a.girl.named.maxNovember 21, 2010

I am new to this forum and need some expert advice.

I am doing an extensive rehab on my home near Minneapolis, MN. I have an extremely limited budget. The house is a very basic split entry (bi-level) built in 1970.

I have 5 outlets within 6 feet of a water source. I've been told I need to convert these to GFCIs. The estimates I've received are coming in at approximately $1,000 for changing the 5 outlets. I had no idea it would be this expensive.

In the past I have changed outlets, switches, installed light fixtures, dimmer switches, and a ceiling fan.

Is changing the outlet to GFCI a reasonable DIYer project?

Thanks so much for your input!

A girl named "Max"

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You'll need a GFCI outlet for each circuit involved, but otherwise, it's not much more complicated than changing a regular outlet. Each one will cost about $10 to $15. Depending on the style or model, you may have to purchase new cover plates as well. Even if you have to replace all 5, if you provide the labor, the parts shouldn't cost more than $100. Turn off the circuit breaker before beginning and follow the instructions in the package. This is definitely one of the easier DIY projects.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 11:36AM
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Ron Natalie

As to whether you actually need the GFCI's you haven't given enough information. Minnesota follows the 2008 NEC and while it's possible it has some local addition "within six feet of water source" is NOT part of the code. There are places where GFCI is required unconditionally (outside, garages, unfinished basements, bathrooms, kitchen counters) and a few places where you have sinks in laundry, utility, or wet bars where the six foot rule comes into play.

A GFCI is as pointed out as easy to put in as any other receptacle. You'll need a "decora" style face plate for inside installations. Outside, you probably also have older style covers for the receptacle that will need to be replaced with the "in use" style covers.

As pointed out, the whole thing shouldn't cost you more than about $15 for the parts for inside and maybe $25 for exterior (owing to the price of the cover). The work is quite within your skill set.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 12:20PM
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In order to answer your question, it really requires more information. Like, is there anything wrong with the existing wiring which requires any additional labor? Maybe your 1970 house has aluminum wiring, or maybe the electrician was planning on running some new circuits to bring the house up to code. If any of the circuits in question were in the kitchen, it might be wise to bring them up to code. I would ask them why their quote was so high. They may tell you something that you didn't realize was a problem.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 12:27PM
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The outlets are located:
One in full bath
One in 3/4 bath
One in laundry area
Two in kitchen

According to the building officials the electric is up to code with the exception of the GFCIs.

Any advice on the type of GFCI?

I am going to hire a GC for most of the work instead of trying to act as my own GC. Getting estimates and hiring a GC is proving to be quite an experience. Example... I am also having new siding installed. One GC estimated 16 squares and other one estimated 25 squares. Two GCs never even measured.

The people on this forum are awesome! The money I save on the electrical will hopefully go toward a modest kitchen remodel I hope to squeeze into the budget.

Thank you so very much!


    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 1:10PM
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Ron Natalie

Yes, all those places require GFCI. Just go down to the home center and buy whatever they have. They come in the usual colors (white, ivory, gray, brown) don't forget the switchplates.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 1:51PM
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... it's an easy DIY project until you run into that overpacked 1940s metal box that's barely big enough for the existing outlet, let alone the deeper gfci.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 4:28PM
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Home Depot sells the 15 Amp GFCI receptacles in a 3 pack for much less than buying them individually. They are by Leviton.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 5:33PM
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Home Depot & Lowes sells the three pack for around $30.00, they also come with the covers and detailed instructions.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 5:43PM
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Max- Might I also suggest you buy the book, "The complete guide to home wiring" by Black and Decker. Read it through. It will help you understand some basic wiring principles as well as gives plenty of photos, in case you are a visual learner.

I bought one when I bought my old house 6 years ago, and it's now tattered and torn, as I'm involved in a complete rewire of my entire house to rid it of it's knob and tube (insurance company requirement). This book has been pretty handy!

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   November 21, 2010 at 8:17PM
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oldhousegal ...

Last night I bought the book you recommended (4th edition complete with DVD.) It's an excellent resource for lots of wiring projects I will encounter. Undercabinet lighting, motion detector outdoor lighting, rewiring lamps and so much more.

I feel much more confident about moving forward with installing the GFCI receptacles.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 9:16AM
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