Author Topic: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property  (Read 967 times)

sagebrob

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GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« on: January 30, 2017, 09:27:19 PM »
I'm under contract on a new investment property and I just had it inspected.  There are no GFCI outlets in the kitchen but there are about 20 elsewhere in the home-bedrooms, hallways-all areas where they are not required to be.  In addition, the inspector said " only one of the outlets tested was okay-all others showed an "open neutral" or "bad ground".  Due to the number of GFCI outlets and locations, it is suspected that a lot of 2 conductor wiring s present and no ground wires are present" 

What do you make of this?  Cost to repair it?  Thanks

Sagebrob

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2017, 06:57:06 AM »
I'd replace ALL the GFCI outlets that are not near water with standard outlets.  Buy in bulk, about $1.10 each at the big box stores.   Lots of older homes built with two wire, not three wire.

For outlets near water, I'd have an electrician inspect the GFCIs.  There might be one bad switch that is causing issues to the others.

When was the house built?

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2017, 07:22:34 AM »
Only one outlet on each circut needs to be GFCI, IIRC. so it can be legal to tie a bathroom to another GFCI elsewhere in the house.

Not sure why they would put them everywhere though.... And they are only good for so many trips, so it may be a good idea to replace them.
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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2017, 09:17:38 AM »
First off... find one that tests with open neutral/ground and pull it out and look.

It's totally possible some less-than-perfect bubba installed these and just wired them wrong.  My workshop was missing ground on about 5 devices on the same circuit... each one badly wired in a different fashion.  I just had to go through them all and find the bad twists and missed connections.
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trammatic

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2017, 11:11:43 AM »
GFCIs can provide protection on an ungrounded circuit in case of a short....I'd leave them but check the wiring on the "bad" ones.

sagebrob

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2017, 09:49:23 PM »
Thanks everyone. Home was built in 1952. I'll get an electrician to look at it all when I close but it does seem like this could be a cheaper way to be safe on two wires than replacing all the wiring. Sounds like a rental;)


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sokoloff

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2017, 10:13:24 AM »
A GFCI can protect downstream outlets, even those connected with only two wire (hot and neutral).

You are allowed to install 3-prong grounded outlets without a ground downstream of a GFCI outlet. Such outlets should be labelled with both "GFCI protected" and "No equipment ground" stickers.

paddedhat

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2017, 08:13:53 AM »
Sokoloff is right. My guess is that a amateur electrician was attempting to address the fact that the house was wired with ungrounded  Romex, and didn't quite understand what he was doing. The other issue is the home inspector. Unsurprisingly, the inspector SHOULD of been aware of why he was finding a "no ground" reading on his tester. As for his claim that he stuck the typical plug in tester into an ungrounded circuit and got a reading of "open neutral", I seriously doubt it, If you have no neutral and an ungrounded circuit, you have no voltage to the outlet. There is the remote possibility that the outlets were wired with the hot wire on the proper terminal, and the neutral wire on the ground terminal, but this creates two issues. First, the  GFCI shouldn't function at all, as the internal electronics will prevent the thing from working, as it would be dangerous to do so. Second, even a plain outlet wired in this manner would fail to provide power to anything plugged in. Bottom line? you probably have minor electrical issues typical to a 60 year old house. It also sounds like you have typical home inspector who has enough knowledge to be dangerous, but no real understanding of electrical theory, or practice in the field.

 I recently "corrected" a bunch of small violations to a friend's home that was built in 1960. The buyer's inspector had a list of electrical issues. The problem was that the list was totally incorrect, citing a non-existent issue in the electrical panel, and multiple problems at individual outlets that we a result of the "professional inspector" not being able to operate, or understand a simple plug in outlet tester. IMHO, this incompetence on the part of "professional home inspectors" is far from unusual. A competent inspector should of been able to tell you, the customer, exactly what the issue is with your wiring, as it is extremely common, and how to correct it, without rewiring the house.

 A few years back I sold a 100 year old, solid masonry house. I knew that the buyer's inspector would generate a laundry list of issues, so I didn't address anything until the inspector stumbled through. He finds the ungrounded issue in 80% of the wall outlets. I knew that I needed to install GFCI breakers, replace outlets and label the cover plates. The buyer tells me that he won't be accepting that code approved upgrade, as the home inspector recommended that the home be "rewired". Following his inspector's advice, the buyer is demanding that I totally rewire the place. I laughed and told him to have his agent get his deposit back. As the agents are scrambling to save the deal, his asks why I would be unwilling to rewire the home? I asked if he was in my position, would he spend $20-25K to rewire the home on the recommendation of ANOTHER home inspector that doesn't know his ass from his ear, or would he kill the deal, and wait for another more rational buyer? The deal went through, LOL

