Discussion in 'The Projects Forum' started by aac9876, Jul 5, 2008.
how common is it for an ac gfi outlet,120,kitchen area, to actually go bad and need to be replaced??
Fairly common, unfortunately.
The good ones will simply fail to put out any juice when they go bad. The cheap ones will still "work," but will offer zero protection.
I had to replace GFCI outlets every couple of years in our former residence; they'd just die. I've had one or two die here at the new place over the last 5 years or so.
Wow, now this is scary. I caught hell all last week over on another forum about my clothes dryer on the back porch, and lack of GFI protection. The dryer gets wet when it rains (don't use it then), sits on a bare concrete slab, never gotten even a tingle off it. Worst is the static shocks in the winter. Anyway, the outlet box caught on fire little over a week ago, and had to replace it and the dryer's power cord. The new cord was long enough to move the outlet inside the house, so should get wet and burn again.
Strange thing was that I wired this up myself about 14 years ago, with no clue about 220, other then it's really unpleasant. I used two hots and a ground off the buss, no neutral (like the water heater and kitchen stove), didn't understand it, but it worked. It's been out there through hurricanes, and catches fire during a very light drizzle... Never know about these things.
Would never have guess there was such a high rate of failure in GFI protection from what I was being told. Kind of glad I just kept with the old wiring, and rely on my deep respect of things that shock. Seems like kind of a false sense of security, kind of like seatbelts in cars. Might reduce injury, or save your life, but no excuse to be reckless, because it most likely will have no effect at all...
Well, you CAN get reliable GFCI equipment. GFCI circuit breakers that go in the electrical panel.
One big objection to the GFCI breakers is that they are far more expensive than the GFCI outlets. There's also the "convenience factor" of having the test/reset buttons and indicator right at the outlet.
With your dryer hook-up, you didn't have a neutral line, nor was it really needed - just L1, L2 and ground for the chassis. If L1 or L2 shorted to ground, the breaker would've tripped. But, it's reall not a good idea to have such appliances (and power connections) set up outdoors. There ARE receptacles/covers that are approved for outdoor use, but they're expensive. Yours probably got corroded with the exposure to the weather, and overheated due to the high resistance connection.
GFCI equipment has improved greatly in the past decade. Newer GFCI outlets will not provide any power if they are hooked up wrong, or if they eventually fail. Many include a convenient LED to show when they are working.
Also, the price of GFCI breakers is now almost as low as that of GFCI outlets.
Very interesting - last time I checked at the big orange hardware store (several years ago), they wanted around $45 for a 15A Square D GFCI breaker for a QO load center. Guess I'll have to check next time I'm at a hardware store.
Just remembered I could check prices online.
QO, 20 Amp Single Pole Ground Fault Circuit Breaker Model 52232, $57.72
But, this is good quality stuff. They regularly test their products to orders of magnitude higher than the ratings, to see what might break, and how they can improve them. I toured the Lexington KY plant quite a while back; they had an impressive operation going on there..
I'd be upset if a $45 breaker failed in just a couple of years. My whole fire damage repair cost me $31.68. Oh well, I guess for some, peace of mind is priceless...
Breakers can also be more intimidating to change out than outlets. The only real advantage I can think of for using a GFCI breaker instead of a GFCI outlet is the certainty of getting the whole circuit protected. The outlet will only protect from ground faults from it's own location outward - and then only if connected to do so.