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Old 10-12-2012, 05:47 AM   #1
LuciferMutt OP
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Are washing machines supposed plug into a GFIC and other wiring questions

I'm replacing a bunch of ancient, worn out, loose plug recepticles in my house and started in the garage. I have an odd mix of aluminum and copper wiring in this house that is confusing the hell out of me, but that's really another thread. I am making sure to use recepticles that are rated for both aluminum or copper and tightening the fuck out of the connection screws. In any case, I moved into the untility room and the only 120VAC outlet in there is for the washing machine (we don't have a washer at the moment).

There are a few things going on here that have me a little bit confused:

1) this outlet is directly across the wall from an outlet in the garage. They are both on the same breaker circuit which is a 20 amp in the panel but nothing else is on this circuit.

2.) The feeder wires for the washer outlet are aluminum, and then copper wires go off the second set of screws on that recepticle to the outlet in the garage. The outlet in the garage was a 15 amp (and I replaced it with such because I'm matching what was there for the time being) and the outlet for the washer was a 20 amp. All the other outlets in the garage (two more) are on a seperate circuit which is copper wiring, at least where I see it at the recepticles.

3.) the ground wire for the outlet in the garage was not connected to anything where it came into the washer outlet box, but the ground connection on the washer outlet was a short piece of bare aluminum connected to the electrical box chassis? I connected both ground wires (the wire from the garage outlet and the aluminum wire from the box chassis) to the ground connection on the new washer outlet. A recepticle analyzer is showing correct connections and a properly functioning outlet.

RE#1: Is it safe to have two outlets running on a 20 amp circuit for the washer? I plug my battery tender and occasionally my small 4 gallon air compressor (12 amp draw) into this oulet (the one in the garage), though I can move the air compressor.

RE#2: Am I to assume that the outlet in the garage was home owner installed? It's not at the usuall floor level and the box was badly mounted with a crooked nail. Also, why a 15 amp recepticle on this 20 amp circuit? Should both be 20 amp outlets? (assuming, by question 1 it is safe to do so) I also assume, since I'm using the correct rated recepticles, it is safe for both aluminum and copper wiring to be attached to the same recepticle on their own respective screws?

RE#3: WTF is with this ground? ANd lastly, is the washer supposed to have a GFIC plug instead of the regular 20 amp I used?
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:34 AM   #2
D.T.
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www.mikeholt.com

Start studying or

call an electrician or

buy a new house...
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:55 AM   #3
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Hoo Boy. I'm guessing your house is pretty old, especially since it has aluminum wiring in it.

I just replaced our washer & dryer and here's what I have observed in my townhouse (built in 2000): Our laundry room has two outlets, one is GFCI other other is not. They are both on the same circuit. The outlet for the washer/dryer is not the GFCI (it's on the same wall as the water supply & washer drain). I would have to take the panel cover off to determine how many amps the circuit is but I'm thinking it's 20A. I had to operate both units off of the GFCI (because my wife had to run a load of chair covers - she runs an event planning business) and had no trouble. I think the GFCI is intended for an iron.

As for some of your Qs: Grounding the outlets to the box or conduit is perfectly fine. If there is no ground wire, this is a safe way to get electricity back to the panel (which is grounded).

1) If you run the washer/dryer while running the compressor, you may pop the breaker. It might be better to move the compressor to another outlet.

2) I think you are probably safe in assuming that the piggy-back garage outlet was installed by a p.o. I would change the receptacle to 20A. Or, remove that outlet altogether if it doesn't inconvenience you too much.

3) Based on more recent construction (my house), no, the washer does not need a GFCI.

HTH
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Old 10-12-2012, 07:58 AM   #4
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What you are dealing with is what is current code and what is safe. Most of this is common sense. Like no compressor while using the washer, (overload) but it is pretty safe to use the outlet in the garage when the washer is not in use. (except for the aluminum wire)

Also, you should Google "Aluminum/copper wire pigtail" there is more to it than just a good tightening of the screw. This is a critical safety item. Our area requires "certified" electricians perform this upgrade to the whole house.

Maybe a little study on what a GFCI does vs what grounding is too .


Quote:
Originally Posted by LuciferMutt View Post
RE#1: Is it safe to have two outlets running on a 20 amp circuit for the washer?Yes and NO. Utility plugs are suppose to be dedicated (ONLY) for the washer/dryer circuits. The previous homeowner did the added plug. Your ground attachment sounds acceptable. I plug my battery tender OK and occasionally my small 4 gallon air compressor (12 amp draw) into this oulet (the one in the garage), though I can move the air compressor. NO NO when washer is being used.

RE#2: Am I to assume that the outlet in the garage was home owner installed?Yes It's not at the usuall floor level and the box was badly mounted with a crooked nail. Also, why a 15 amp recepticle on this 20 amp circuit? Should both be 20 amp outlets? Not necessary.. Look up NEMA configurations. As long as you de-rate to 15 you're ok.(assuming, by question 1 it is safe to do so) I also assume, since I'm using the correct rated recepticles, it is safe for both aluminum and copper wiring to be attached to the same recepticle on their own respective screws? No, See pigtailing.

RE#3: WTF is with this ground? ANd lastly, is the washer supposed to have a GFIC plug instead of the regular 20 amp I used?
GFCI's have to be used in certain locations by code. Garages, outdoors, kitchens, bathrooms, and utility rooms are required GFCI locations. To my knowledge the dedicated washer outlet does not have to be GFCI .(I don't keep up on current code though) but a utility sink next to the washer has to be GFCI.. Make sure you have a good ground on the washer though. The garage outlet that was installed is supposed to be GFCI.
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:41 AM   #5
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Thanks for the info. I think I'm going to completely remove the PO installed outlet in the garage and plug the tender in elsewhere.

