I'm moving my main panelboard as part of a service upgrade. The panelboard is brand new (i.e. I'm not reusing the old board).

Do I need to add CAFCI/GFCI breakers on the old branch circuits (as would be required for new construction/new branch circuits)? For example, there's no GFCI on my washing machine branch circuit, but Code requires this circuit be GFCI protected for new construction. Other examples: there's no AFCI anywhere in the house. I could go on.

The house is located in Seattle, USA, was built in 1927, and contains a mix of knob and tube, NM (original), and NM-B wiring as well as a bit of armored cable here and there. Eventually, we'll completely rewire the house, but the previous homeowner just added outlets wherever he saw a "convenient" place to tap into an existing circuit. That's probably good reason for adding CAFCI/GFCI protection, but I'm concerned I'm going to be fighting nuisance trips until I can do a proper re-wiring job.

Answers that cite the relevant Code are appreciated!

  • Legacy K and T would make me want to add at least GFCI breakers (cheap) and maybe AFCI/GFCI combo breakers (pricey, but I think worth it for some circuits).
    – bib
    Apr 18, 2017 at 1:46
  • 1
    Are you having the work inspected? If so, you should ask the inspector. I'd guess that you'll have to bring the panel up to current code, which would include AFCI/GFCI protection.
    – Tester101
    Apr 18, 2017 at 11:33

1 Answer 1


Depends if by moving the panel requires replacing any wires.

For example, if you're simply moving the panel up a foot without having to replace wires then no, no GFCI or Arc fault protection required.

On the other hand, any time a wire is replaced it generally is required to be brought up to code. This is common rule for not only electrical but all forms of construction.

  • I'll have to extend each branch circuit by about 10-15', so that will be new wire. At some point the previous homeowner or his electrician ran all the K&T into J boxes, then ran NM to the panel. My plan was basically to use the existing J boxes, and run a longer length of wire to the new panel. So, that's probably "new," correct? Apr 18, 2017 at 1:29
  • Most cases the old wires are only replaced to the point that is accessible. In contrast, if walls are removed to expose old wires those need to be replaced.
    – Kris
    Apr 18, 2017 at 1:34

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.