Learning Experience

In yesterday’s plaintive whine I asked…

And why is it that this house has a GFCI outlet in the garage (next to the breaker panel) but none in the bathrooms?  I know that current code requires them in bathrooms, so I’m guessing that the old code didn’t when the house was built in 1986.  But if it didn’t require it in a bathroom, why would there be one in the garage?  If it’s required because there’s a water heater in the garage, then it would seem to have made more sense to put one in the outlet next to the water heater.  But no, that one doesn’t have a GFCI outlet.

The electrician just left and his visit was very informative.  When I told him that the outlets in the bathroom were out, the first thing he asked was when the house was built.  When I told him 1986 his next question was whether there was a GFCI outlet in the garage.  It turns out that for houses built at that time that the GFCI outlet in the garage also protects all the outlets in the bathrooms.  So the real source of all of my problems yesterday morning was that the GFCI outlet in the garage had tripped, which took out the outlets in the bathrooms as well as the the Verizon ONT.  Since the GFCI appeared to be original (which would make it 22 or 23 years old) he recommended replacement because they often start to trip on their own as they get old.

So I had him replace the GFCI.  It’s a treat to watch a professional at work, as he had the old one out and the new one installed so fast that the Verizon ONT didn’t even drop my Internet connection.  I have enough knowledge of electricity to change a breaker or an outlet, but I also have enough knowledge to know that I’d rather not if I don’t have to.  It would also have taken me three times longer, since I won’t work on a live circuit, and I would have had to trace down which breaker controlled the circuit before starting.


  1. Phelps says:

    Well, as the grandson of a master electrician, I can tell you that the main advantage they have when working with a live circuit is that they have been bitten so many times that they are deadened to it.  My grandfather has to grab (I mean really grab, whole hand) onto 120 to tell if it is live.  And he worked with a guy who could wire 600 volt commercial circuits barehanded.

  2. While I’ve been bitten a couple of times, I’m certainly not up to that level, nor do I want to be.  big surprise