By doing so, this eliminates any alunminum and copper wires on the same fixture and puts the washer outlet on its own branch like it was supposed to be. In case anyone is confused, all new fixtures I used are rated for BOTH copper and aluminum and have the aluminum screws on them.

The only thing I need to discover now is where the copper wiring to the other outlets in the garage connects to the old aluminum -- probably the outlet in the living room on the other side of the wall. This will be the next thing to check and make sure is the correct rated outlet. Question for this -- the receptacles have two sets of screws. If they are the correct CO/ALR rated receptacle, can't I have the alum. wires going to one set of screws and the copper wire going to the other set of screws? Then the copper is not physically touching the aluminum and both wires are properly secured. I don't see how this could cause resistance problems?
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Old 10-12-2012, 08:51 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bronco638 View Post
I would have to take the panel cover off to determine how many amps the circuit is but I'm thinking it's 20A.
I am not an electrician but I routinely have a need to pigtail into strange boxes. You should be able to tell by looking at the breaker. It will usually say 15 or 20 on the end of the switch. 20 amp is often a little thicker too.
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:01 AM   #7
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If you have aluminum wiring invest in several good smoke detectors, and never sleep in the buff as you may have to flee the house.

Personally, I would never buy a house with aluminum wiring, and if I had it I would have it all replaced. It is not good.

At a minimum every connection needs to be checked and tightened.

Rod
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Old 10-12-2012, 09:21 AM   #8
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The feed into (most)panels is aluminum wire.

Aluminum is not the problem, per se.

Simply changing the amperage of a breaker, up or down,does not guarantee appropriate protection for the circuit; the AWG must match accordingly i.e; 12/2 or 14/2, etc.

As far as GFCI protection(wet location), everything downstream from a GFCI receptacle is thusly protected. Redundant installation can interfere with that.

Arc fault protection may be more appropriate to your needs.


Disclaimer: I am not a pro electrician, but am in the industry. Your local codes prevail.
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:14 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by ragtoplvr View Post
If you have aluminum wiring invest in several good smoke detectors, and never sleep in the buff as you may have to flee the house.

Personally, I would never buy a house with aluminum wiring, and if I had it I would have it all replaced. It is not good.

At a minimum every connection needs to be checked and tightened.

Rod
You do realize that all the lines on the poles and, the wire from the pole to your house is aluminum?

There are millions of houses with aluminum wiring that never have problems.
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:29 AM   #10
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In the 23 years at my house I have lost the ground once, and a phase once, aluminum connections made by the utility company, using special utility company splices and special high dollar crimper off their transformer out on the pole. . . Wires were badly burned both times. I check the entry into my house every few years. I replaced one of those connections that showed signs of being warm

My trailer on the lake was aluminum, we went and tightened everything, every presidential election year. We sold it about 10 years ago. It burned down 2 years ago. No one home. I do not know why, but I suspect

Do what you want, I personally avoid aluminum. And you do not know the quality of the original wire job. Copper is sort of forgiving. Aluminum not so much. I would go thru everything, to make sure.

Rod
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Old 10-12-2012, 10:45 AM   #11
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A little off topic...When I sold my last house last fall, I had aluminum wiring and I had to have a electrician come in and pigtail copper terminals onto every single freaking outlet, switch and fixture in the house. Then had to have the provincial electrical inspector sign off on the work. This was a few days before closing.....I learned a lot about wiring in a short time!

The electrician found one terminal in the whole house that showed any sign of burning and that was the single outlet in the garage where I ran power tools.

Cost under $1000.00 but the buyer's bank would not approve their financing unless it was signed off by the Electrical inspector. The rules had changed since I originally bought it.


The Electrical inspector told me that you're better off having him come in to inspect a house before purchase rather than a regular home inspector.

I would get an electrician to come in and inspect it.
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Old 10-15-2012, 07:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweaker
I am not an electrician but I routinely have a need to pigtail into strange boxes. You should be able to tell by looking at the breaker. It will usually say 15 or 20 on the end of the switch. 20 amp is often a little thicker too.
You are correct, thanks. And, I checked, it is 20A.
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Old 10-16-2012, 09:45 AM   #13
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as an electrical contractor the best way to handle aluminum wiring in your home is to pig tail all aluminum wires to copper ,you should use marretts (the joiner) that are rated for this app .never use a breaker size over what the wire is rated for. a gfci are not required (at least hear) as this appliance is not considered portable (you plug it in and leave it) most gfci (for homel use)also dont like motor loads and will fail sooner.
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Old 10-16-2012, 10:45 AM   #14
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I actually ended up pigtailing copper wires to each outlet (the one in the garage and the new regular 20 amp for the washer) from the aluminum feeder wires. I used those stupid expensive wire nuts filled with anti-oxidant goop and twisted both copper wires and the aluminum wire together firmly before twisting on the nut.

So now, the pigtail connection should be what carries the load, not the receptacle itself, and removing one receptacle or the other will not affect function or ground of the remaining.

The only thing the garage outlet will power is a battery tender -- it's just in the most convenient location for that and I didn't want to remove it. I can run the air compressor off another outlet.

Thanks for the tips.
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Old 10-16-2012, 06:44 PM   #15
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i would not worry about aluminum wire after doing the proper steps ( its in my house ).we did as i explained to 435 appartments for a client and all are happy including there insurance company.
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