GFCI Question from an Oshawa Realtor

chesterfield home inspector

GFCI Question from a Realtor

We get a lot of phone calls from Realtors in Oshawa and the Durham Region asking us questions about defects written up by other inspectors. Recently we were asked if a kitchen receptacle needed to be replaced by a GFCI receptacle with the button. That was the recommendation by the buyers home inspector. It was closing day, and the buyers had realized that the seller had not yet replaced the receptacle. It’s usually impossible to answer these questions without visiting the property, but I was able to shed light on the situation.




A little bit about GFCI…

chesterfield home inspector

GFCI stands for ground fault circuit interrupter. They are also known as GFI’s which some have dubbed as meaning “good freaking idea.” Simply put, they can detect imbalances in the hot wire, and the neutral and shut off the circuit. This imbalance can occur when electricity flows through you instead of to the neutral. It provides protection for you and your family.  During a home inspection, inspectors try to ensure they are working by various means. As far as kitchens go, they have been required for kitchen receptacles since 1987.




Back to the issue at hand

The Realtor wanted to know if the receptacle in the kitchen needed to be replaced with the GFCI type with a button. If the house was built before 1971 it did not need GFCI protection. It is a good idea to upgrade the circuit, but not required. More importantly, the lack of button does not mean the receptacle is not GFCI protected. Every receptacle downstream of a GFCI device with the button, is protected as long as the home is wired properly. The device can be a breaker in the electrical panel, or a receptacle with the button.



The results

After a visit to the property, discussion with the builder, and review of the permits, it was determined that the receptacle in question was GFCI protected, and no further action was needed. This is the second time we have heard of home inspectors recommending GFCI protection for a receptacle that was already GFCI protected.


For your own home

Most manufacturers recommend testing your GFCI devices every month. They may be located in your electrical panel, outside, in the garage, in bathrooms, or kitchens. The best way for a homeowner to test them is to plug in a lamp, press the button, and ensure the lamp turns off. You should do this for all of the outlets in the mentioned areas.





Bateman Inspections
30 Sprucewood Cres, Bowmanville, Ont, L1C 5C6 (289) 979-7592
Providing home inspections in BowmanvilleOshawaAjaxPickering, Whitby, Courtice,
Peterborough, Lindsay, New Castle, Port Hope, Cobourg,
the entire Durham Region and beyond