« Last Edit: February 02, 2017, 08:26:22 AM by paddedhat »

Rightflyer

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2017, 07:37:39 AM »
Sokoloff is right. My guess is that a amateur electrician was attempting to address the fact that the house was wired with ungrounded  Romex, and didn't quite understand what he was doing. The other issue is the home inspector. Unsurprisingly, the inspector SHOULD of been aware of why he was finding a "no ground" reading on his tester. As for his claim that he stuck the typical plug in tester into an ungrounded circuit and got a reading of "open neutral", I seriously doubt it, If you have no neutral and an ungrounded circuit, you have no voltage to the outlet. There is the remote possibility that the outlets were wired with the hot wire on the proper terminal, and the neutral wire on the ground terminal, but this creates two issues. First, the  GFCI shouldn't function at all, as the internal electronics will prevent the thing from working, as it would be dangerous to do so. Second, even a plain outlet wired in this manner would fail to provide power to anything plugged in. Bottom line? you probably have minor electrical issues typical to a 60 year old house. It also sounds like you have typical home inspector who has enough knowledge to be dangerous, but no real understanding of electrical theory, or practice in the field.

 

Is that correct?

The neutral bus and the ground bus are tied together in the panel.

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paddedhat

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2017, 08:22:37 AM »
Yes, if you are to believe another clueless home inspector, it is correct. If I understand his claim, he is testing a circuit that has no legitimate grounding, which is quite common in older homes. He then claims that there is also an open neutral. On the same circuit, you can't have both. Now as defined as an electrical term, "open" simply means that a conductor has lost a connection, and is no longer providing a current carrying path. This can be from a multitude  of causes in a residential setting, loose connections at switches, breakers, or other terminations, wire nuts that fell apart, or a cable that was accidentally cut. So, in a simple circuit feeding an outlet you have the hot wire supplying current, it then returns to the panel on the neutral wire. If there is no ground, and the neutral is open, there is no current path, and no circuit, therefore the tester cannot read "open neutral" since it is powered by, and analyzes, a live circuit. 

Seriously, putting a lot of faith in the work product of a typical "professional home inspector" can lead to some pretty unhappy results. I nearly killed a deal recently when I got a thirty page report while reselling a custom home that I built for my family. It had at last 25 claimed defects. The issue? Well they are countless. The guy had a state license to do radon testing, but failed every best practice state and federal protocol when stumbling through the process at the home. He contaminated water samples before he sent them to the lab. He listed "violations" that were nothing but his delusional and incompetent OPINION on work that was completed according to strictly enforced  current IRC and NEC standards, and he made wild, libelous claims on topics he literally didn't have a fucking clue about.

Now that was the worst case I have seen in thirty years of dealing with home inspectors, but it was hardly unusual.  They tend to be particularly clueless when it comes to mechanical systems, with electrical being the worst offender.  It's either sad or funny, depending on how you view it, but while doing research I occasionally hit on one of the "professional home inspectors" forums, and just shake my head at some of the insane shit posted. It's nothing for a "professional member" of one of these forums to post a comment or question with their personal icon listing all their professional certifications, and how many years in the business, then proceed to ask a question, or make a declarative statement that makes it quite clear that they haven't got half of a clue. The best are the ones that totally misunderstand how a correct detail, or technique looks, then brag like some mall cop that they, "have been flagging this violation for years". Nice job, dumbass. Create issues, with buyers, sellers and agents based on non-existent issues that you believe are a problem. It gets to the point that service plumbers, HVAC and electricians, can identify inspectors based on the stupid crap they are telling their clients. For example, I got flagged for a non-existent safety issue with a water heater P&T valve. I asked a local service plumber about it, and he replied, "is this about that asshole home inspector from the next town over?"

It's enough to make your head hurt.

Dicey

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2017, 09:25:02 AM »
^^ALL of this, in spades.^^

We tend to use home inspectors on our rental properties, because they are not close to home. We take all of their reports with a giant block of salt. Frankly, it is most useful as a negotiating tool with the seller.

When we bought our primary home, which was a custom-built eight-year-old house, DH did all the inspections. The realtor went nuts, but we couldn't see wasting the money.

A lot of what goes into those reports is fancy filler designed to make the inexperienced buyer feel good about the money they wasted, invested spent on the inspection.

And don't get me started on those Home Warranties...
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paddedhat

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2017, 01:39:40 PM »
^^ALL of this, in spades.^^

We tend to use home inspectors on our rental properties, because they are not close to home. We take all of their reports with a giant block of salt. Frankly, it is most useful as a negotiating tool with the seller.

