Should you convert all house outlets to GFCI?

Summary
Looking for advice on if it is reasonable or a good idea to switch all house outlets to GFCI
I know the code says all outlets in kitchen, bathrooms, workspaces etc should be GFCI. But is it just smart to replace all outlets to GFCI outside some specific circumstances?
 
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There are also cases where you can still get shocked and it won't help at all as in touching the two hot prongs directly or by shorting a wire across them.
So sticking a fork into an outlet, it won't help at all. Only in cases where there is water?
 

berkeman

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It only helps for faults to ground, not for Line-to-Neutral faults.

Other than the extra cost, I'm not aware of any reason not to switch all to GFCI. There may be an issue with nuisance faults for heavy loads that start quickly, but I'm not sure about that.
 
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It only helps for faults to ground, not for Line-to-Neutral faults.

Other than the extra cost, I'm not aware of any reason not to switch all to GFCI. There may be an issue with nuisance faults for heavy loads that start quickly, but I'm not sure about that.
Not to mention trying to figure out what tripped and how to reset it. We had an outlet in our bathroom trip and couldn't find how to reset it. Turns out the garage outlet was the reset point. and it was hidden behind some boxes.
 
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Not certain of the value of having everything GFCI.

I know its either planned or already implemented, but in bedrooms and likely other places, they are now asking for AFCI's, which makes sense, since ground fault shocks are less likely, but an arc causing a fire is a larger concern (bad contacts, partially pulled cord etc).
 
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More info, this is Canadian code, other localities likely vary.

 

russ_watters

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Hopefully not a hijack, but there is a related issue you should be aware of:

AFCI requirements. The NEC now requires that virtually all branch circuits for lighting and receptacles in a home must have arc-fault circuit-interrupter (AFCI) protection. This is a form of protection that guards against sparking (arcing) and thereby reduces the chance of fire. Note that the AFCI requirement is in addition to whatever GFCI protection is required—an AFCI does not replace or eliminate the need for GFCI protection.

AFCI requirements are enforced mostly in new construction—there is no requirement that an existing system must be updated to comply with new-construction AFCI requirements. However, as of the 2017 NEC revision, when homeowners update or replace failing receptacles or other devices, they are required to add the AFCI protection at that location. This can be done in several ways:

-A standard circuit breaker can be replaced with a special AFCI circuit breaker. This is a job for a licensed electrician. Doing so will create AFCI protection to the entire circuit.

-A failing receptacle can be replaced with an AFCI receptacle. This will create AFCI protection to only the receptacle being replaced.

-Where GFCI protection is also required (such as kitchens and bathrooms), a receptacle can be replaced with a dual AFCI/GFCI receptacle.


 
AFCI is at the circuit breaker or at the outlet? So GFCI for rooms that get wet and AFCI for everything else? btw has anyone had a surge protector installed at the circuit breaker level?

edit: looks like there are combination AFCI / GFCI outlets too
 
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tech99

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I had an incident where water entered a socket outlet and caused a fire because the current was insufficient to rupture the fuse. I think that a GFCI (RCD in the UK) would probably have tripped on this type of fault. We also split the house into two zones so that not all power is lost.
 
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When I studied the UK wiring codes for redoing my house (2012), the advice was to protect every circuit with an RCD. In practice this resulted in two groups of circuits, each one served by its own RCD (a split load arrangement).

The downstairs sockets and upstairs lights were in one group, and vice-versa, so if a socket faulted the local lights would stay on. It was a handy system for first diagnosis, since an RCD trip would mean an earth fault, an MCB an overload or short.

Circuits without RCD were only allowed with certain earthing systems, and for a reason, such as an oven or workshop welder that might nuisance trip.

Point is, the question was not “should I include RCD”, but “should I not...”. RCDs are the default here. I think our home supplies are all the safer for it, and stories of bathtub electrocutions virtually unknown.

Further to this, electricians are now fitting RCBOs which are a breaker and RCD in one unit, so each circuit now has its own complete protection.
 

russ_watters

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AFCI is at the circuit breaker or at the outlet?
There's both, but it is much easier to replace the outlet than the breaker. The main issue is that they are much more expensive than regular ones --- but I suspect they will be phasing out the regular ones at hardware stores.
....btw has anyone had a surge protector installed at the circuit breaker level?
No, but we had a thread about it maybe a year ago where a member was looking into it...
 

Averagesupernova

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The last that I knew GFCI protection is required in any unfinished space such as a garage or basement. If it has a concrete floor, it is considered unfinished. GFCI protection is also required within a certain distance of a sink whether it be bathroom, kitchen, laundry, etc. Nothing says GFCI is required in kitchens in general.
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As far as Arc Fault protection goes, pretty much any living space now requires it. Keep in mind that Arc Fault protection does offer protection against current imbalance between the hot and neutral too, but they are not as sensitive as a regular GFCI device. Arc Fault devices will trip with a current imbalance around 40 mA if memory serves me, but a regular GFCI device will trip with an balance around 5 mA.
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It's been a while but the last house I was involved with wiring had a dual function breaker feeding the garbage disposal/dishwasher circuit. It was a place that Arc fault protection was required and being close to the sink required the 4 to 6 mA GFCI protection. I am not a fan of GFCI protection at the breaker since when it trips it means treking to the basement to reset the breaker, and there is no way to tell if it was an overload/short that tripped the breaker or GFCI protection tripped it. I think the reason we did the dual function breaker was that we used a duplex standard outlet split up because one half was switched for the disposal. You can't split up a regular GFCI outlet. So all the protection went into the breaker.
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My suggestion is to stick with the code. Don't put GFCI stuff where it isn't required such as a bedroom. Use the Arc Fault breakers where required.
 

