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#202299 - 07/30/11 10:39 AM Circuits and GFCI - 70s code
switches Offline
New Member
Registered: 07/30/11
Posts: 9
Loc: FL
When GFCIs were first coming out in the NEC codes, was it common to see them at first? I ask, because my house was built between 1976-78 and surprisingly, there are no GFCI outlets or breakers anywhere. I suppose that the new code just wasn't accepted yet, but a relative's house in the same county built in 1978 has GFCI breakers for the baths and outside outlets.

Another thing I have noticed is my home has one 20 A circuit for kitchen lighting and counter outlets. Same with the bathroom. Shouldn't there be two 20 A circuits for each of these rooms?

I've also noticed that the outlets in some room are on the same circuit as those in other rooms. Example, the washing machine circuit also has a hallway outlet and 3 outlets in the adjacent bedroom on it. This is annoying when trying to vacuum and run the washer at once.

My house was built by a contractor for himself so I don't understand these things being overlooked.
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#202301 - 07/30/11 11:45 AM Re: Circuits and GFCI - 70s code [Re: switches]
sparkyinak Offline
Member
Registered: 07/08/07
Posts: 1308
Loc: Alaska
Either the code was not adopted in the juristdiction or who ever wired it didn't have a clue what they were doing. I'm living in a house built in 93 and remodeled since then and still hasn't met any code since it was built. Both the local building officials and the "person(s)" doing the wiring failed.
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#202303 - 07/30/11 12:44 PM Re: Circuits and GFCI - 70s code [Re: switches]
dougwells Offline


Member
Registered: 05/03/03
Posts: 1230
Loc: kamloops BC Canada
I knew contractors who would pull out the GFCI breaker after the final when they first came out. I bet that breaker saw a lot of panels


Edited by dougwells (07/30/11 12:45 PM)
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#202307 - 07/30/11 05:45 PM Re: Circuits and GFCI - 70s code [Re: switches]
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member
Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5305
Loc: Blue Collar Country
Odds are, the house was originally wires with only one GFCI device, protecting the few locations that required it. The receptacle was likely placed in a laundry room or garage.

It's also likely that the device was removed and replaced with an ordinary one. Early GFCI's were rather easy to miswire, and had rather limited lifespans.
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#202340 - 08/01/11 10:57 AM Re: Circuits and GFCI - 70s code [Re: switches]
HotLine1 Offline


Member
Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6833
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
switches:

Gfretwell is down you way and may be a good source of some local 'lore' for that time period.

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#202344 - 08/01/11 11:32 AM Re: Circuits and GFCI - 70s code [Re: switches]
gfretwell Offline


Member
Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9066
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
Until around 2002 the electric code was whatever the local AHJ said it was in Florida. Jurisdictions being 2 or 3 cycles behind was common and some were farther behind than that.
It would not be surprising that a house built in 78 was not built to the 75 code when GFCIs started showing up. Out in the hinterlands enforcement was spotty anyway.

There were also additional local rules in some places. It was this mish mash of local codes that prompted Florida to pass the Unified Building Code law. Now everyone is required to enforce the state code.
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#202537 - 08/09/11 09:31 AM Re: Circuits and GFCI - 70s code [Re: renosteinke]
switches Offline
New Member
Registered: 07/30/11
Posts: 9
Loc: FL
Originally Posted By renosteinke
Odds are, the house was originally wires with only one GFCI device, protecting the few locations that required it. The receptacle was likely placed in a laundry room or garage.

It's also likely that the device was removed and replaced with an ordinary one. Early GFCI's were rather easy to miswire, and had rather limited lifespans.


I thought about that too. However, the way the house is wired, it wouldn't be possible to get the outside and bathroom outlets on one circuit. The only outside outlet is on the same circuit as the living room outlets.

Were GFCI outlets common back in the 1970s? I really haven't see any until the early 80s.
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#202566 - 08/10/11 06:32 AM Re: Circuits and GFCI - 70s code [Re: switches]
harold endean Offline
Member
Registered: 02/16/02
Posts: 2248
Loc: Boonton, NJ
I started electrical work around 1976 and I don't remember GFCI receptacles back then. I believe they came out late '70's early '80's around here. They were very big and came with a box extender. It almost looked like a "goof" plate. It stuck out of the wall about 1/4".
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#202572 - 08/10/11 09:59 AM Re: Circuits and GFCI - 70s code [Re: switches]
gfretwell Offline


Member
Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9066
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
P/S LeGrand says they had a GFCI receptacle in 1971.
I suspect they were not really that prominent until they were mandated in the code. That is a change from the current process, where they put things in the code before they exist.
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#202579 - 08/10/11 01:18 PM Re: Circuits and GFCI - 70s code [Re: switches]
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
Member
Registered: 01/22/05
Posts: 5305
Loc: Blue Collar Country
GFCI's were slow to be accepted. The opposition came froms a few different directions.

The first was scepticism over whether they really worked, or solved any problem that needed to be addressed. Politics played a role; already the "snub South Africa" movement was getting rolling, and the idea actually originated there. I remember the inventor going around with his daughter; they demonstrated the thing by dropping a plug-in radio into a bathtub with her in it.

There was also opposition from those who favored a different approach: low voltage. The low-voltage folks had just begun to see their products take off when the GFCI came on the scene.

The real debate that held things up was -no real surprise here- the debate regarding GFCI's on ungrounded circuits, perhaps as replacement devices. This brought into the fray all the grounde wire/ no ground wire, to rewire or not, older, smaller boxes, and the fuse vs. circuit breaker debate.

To be fair, the first 20 years of GFCI's featured plenty of unreliable models, and versions that were rather confusing to wire correctly.

It is also fair to say that there were plenty of appliances that leaked enough current to cause a GFCI to trip unnecessarily. Any kind of motor with brushes, any kind of arcing contact - even a low-voltage doorbell button - was likely to trip the GFCI. Plus, there were still plenty of products around (especially lights) that had the neutral bonded to the appliance case.
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