GFCI – GFI protection can save your life

GFCI – GFI Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

A $20 Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI – GFI) could save your life. Don’t

GFCI receptacles and circuit breakers are designed to save lives by interrupting dangerous circuits
GFCI receptacle and circuit breaker

put it off any longer.

One of the most often listed defects found by home inspectors, building code officers and city occupancy officials is the lack off ground fault circuit interrupters or GFCI -GFI outlets and or breakers.

Where should you install GFCI outlets? 

GFCI protection is required for receptacles by the the 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC).  On all kitchen counter tops, in all bathrooms, laundry rooms, crawl spaces and unfinished areas of basements.  Also included are garages, hot tubs, swimming pools, sump pumps and sewage ejectors.  Outside the home they are required for outside receptacles, boat docks and out buildings.  These are just a few of the areas that require GFCI protection.

Owners of older homes can retrofit GFCI receptacles or install GFCI breakers.  The receptacles are about $20 retail and protect all outlets down stream.  GFCI Breakers are about $50 retail and will give protection to an entire circuit.  Portable adapters are available as well as protected extension cords from $20 to $50.

Installing A GFCI could save  your life

GFCI protection could prevent as many as two hundred deaths by electrocution every year.  As well as countless unnecessary burns and fires.  The GFCI was invented in 1961 and incorporated in the NEC starting in 1971.

  • 1971 Swimming pool and exterior receptacles
  • 1975 Bathroom receptacles
  • 1978 Garage receptacles
  • 1981 Spas and Hot Tubs
  • 1987 Kitchens, Hydro Tubs, Unfinished Basements and Boat houses
  • 1990 Crawl Spaces*
  • 1993 With in 6 feet of all Bathroom Sinks, Tubs and Showers
  • 2005 With in 6 feet of Laundry and Utility Sinks
  • 2014 GFCI and AFCI protection required for Kitchen and Laundry areas
  • 2014 Dishwashers*
  • 2017 Garage Door Operators*
  • 2017 Decks Balconies and Porches

*GFCI must be readily accessible: if  you have to move objects or use a ladder to reach the GFCI it is not considered to be readily accessible.  GFI breakers are suggested in these cases,

GFI protection is required around areas that may become wet

GFCI protection is required for receptacles in wet areas or areas that may be expected to become wet.  Prior to 2017 the NEC required GFI protection with in 6 feet of sinks this was changed in 2017 as show above.  Unfortunately a very small current flow can kill a person who is in contact with a grounding source.  Such as a kitchen sink, damp concrete or wet grass.

GFCI’s Trip at a 5 milliamp current leak

A GFI receptacle or breaker checks for a difference in the flow of electricity between the hot and neutral wires 30 to 40 times a second.  They will trip (disconnect) the circuit breaker or fuse if a difference of 5 milli amps (.005) is detected.  GFI’s trip at 5 milli amps, at 10 milli amps you will feel the shock.  At 25 milli amps you will not be able to let go.  Between 50 and 75 milli amps you may be electrocuted.  Therefore because some GFI receptacles or breakers can fail in the energized position it is recommended to test GFCI devices monthly.

Purpose of ground wires

The third wire in a modern residential circuit is the ground wire,  The ground wires purpose is to trip the breaker or fuse if a hot wire comes into contact with the metal housing of appliances or tools.  Grounding has been required since the mid 1960’s to prevent over heating of wiring. Grounding only works in the case of a direct short circuit that carries enough current to trip the breaker or fuse.  In other words GFI protection on the other hand is designed to protect humans from electrical shock by disconnecting at very low current flows.

Older Home Should Be Updated

In conclusion circuits installed in homes before the mid 1960’s probably do not have the protection of a grounding circuit.  The NEC allows the use of GFI protection on these circuits so three prong receptacles can be installed safely.  GFI protection on an older two wire circuit only protects humans from electrical shock.  It does not provide grounding.  Some appliances such as TV’s, computers, washing machines and dryers use the third wire to dissipate static electricity.  You should discuss adding grounded circuits for these items with your electrician.

Electrical work should only be done by qualified electricians.

To learn more about Hawley Home Inspections’ skilled team of professional home inspectors, call or email us today at:  Certified Master Inspector


314- 257-0040

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why have a home security system

a home security system can help prevent home burglaries
don’t be a victim of a home burglary

Why have a home security system. The dogdays of summer are here.

