle with a short or a wiring issue will be disconnected in about .025 seconds.

In my particular instance, for some reason we had no GFCI receptacles in the house. So I had the electrician add GFCI receptacles to the bathrooms and the kitchen areas so we’d be up to code. However, I’ve just learned that the latest revision to the code now has added a GFCI requirement for dishwashers. It’s easy to get frustrated over changing regulations, but when you consider that spending a few bucks on having the proper electrical outlet might save a life, it makes sense to be protected from electrical hazards.

For more information on GFCI or other remodeling or building issues contact your remodeling professional or homebuilder.


Appliances, floor coverings, window treatments, and more

Arizona Wholesale

Phoenix 602 258-7901, Scottsdale 480 596-0092, Tucson 520 795-4663

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