Tom.G

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If you have surge protectors (mine are built in to outlet strips), it is handy to have them supplied by a GFCI. When the surge protector shunts a surge to Ground it trips the GFCI, thereby disconnecting the protected equipment when a large surge occurs. That seemed to happen about twice a year here in Southern California.

[CktBrkr]---------[GFCI outlet]----------[Surge Prot]----------{protected load}

In my case, the {protected load} is reallly a {battery backup/UPS} to {computer equipment}.

Cheers,
Tom
 
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Don't put GFCI stuff where it isn't required such as a bedroom.
Sticking to code is best, of course, but why wouldn’t you put a GCFI in and go one better?

A bedroom may not require one, but going back to those two or three bathtub electrocutions I’ve read about in the states, I believe at least one involved an extension cord from a non-protected bedroom socket.

Ditto a kitchen, but kitchens are downstairs generally, and downstairs sockets get used for plugging in outdoor devices such as hedge trimmers and pressure washers.
 
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GFCIs offer fire protection as well as electrocution - if your circuit is run through just a breaker, and an earth fault occurs such that, say, 10A flows through the earth loop, that is a lot of power for starting fires.

For example, my friend’s house has antiquated electrics with no GFCIs at all. A live wire came loose from inside a socket and shorted against the corroded earth inside, causing it to get hot. The loop impedance was too high to trip anything, so the first he knew of the fault was that the socket wouldn’t work and was hot. There was carnage inside. A GFCI would have tripped to indicate the fault, and prevented any significant power from flowing. That could have ended very badly indeed.
 
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GFCIs offer fire protection as well as electrocution - if your circuit is run through just a breaker, and an earth fault occurs such that, say, 10A flows through the earth loop, that is a lot of power for starting fires.

For example, my friend’s house has antiquated electrics with no GFCIs at all. A live wire came loose from inside a socket and shorted against the corroded earth inside, causing it to get hot. The loop impedance was too high to trip anything, so the first he knew of the fault was that the socket wouldn’t work and was hot. There was carnage inside. A GFCI would have tripped to indicate the fault, and prevented any significant power from flowing. That could have ended very badly indeed.
Only if the fault was upstream of the GFCI outlet, if the hot wire falls out of the GFCI outlet and shorts to ground, same problem.
 
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Only if the fault was upstream of the GFCI outlet, if the hot wire falls out of the GFCI outlet and shorts to ground, same problem.
Our GFCIs are installed at the supply panel.
 
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I am pro GFCI and have them in bath and outside. Two places I do not want them: on the refrigerator and on the furnace. They do trip occasionally and I prefer cold food and unfrozen pipes.
 
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I am pro GFCI and have them in bath and outside. Two places I do not want them: on the refrigerator and on the furnace. They do trip occasionally and I prefer cold food and unfrozen pipes.
Now, I do sympathise with this, since I have the odd thing on a non-GFCI outlet. But I had a welder that would nuisance trip, so I changed the wiring to non-GFCI. The switch later burned out and I realised the ‘nuisance’ tripping was actually a developing fault!

Standard UK GFCIs are 30mA, which is a reasonable compromise between safety and usability. With several things using one protected circuit, sometimes the earth leakage from dirt and decoupling caps can add up and cause intermittent trips. The solution is to investigate by clamping L+N and reading fault current, to see if any one appliance is the culprit. If all’s well, either moving the appliance supplies around or uprating the GFCI might be the next step.
 
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Our GFCIs are installed at the supply panel.
I see GFCI breakers for sale, but at ~5x cost of GFCI outlet its a hard sell. Sometimes you'll see a 15 or 20A line come from the panel, go to a GFCI outlet right next to it, which isn't used at that location, its only used to GFCI the rest of the line that runs off to the kitchen or bath room.
 

Averagesupernova

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Any house that is going to have some electrical updating done and the argument for putting GFCI outlets in everywhere because of running an extension cord into a bathroom needs some serious rethinking. Do the proper thing and eliminate the extension cord and put a 5 mA GFCI in the bathroom. Keep in mind that the arc fault breakers have imbalance protection around 40 mA. So any wire that touches ground and does not draw enough current to trip a breaker will surely exceed 40 mA to trip.
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One other thing, what are the boxes made of? Many older houses use metal boxes which I am not against but they were physically small and you likely risk more by installing a large GFCI outlet into a box that it hardly fits. The screw terminals get really really close to the box in this situation. If the boxes are plastic, which are typically larger boxes, then the wire slipping out of the terminal is likely not an issue. The outlet will go dead and that is about it.
 
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@essenmein this is what I mean:

56524C3D-8291-4671-AB84-51D31F49EC4E.png


Fits right on the DIN rail with the other breakers. Two of these would serve the whole house, each taking half of the circuits. Cheap, really. And no need to fit special outlets.
 
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hah I know what they look like, and 16 pound seems like a bargain! compare:
245400
 

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