More Blog Posts on Similar Subjects:

  1. Why do some breakers in my electric panel have a "TEST" button on them?

  2. I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. Do you check for it?

  3. How do the new tamper-resistant electric receptacles work?

  4. What is a ground wire?

  5. Is the electric panel big enough for this house?

  6. How far apart should the electrical receptacles be placed?

  7. When should I replace my smoke alarms?

  8. My circuit breaker won’t reset. What’s wrong?

  9. The electric panel is marked “Trilliant” and it’s all grey plastic. Is it alright?

  10. What is a three-way switch?

  11. How come my generator hookup got tagged as defective by the home inspector?

  12. What is a “missing twistout” at an electric panel?

  13. What is an “open junction box”?

  14. Why does the bedroom have a light switch but there is no light in the ceiling?

  15. How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be placed?

  16. How can I figure out what a mystery wall switch does?

  17. What are those strange looking wall switches in houses from the 1950s and 1960s?

  18. Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle?

  19. Will the electric company remove branches rubbing against the overhead service lines to my home?

  20. Why are Zinsco and Sylvania-Zinsco electric panels a problem?

  21. How can adding wood paneling or a wainscot create an electrical safety hazard?

  22. What are the most common electrical defects found in a home inspection?

  23. What is an open electrical splice?

  24. Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?

  25. What does it mean when a wire is “overstripped” at a circuit breaker?

  26. What is the difference between “grounded” and “grounding” electrical conductors?

  27. What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?

  28. How can I tell if a receptacle/outlet is tamper resistant?

  29. What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)?

  30. Will a GFCI receptacle that is not grounded still function properly?

  31. Does a home inspector remove the electric panel cover plate and examine the inside of the panel?

  32. Can an electric panel be located over stairs?

  33. Is a house required to have outdoor electric receptacles?

  34. What are the code requirements for NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable or Romex®) in an attic?

  35. How can I change a 240V circuit to a 120V circuit?

  36. Can old electrical wiring go bad inside a wall?

  37. Why does painting an electric receptacle (outlet) make it unsafe?

  38. Why are old electric components not always “grandfathered” as acceptable by home inspectors?

  39. When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?

  40. What causes flickering or blinking lights in a house?

  41. Why are some electric receptacles/outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?

  42. Why is undersize electric wiring in a house dangerous?

  43. Why is a fuse box an insurance problem for homebuyers?

  44. What is a “backstab” receptacle outlet?

  45. What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) not protect against?

  46. What are the right words for talking about a house electrical system?

  47. What does “listed” and “labeled” mean for an electrical component?

  48. What does it mean when I find buried yellow "CAUTION" tape when digging a hole in the yard?

  49. How can I tell if the electrical service is 3 phase or single phase?

  50. What is the building code requirement for receptacle outlets at stairs and stair landings?

  51. Can a home surge protector be installed loose in the bottom of an electric panel box?

  52. When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

  53. Should I buy a house near a high-voltage power line?

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Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

   GFCI’s serve a different purpose than the circuit breakers in the electric panel of the home, which shut off the electricity to a circuit when too much electricity is flowing through the wires. Their primary purpose is protection from an electrical fire caused by a surge of current flow above the allowable rating for the wires in the circuit.

   GFCI’s are now required by all national building codes to protect circuits in the wet areas of home, such receptacles in the exterior, garage, laundry, kitchen, spa tub, swimming pool, and bathrooms. The requirement was phased in gradually, starting in the 1970s, with just the bathroom, swimming pool, and exterior receptacles needing GFCI-protection initially. The chart below, courtesy of Jerry Peck,  shows how the requirements were expanded every few years since then.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
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