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One Little GFCI

 
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Old 03-21-2015, 04:26 PM   #1
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One Little GFCI


Working on a multi-million dollar property, and, I am installing an LED back yard lighting system that lights up the back yard at night. So you have 5 - 50watt LED floods. Anyway, lots of conduit, trenching, back boxes, supports and so forth.

The only circuit I find out there is a 4 x 4 box with non-GFCI outlets in it that has the plug for the pool pump mounted to a retaining wall across the lawn. The yard itself is 100' x 100' with half of it at a fairly steep slope.

So, got everything in, lights, enclosure with timer and override switch, wall penetrations, back boxes, extra boxes and outlets at some of the lights. Not bad, looks good, and, it's going to light up the back yard like Yankee Stadium.

During the installation, everything was fine (3+ days to install), periodically checked power, tested light, so forth. Final test, no power. Go back to the original box, no power. What??

Check the breaker, it's on. I mention this to the owner and he says that sometimes when the power goes out in back, he has to press this button on an outlet. I ask which one. It's in the kitchen next to the disposal switch. I open it up.

So, the whole back yard, sprinkler system, pool pump, lighting and outlets are run off the back of a 15amp GFCI in the kitchen, which is also used for the toaster and coffee maker. WTF !!!

To check, I hit the reset, and, yes, everything comes on. I take the wiring off the breaker and just have the GFCI wired in parallel with the circuit (which BTW is labelled Kitchen Outlets).

Ok, test everything again. No power...I am using the MF word a lot now, in reference to whoever wired this in the first place...the developers electrician. So now I trace everything to another GFCI on the outside of the house, on the other side of the wall from the kitchen. So, they wired the GFCI in the kitchen to the GFCI on the outside of the house in the back yard. So now I wire this GFCI in parallel with the circuit and move the timer for the pond pump out to the pond area and plug it into one of my new outlets.

Now everything works. But the guy really needs at least two dedicated circuits for the backyard.
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Old 03-21-2015, 04:44 PM   #2
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Re: One Little GFCI


How ever did that pass inspection ?. But who the f&%k doe's that kind of c%ap.
Its a shame some times a home owner thru no fault of their own gets f&^ked.

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Old 03-21-2015, 04:52 PM   #3
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Re: One Little GFCI


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How ever did that pass inspection ?. But who the f&%k doe's that kind of c%ap.
Its a shame some times a home owner thru no fault of their own gets f&^ked.
Oh, you want an inspection.......... Excuse me !!!!!!

What likely happened was the landscaper found the GFCI on the outside of the house, and, figured that's where the power is. So he digs up the backyard, and runs conduit: puts in a BBQ (with power), Pond and waterfall (with power), puts in 3 locations on the retaining wall with non-GFCI outlet (cus the feeder is a GFCI.....this happens a lot in tract home construction especially in the garage), Sprinkler system (with power), outdoor lighting throughout (with power).

No inspections.
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Old 03-21-2015, 04:55 PM   #4
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Re: One Little GFCI


One GFCI was downstream of the other?
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Old 03-21-2015, 04:59 PM   #5
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Re: One Little GFCI


Stuff like this ceased to surprise me many years ago.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:05 PM   #6
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Re: One Little GFCI


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One GFCI was downstream of the other?
Yes
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:08 PM   #7
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Re: One Little GFCI


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Stuff like this ceased to surprise me many years ago.
Don't do that much resi. Seen the same thing in upscale housing garages. 4 to 5 reg receptacles wired to one GFCI. Then the HO wonders why suddenly, none of the outlets work.

Not surprised, just pissed that they did it this way.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:09 PM   #8
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Re: One Little GFCI


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Originally Posted by cwatbay View Post
Don't do that much resi. Seen the same thing in upscale housing garages. 4 to 5 reg receptacles wired to one GFCI. Then the HO wonders why suddenly, none of the outlets work.

Not surprised, just pissed that they did it this way.
At least you can make some money off it.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:15 PM   #9
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Re: One Little GFCI


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Yes

4 to 5 reg receptacles wired to one GFCI.
You'd think the more sensitive one would always trip first but that may not happen.

As long as GFCIs cost more than receptacles, yes.
Our kitchen is now wired that way, and finding out which box was upstream of the others was a bit tricky. You need a DVM and a 10A load.

Our screened porch was wired incorrectly by a sparky but the GFCI test button worked.
A 7-1/2w bulb from hot to ground found the mistake. The GFCI stayed latched despite this ground fault.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:15 PM   #10
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Re: One Little GFCI


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At least you can make some money off it.
True. Did make money off the $12k camera system (Mobotix) that I put in (didn't design it....but had to figure out location, power, trenching, conduit ,wiring and so forth....sister company did the selection of cams and views)

And, I will make money off the LED lighting system for this guy's backyard basketball court.

