I often find other electrical problems when GFI receptacles do more than they are supposed to do.
Why would that be?
Because an improperly-wired GFI receptacle indicates unprofessional work.
And in houses that have been substantially remodeled, there is usually unprofessional work.
UNPROFESSIONAL WORK IN ONE PLACE WILL IS THE TIP OFF TO UNPROFESSIONAL WORK ELSEWHERE. AND IF WIRING, OR PLUMBING, OR SOMETHING ELSE THAT I CAN SEE IS A PROBLEM, I ESPECIALLY WORRY ABOUT WHAT I CAN'T SEE.
Like Uncle Martin on the TV show "My Favorite Martian" (my favorite TV show in fourth grade), I have antenna that go up when something impresses me on a home inspection.
My antenna have been known to poke builders in the eyes. And sellers, and Realtors, and others...
A GFI receptacle - AKA GFCI - is a "Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter." The GFI receptacle, or circuit breaker, is a safety device. It is intended to prevent people from electrical shock.
In a GFI receptacle the neutral slot is the larger one on the left. The hot is the smaller right slot. When things are properly wired, electricity flows from hot to neutral.
The GFI device is constantly monitoring that flow. If there is any imbalance or interruption, even as small as 4 or 5 milliamps, the device will shut off the receptacle, and anything else wired to it. And if working right it can shut things off in as little as 1/30th of a second.
On a home inspection I test every one. I tripped this one. You can see that the little green light is off. It is located beside the lower ground hole on the lower outlet.
When I did the fridge turned off!
The fridge is not supposed to turn off when the GFI is tripped.
Similarly, when the other GFI in the kitchen was tripped, the dishwasher turned off!
And, not surprisingly, when the GFI in the newly-remodeled bathroom was tripped, the lights and fan turned off!
While consistency is important, in this case it indicates a consistent lack of understanding of electrical wiring.
AND THEREFORE THE JOB WAS NOT DONE BY AN ELECTRICAL PROFESSIONAL. THEREFORE THERE WAS NO PERMIT FOR THE WORK.
In this case the fridge, dishwasher and bathroom lights and fan should not be controlled by a GFI receptacle, or that circuit. These other appliances or fixtures should be dedicated or independent.
My recommendation: home inspectors have antenna! Really. It's true. They will look, and sniff, and test and evaluate, especially when a home is touted to be "newly remodeled!" And any opinion or finding by your home inspector will be objective.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560