Making a safer circuit i am told anyone of these do

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by DIY, Apr 9, 2008.

  1. DIY

    DIY New Member

    Messages:
    153
    Location:
    Florida
    I am all for safer! So, i am in one of those circa 1940-50's built home that is two wire (hot,neutral only that comes into each receptacle box) I have been reading up on this.. They say there is several ways to accomplish a safer/ ground for your two wire electrical circuits. 1. re-wire the house with a cable that has a ground wire in it,2. GFCI breakers,3. GFCI all receptacles,or 4. Wire up a GFCI receptacle so it protects other receptacles on that given circuit.


    2. Would be the easiest to do kinda pricy ,but unfortunately they do not make a GFCI breaker for the type breaker box i have.

    3. I am likeing this idea. (i can get in lots of 10 gfci receptacles for $35 to $39

    4. Is great to, but for instance on a give circnuit according to the circuit directory on the breaker panel says a particular circuit might be in the bedroom and living room....,and if the gfci trips all power in those other rooms goes off.(Which can make it an inconveniance of sorts at times.)Oh,now my question...lol What is the best/safest way to go of #3 and 4 above?
    And how does one go about determining/locating the first receptacle in a circuit.?

    Thanks to all!
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,129
    Location:
    New England
    3 and 4 are functioally equivalent, but 3 might be more convenient since the problem should be obvious if it tripper.

    GFCI CB work fine as well and MIGHT be higher quality than those in the outlets, but there's no guarantee. You might have problems with that if you are using some slim CB...you might not have enough room.

    Rewiring has some benefits as well, you can provide for today's needs and expectations for our power-hungry lives. A rewire would likely call for bringing the whole thing up to codes, which may call for a bunch of new outlets in the rooms. Current codes require lots of outlets in comparison to common practice long ago.
  3. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    There is another option that I have been able to implement in my home but it depends on your cable.

    If you have armored cable (with a bonding strip - not the very old BX which does not have a bonding strip) and this is properly bonded to both the metal wall boxes and the main electrical panel then you may be able to use ordinary three-prong receptacles and ground to the wall box using the outside of the armored cable as a grounding conductor.

    I did this, and tested for ground with all of them. Obviously I still used GFCI when a socket was within 6 feet of a water device (the kitchen, bathroom) or in my unfinished basement (sump pump, washer).

    Some people think I am a little crazy with the sump pump but modern GFCIs are good.

    This cannot be done with two wire Romex and should not be done with very old BX cable that does not have a thin metal bonding strip.

    For the ins and outs of me making a fool of myself about this issue see:

    http://www.nachi.org/forum/showthread.php?t=12920&highlight=bonding strip
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2008
  4. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    You will have two issues with the GFCI receps.

    1) A LOT of times the ran the home runs to the ceiling boxes. You will have to do a lot of tracing to figure out where to put the GFCI's.

    2) The old boxes are too small to safely accept a GFCI outlet. You will likely cause more harm than good by trying to stuff them in there.

    Have the panel upgraded and install GFCI breakers.
  5. DIY

    DIY New Member

    Messages:
    153
    Location:
    Florida
    getting ground

    Yep,Alectrician i recently found out about the box size thing. Although it seems with these 2" depth metal box's that a GFCI receptacle would fit ok with a little bit of room to spare with the boxes that have one cable going into the box....now the boxes with two cables going into ,and a GFCI receptacle things would get a bit stuffy in there.. They did an upgrade to the service here a few years back for central heat/air,and outside now is a 125 breaker box that has 14-15 blank spots. Can they bond/wire nut the necessary extra length of wire they would need to connect from the box inside (FPE )to the box outside(cutler hammer) ? the two boxes sit @ 8 to12" from each other. Or, i wonder if anyone has an upgrade/cross upgrade for the guts of an FPE box?

    Thanks for your reply much appreciated!
  6. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    A panel upgrade is going to cost you. And more than you might think if they have to install ground rods and change the meter box and SE.

    A quote on my house to update my 100amp Square D panel to a 200 Amp one was $2,500.

    I need a ground rod to be installed, a new SE cable and a new meter box.

    Ouch.

    The SE cable and meter box alone was almost half of that.

    I have not made the decision to go ahead with this work yet.

    And breakers outside? That sounds risky. What about water intrusion? Or somebody turning your power off?

    But in any case, wires must always terminate in a box. So if you join any wires, this must be done in a properly-sized box.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2008
  7. DIY

    DIY New Member

    Messages:
    153
    Location:
    Florida
    making circuits safe

    Thanks for the reply IanGillis,
    This is one of my main questions now. Can the circuits inside the house in an FPE box be moved to the outside box that has plenty of room in the box and @ 14-15 blank spots. (cutler hammer) another words a complete upgrade was done that now has a 125 service.. new meter cans,new weather head location ,ground rod etc. I am ok with putting all circuit breakers outside in the Cutler hammer box..it's secure and all of that .That would then make the FPE panel a junction box. If the above is not possible I will look for a breaker box comparible in size to the FPE box inside my house...hopefully a box that offers more room... I can see where the existing FPE box is mounted between studs with nails.(if i have to go this route i am hoping to find a panel taller rather than wider.) Square D i am thinking.... 2 questions that come to mind!? Do GFCI breakers respond as super blindingly quick as GFCI receptacles when they trip? Why i ask is will the existing older romex 2 wire (copper) that according to my gauge is AWG 12 running these circuits have any effect on the GFCI breaker response time when tripped?

    An ongoing much appreciated to all!!!
  8. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    Yes

    Technically....I have no idea what the time is, but they do work well. I have unintentionally tested them and the DO work well.
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2008
  9. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,129
    Location:
    New England
    The response and trip levels are the same as far as I know between the two versions - they have the same basic job to perform. The breaker has the added job of protecting from overload, which an outlet version doesn't. That response would be slower compared to a GF error.
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