When we bought our primary home, which was a custom-built eight-year-old house, DH did all the inspections. The realtor went nuts, but we couldn't see wasting the money.

A lot of what goes into those reports is fancy filler designed to make the inexperienced buyer feel good about the money they wasted, invested spent on the inspection.

And don't get me started on those Home Warranties...

This is interesting. A lot of these clowns can produce a cut-n-paste document that can run 20-30 pages and says essentially nothing, which combined with their vast collection of weasel clauses and other liability limits agreed to by the end user, pretty much means that the customer is paying $400 on up, for nothing.

I ran into an odd situation a few months ago. We bought a home, unseen, and a thousand miles away. I knew from the video walk through that there was a 95% chance that the place was structurally sound, and a good buy. However, to protect myself I made an inspection part of the agreement, and qualified that with a $5K lower limit on cost to correct found deficiencies. In order to lend legal credibility to the inspection, I actually needed a home inspector to accompany me. I asked my realtor to give me the name of the most legitimate one she knew, and she found me a great one. Basically the guy is a consulting engineer who does all kinds of work including inspections. We agreed to do the job for cash, and no paperwork unless we found a major issue. After we both ripped through the place and found nothing significant, I asked my realtor if that's her main go to guy?  She told me that he is a tough sell to a lot of her customers. She deals with a lot of Millennials and first time buyers. This guy is about as straight up as it gets, and knows his business inside and out. However, he does not believe in giving the customer twenty pages of useless horseshit, and cut-n-paste stock descriptions of every little item. He wants the buyer by his side, and he points out all the good and bad about the property, then provides a few pages of a synopsis of their inspection tour. This does not go over well with the millennial crowd. They look at his reviews on different social media and determine that the lack of a thick, useless document full of weasel language and bullshit indicates that they are not getting enough value for the cost of the work.

 Apparently having somebody hold your hand, and walk you through your potential new home, while excruciating inspecting everything from structure to ascetics is NOT as desirable as staying at work while a "professional" stumbles though alone, and generates a whole pile of valueless but impressive looking and wordy bullshit.................Gotta' love it, EH?

Dicey

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Re: GFCI Weirdness on new rental property
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2017, 11:02:43 PM »
^^ALL of this, in spades.^^

We tend to use home inspectors on our rental properties, because they are not close to home. We take all of their reports with a giant block of salt. Frankly, it is most useful as a negotiating tool with the seller.

When we bought our primary home, which was a custom-built eight-year-old house, DH did all the inspections. The realtor went nuts, but we couldn't see wasting the money.

A lot of what goes into those reports is fancy filler designed to make the inexperienced buyer feel good about the money they wasted, invested spent on the inspection.

And don't get me started on those Home Warranties...

This is interesting. A lot of these clowns can produce a cut-n-paste document that can run 20-30 pages and says essentially nothing, which combined with their vast collection of weasel clauses and other liability limits agreed to by the end user, pretty much means that the customer is paying $400 on up, for nothing.

I ran into an odd situation a few months ago. We bought a home, unseen, and a thousand miles away. I knew from the video walk through that there was a 95% chance that the place was structurally sound, and a good buy. However, to protect myself I made an inspection part of the agreement, and qualified that with a $5K lower limit on cost to correct found deficiencies. In order to lend legal credibility to the inspection, I actually needed a home inspector to accompany me. I asked my realtor to give me the name of the most legitimate one she knew, and she found me a great one. Basically the guy is a consulting engineer who does all kinds of work including inspections. We agreed to do the job for cash, and no paperwork unless we found a major issue. After we both ripped through the place and found nothing significant, I asked my realtor if that's her main go to guy?  She told me that he is a tough sell to a lot of her customers. She deals with a lot of Millennials and first time buyers. This guy is about as straight up as it gets, and knows his business inside and out. However, he does not believe in giving the customer twenty pages of useless horseshit, and cut-n-paste stock descriptions of every little item. He wants the buyer by his side, and he points out all the good and bad about the property, then provides a few pages of a synopsis of their inspection tour. This does not go over well with the millennial crowd. They look at his reviews on different social media and determine that the lack of a thick, useless document full of weasel language and bullshit indicates that they are not getting enough value for the cost of the work.

 Apparently having somebody hold your hand, and walk you through your potential new home, while excruciating inspecting everything from structure to ascetics is NOT as desirable as staying at work while a "professional" stumbles though alone, and generates a whole pile of valueless but impressive looking and wordy bullshit.................Gotta' love it, EH?
Exactly. Good story, BTW.
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