Did you know this is also the time of year when most residential burglaries occur?

According to the FBI, there were more than 1.2 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2018 (the last year for which we have complete data). That a burglary every 25 seconds. July and August are the busiest months for burglars.  Statistics show that more than 95 percent of burglaries involve break-in by force, such as by breaking a window or door lock and 59 percent of home burglaries occur during the day while residents are at work or at school. Homes with a lot of cover, like large bushes, trees, fences, and gardens, are more likely to be broken into.

Victims of burglaries suffered an estimated $3.4 billion in property losses in 2018—about $2,700 in property losses per burglary.

And those are just the thieves who get inside. Porch pirates steal about 1.7 million delivered packages every day according to a study by the New York Times. One in three Americans report having at least one package stolen from their front porch or stoop. And nicer neighborhoods see a higher number of these thefts than lower income neighborhoods do according to Nathan Richter, Senior Partner of Wakefield Research.

The U.S. Postal Service reports postal inspectors arrested almost 2,500 suspected package thieves in 2018. But those thefts add up to more than $25 million in stolen items every day—more than $9.1 billion a year, according to C+R Research. Nicer neighborhoods see a higher number of porch pirates than lower income neighborhoods do according to Nathan Richter, Senior Partner of Wakefield Research.

In many cases, a security system could prevent homes from becoming a part of these statistics. The National Council for Home Safety and Security says that homes without alarms are three times as likely to get burglarized. It’s also important to point out that residential burglaries have declined nearly 40% since 2014 according to the FBI, while the number of residential security
systems rose.

Security company window stickers and yard signs can deter crime. A comprehensive five-year study by researchers at the Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice found that residential burglar alarm systems decrease crime. According to the study, the presence of a home security system deters burglars from breaking into that home and acted as a deterrent for neighbors’ homes too. And a neighborhood or community with several homes that have security systems installed deterred burglars from the entire area.

The jury is still out as to whether Doorbell cameras stop thieves, but police say they can play a role in solving crimes. St. Louis County Police officer Tracy Panus told KMOV-TV these videos do help. “I think they are a fantastic investigative tool”, she said.  Vancouver Police Department spokeswoman Kim Kapp told Government Technology Magazine that doorbell camera videos have helped police investigating crimes including residential burglaries, package thefts, auto break-ins and vandalism.

According to data insights firm Strategy Analytics, global spending on doorbell cameras is expected to triple from $500 million in 2019 to $1.4 billion by 2023. These tiny electronic watchdogs monitor who come and goes. They offer video streaming and let you use your smart phone to chat with visitors, keep an eye on kids coming home from school, and watch for package deliveries. They can be tied to door locks and motion detectors and can be part of a professionally monitored home security system.

Nathan Stroup of Secure 24 specializes in working with new home buyers. Stroup says security systems today are highly customizable and come in all shapes, sizes, and price ranges.  Consumers have access to multiple DIY options as well as fully monitored and automated systems that can integrate with all a home’s other systems like heat and lighting. Stroup says it’s important to do a little homework to get the features that fit your needs and your budget, especially if you’re doing it yourself. “There’s just so much available today,” he said.

Working with a full-service security company can be very helpful according to Stroup. “There are dozens of features and hundreds of ways to configure a system,” Stroup said. “ADT clients can get everything from a basic system with motion detectors, door sensors, and doorbell cameras, to complex set ups with indoor and outdoor cameras, and smart home integration, and control it all using virtual assistants like Alexa,” he said.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, homeowners can see substantial savings on their insurance by installing anti-theft security systems. Monitored home security systems can lower a homeowner’s insurance premium by as much as 10-20 percent a year. Even adding a
camera doorbell can cut a home insurance policy rate by five percent or more.

Pat Howard at Policy Genius says even with the savings, “you probably shouldn’t get a home security system if the end goal is to make your homeowners insurance cheaper,.” You just don’t save enough to fully cover the costs. “However,” he said, “you should get a home security system if your goal is to make your home a safer place and prevent future theft claims down the


Secure 24 ADT Rep Nathan Stroup talks about evaluating a home’s security needs:

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