And, with my suggestions, make money off the additional circuits for the backyard. Lots of trenching and conduit for that. Probably a sub-panel for the back yard.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:17 PM   #11
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Re: One Little GFCI


I anticipate problems, but they still surprise me. Slogging through them is still not fun.

Pool really should have it's own circuit, IMO. At least it isn't being run off a toaster circuit any more.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:21 PM   #12
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Re: One Little GFCI


That's more common than one would think. Usually a result of multiple jobs pretty much the way you described it.

I'd say my personal ratio of "no power" troubleshooting runs about 100:1 GFCI vs any actual connection issues.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:22 PM   #13
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Re: One Little GFCI


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True. Did make money off the $12k camera system (Mobotix) that I put in (didn't design it....but had to figure out location, power, trenching, conduit ,wiring and so forth....sister company did the selection of cams and views)

And, I will make money off the LED lighting system for this guy's backyard basketball court.

And, with my suggestions, make money off the additional circuits for the backyard. Lots of trenching and conduit for that. Probably a sub-panel for the back yard.
I haven't touched a mobotix camera in years, they were a nice product to work with.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:27 PM   #14
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Re: One Little GFCI


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I haven't touched a mobotix camera in years, they were a nice product to work with.
My sister firm ( I own 20% and I license them ) loves the Mobotix cams for residential. They love the door bell cams - none of which have worked right yet.

I have gone through Mobotix training and have put them in. To me though, they are like a $1000 solution to a $100 problem.

I still prefer Arecont, Axis, Sony, DRS, and, a few low end cams like: Digital Watchdog, Hikvision, and LTS.
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Old 03-21-2015, 05:30 PM   #15
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Re: One Little GFCI


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My sister firm ( I own 20% and I license them ) loves the Mobotix cams for residential. They love the door bell cams - none of which have worked right yet.

I have gone through Mobotix training and have put them in. To me though, they are like a $1000 solution to a $100 problem.

I still prefer Arecont, Axis, Sony, DRS, and, a few low end cams like: Digital Watchdog, Hikvision, and LTS.
I gotta say, the residential front door camera intercom solution is the one damn product I hate from all manufacturers. No one offers a panacea.

I'm all Axis and Hik unless the products are speced out for me.
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Old 03-22-2015, 10:26 AM   #16
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Re: One Little GFCI


Here is a pic from the client
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Old 03-22-2015, 02:49 PM   #17
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Re: One Little GFCI


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Originally Posted by Tinstaafl View Post
That's more common than one would think. Usually a result of multiple jobs pretty much the way you described it.

I'd say my personal ratio of "no power" troubleshooting runs about 100:1 GFCI vs any actual connection issues.
There are many houses that I work in which were built in the 80's that have outside GFCI's wired to the 2nd fl bathroom. Over the years home inspectors noted no outside GFCI present, h/o installs them. And the head scratching begins for the next h/o.
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Old 03-22-2015, 04:42 PM   #18
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Re: One Little GFCI


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There are many houses that I work in which were built in the 80's that have outside GFCI's wired to the 2nd fl bathroom. Over the years home inspectors noted no outside GFCI present, h/o installs them. And the head scratching begins for the next h/o.
Just mapping out the breakers and their outlets is a tedious job. I have designations like Upper NE room, 2nd outlet, etc. and then you've got the overhead light fixtures and switch controlled outlets.

You can find out if there is a GFCI on a breaker by looking for a few mA being drawn on that line by the internals of the GFCI but you first have to unplug all appliances from that line that are never totally 'off'; TVs, VCRs, copy machines, printers, etc..

Also, with a GFCI, both the hot and the neutral no longer have continuity back to the panel, unlike with most SPST switches.

Last edited by GettingBy; 03-22-2015 at 04:45 PM.
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Old 03-22-2015, 07:53 PM   #19
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Re: One Little GFCI


No better time then now to upsell two new circuits since the problem has been found. Leave it until later and they will forget there was a problem or you will be getting called back when GFCI's are getting tripped.
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Old 03-23-2015, 08:49 AM   #20
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No better time then now to upsell two new circuits since the problem has been found. Leave it until later and they will forget there was a problem or you will be getting called back when GFCI's are getting tripped.
That is true. Although I think the lighting for the basketball court is next. These million dollar two story homes were all built on slabs. The service is in the garage on the house to garage wall. There would be a lot of work with opening up the wall to run conduit to the side of the garage, then trenching to the back yard...and under walkways. I think that if we put a sub-panel out in the backyard, this will solve a lot of current and future issues.

Apparently the house was built. Then the developer offered a lot of additions to the back yard: pool, ponds, lighting, sprinklers, etc. I was told there was a big push to sell these places and get the backyards finished ASAP. Which kind of explains why there are no breakers or circuits dedicated to the back yard. All the circuits going back to the yard end at the kitchen.

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