An electrician came over today for an inspection, and pointed out that the GFCI's we have in the bathroom, kitchen and garage are only 15Amp; they claim that code requires 20Amp GFCIs in these locations. Is this correct (for a house built in 1971)?

All rooms are serviced by their own 20Amp circuits.

I'm fine with replacing them if required by code, but if he's just trying to get money out of me, I'd rather leave them (he wanted just over $900 to change 6)

  • It’s not clear from your question - are the 15 A GFCIs on 20 A circuits? – Mark Jul 9 '18 at 22:12
  • Hi Mark - The 15A GFCI's are on 20A circuits – PeteCon Jul 9 '18 at 22:13
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    Yikes! $900 to replace six GFCI receptacles?! Do not ever call this guy for anything. To get it straight the breakers on these circuits are standard 20 A and the wire is rated for that (either #12 Cu or #10 Al)? Is this house wired in Cu or Al? – Jim Stewart Jul 9 '18 at 22:29
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    If there are more than 2 outlets on a 20 amp circuit it is totally legal 1 duplex outlet fulfills this requirement, how many 120 v devices have you ever seen , I have seen very few and most of these were in commercial locations. I have seen 10x more AC units than appliances and I have been doing this since the 70's. There is no reason to use anything other than 2 15 amp outlets on a 20 amp circuit, at 900 that may be high but we don't know how the home is wired but there is nothing in code that requires anything less than a duplex 15 amp duplex in the 2017 code. – Ed Beal Jul 10 '18 at 0:21

15A refers to the receptacles on the front, not the terminals on the back

All 15A receptacles (including xFCI types) made today (and in recent history) are required to support a feed-through rating of 20A -- this means that they can support 20A from one set of screws (LINE for an xFCI) to the other set of screws (LOAD for an xFCI). As a result, having 15A duplex receptacles on a 20A circuit is A-OK -- you have more than one receptacle there, and pulling a combination of 20A from the two 15A receptacles is OK due to the feed-through rating, so Code permits this.

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    Absoutly + there is no reason to use a 20a gfci! As long as there are 2ea 15 amp outlets wether single x2 or a single duplex – Ed Beal Jul 10 '18 at 0:30

Your house falls under the NEC code it was installed. So no you don't have to add a 20A circuit if it was not required in 1971, and a 15A GFCI receptacles in those areas is fine. As you said he just wants $900 to install 6. Example: I when I had my business I would have charged you about 1/3 of that price.

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    No there is no requirement for more than 2 15 amp outlets on a 20 amp circuit you should know better RME! Gotta give this a -. Would you do it that cheap on K&T not likely , even cloth braid 2 wire , you should know, yes this age home is Rome's or nmb age but we were not there, I agree it is high but contractor friends have been calling me like crazy – Ed Beal Jul 10 '18 at 0:22
  • @EdBeal - I am not quite sure what you are trying to say, I know I should not have posted pricing on this site and apologies for it. I would also like to point out that NEC Table 210.21(B) (3) allows 15A rated receptacles on 20A circuits. The idea is that you would be unable to use a 20A rated appliance if it had a NEMA 5-20 cord cap. So it restricts your load to less than the full capacity which is not a code violation. – Retired Master Electrician Jul 10 '18 at 12:42

First, your house may be grandfathered and not require the GFCI upgrades at all.

Second, I'm a bit surprised that kitchen counter receptacles, bath and garage collectively add up to 6 circuits. I suspect you have multiple GFCI's on a single circuit, which is generally totally redundant and a waste of money. And that is "knowledge 101" for a real electrician, and he should be helping prune those down. So yeah, it sounds like he is overcharging you rather outrageously at $150/GFCI.

Lastly as everyone describes, modern code requires the circuits need to be 20A in new or remodel construction or circuit adds, but the sockets are allowed to be more common NEMA 5-15 type as long as there are two or more of them. Most receptacles come with two sockets.

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