Author Topic: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...  (Read 2016 times)

cdgreg

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GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« on: July 07, 2017, 06:35:18 PM »
When we moved into our house a couple years ago, all of the switches and outlets, including the 6 GFCI's in the kitchen were painted over, the same color as the wall.  Since they all still worked, we didn't really worry too much about it.  Well, as of this week, we re-painted the kitchen, so now we have previously painted outlets that do not match the wall color! 

Question: I am not concerned about the cost to replace the standard outlets, switches, or face plates, but I am cringing at the thought of replacing 6 GFCI breaker outlets because of the paint.  Can I safely disconnect them from the wall, scrub the paint off with some form of solvent, let it dry, and re-install? 

If not, the cheapest brand name ones I can find are about $12-14 each.  But there are some knock off brand that come with the faceplate for $7 here: https://www.homelectrical.com/20-amp-gfci-receptacle-outlet-w-led-ivory.gp-dg20iib.1.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjw4vzKBRCtARIsAM3l8OCKoccd47Je2LKAdsJOdHatpGJ4RBx_7rhb-1Dwdmj1Dz52-Yni9WEaAqvyEALw_wcB

What would you do?  1. try to clean them and reinstall, 2. replace with brand name, 3. replace with cheap generics?

Thanks!

ixtap

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2017, 06:46:44 PM »
Does the paint flake off? Latex will usually peel or flake off plastic. If so, get a good stiff plastic brush, hold the outlets upside down, so that the debris falls off, and not into the connectors, and scrub away. Vacuum thoroughly before reinstalling.

Cranky

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2017, 05:09:49 AM »
I just had the electrician to my house to check something out (long story, everything was fine) and he said that it's not safe to paint over outlets and that it violates code, and he replaced the one that had been painted over.

So, I have no way of knowing how true this is or how dangerous, but I think I'd start replacing those outlets!

sokoloff

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2017, 06:36:00 AM »
You can use a GFCI outlet to protect other (regular) outlets downstream. Hook the GFCI to "line" terminals and the rest of the downstream outlets to the "load" terminals if they're all wired in series.

If you wire it this way, you only need to buy one GFCI outlet.

Alternately, you could buy one GFCI circuit breaker and protect the whole string of regular outlets that way (though that's not likely to save much money).

I'd pull the existing outlets and see if you can suss out how they're wired. If there is a place to install a GFCI and protect several downstream outlets, do that. This may require you to understand reverse engineer how the electrical was run and is slightly (but only slightly) more complex than just noting where every wire came from and putting it back the same way on the new devices.

Carefully painted outlets wouldn't bother me, but I also wouldn't paint the new ones, mostly because they end up getting scratched and looking like crap if they get actual use (and in a kitchen, they do).

There are cheap, builder grade outlets. I would go one step above the cheapest range. You don't need to pay $12/outlet for the hospital grade outlets, but I don't like the very cheapest $0.40/outlet ones, particularly for a kitchen where a lot of plug/unplug cycles happen and some high amperage (heater, microwave, blender) loads are used.

paddedhat

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2017, 06:21:57 PM »
Sokoloff is right, you probably have no need for six GFCIs in the kitchen, since it's probably has one, or two circuits feeding all the countertop outlets. That said, who knows what you might find out there. I once had a code inspector who decided that the code said that you need a countertop outlet every two feet or less, and that every outlet needed to be a GFCI. The fact that he didn't know his ass from his ear was of no concern to him, and he certainly created one heck of an expensive wiring job in the kitchen. Looked pretty silly too, like a showroom display of GFCI receptacles, LOL. The electrician who claims that you need to replace outlets that get paint on them is entertaining. I would love to see that code section in print.

SwordGuy

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2017, 08:05:04 PM »
You can use a GFCI outlet to protect other (regular) outlets downstream. Hook the GFCI to "line" terminals and the rest of the downstream outlets to the "load" terminals if they're all wired in series.

If you wire it this way, you only need to buy one GFCI outlet.

You are assuming that all the kitchen outlets are on the same circuit.   I would **NEVER** make that assumption.   You have to test for that.

Ditto for the bathroom outlets.

Depending on the type of paint used, it will probably be pretty easy to remove it.

sokoloff

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2017, 08:25:05 PM »
You can use a GFCI outlet to protect other (regular) outlets downstream. Hook the GFCI to "line" terminals and the rest of the downstream outlets to the "load" terminals if they're all wired in series.

If you wire it this way, you only need to buy one GFCI outlet.
You are assuming that all the kitchen outlets are on the same circuit.   I would **NEVER** make that assumption.   You have to test for that.
I made no such assumption; I stated how GFCI outlets worked and with respect to OP's kitchen wiring, that's why I said:
If there is a place to install a GFCI and protect several downstream outlets, do that. This may require you to understand reverse engineer how the electrical was run and is slightly (but only slightly) more complex than just noting where every wire came from and putting it back the same way on the new devices.

Sibley

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2017, 01:21:20 PM »
I've removed paint from outlets before. Oil, latex, acrylic, and a combo. In the long run, it's easier to replace them, especially since they don't have an indefinite life.

bobechs

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2017, 02:51:35 PM »
Leave them soaking in a laundry detergent solution for several days and the latex paint will be much easier to peel off.

Getting the very last traces of paint out of the recesses will be a pain on the ass, especially for the borderline obsessive.

Don't do that; give them a quick coat of cheap spraycan enamel in a neutral color.  Yes, you just painted over them.

Don't let the shame get to you.

LDoon

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2017, 03:56:29 PM »
I've removed paint from outlets still in the wall.  Try using Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.  Minimal moisture involved, so no safety issue and removes a lot of different things.  If it works, should be a few minutes of work to have all 6 paint free.

dragoncar

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #10 on: July 13, 2017, 07:59:13 PM »
I once bought a GFCI from ebay for like $2.  When it arrived from China, I realized it was probably a bad idea tested it.  Fail.  It even had a fake UL logo

jfolsen

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Re: GFCI Outlets were all previously painted over...
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2017, 08:25:35 PM »
I would cringe, and then replace them. They are a safety feature. This is not where I would cut corners. Replace with a known product.