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21 November Virginia

Ground-Fault Circuit Protection in Residential Garages in Jeopardy…Part II

The Board of Housing and Community Development (BHCD) and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) are seeking to remove GFCI Protection to receptacles serving garage door openers and refrigeration equipment located in residential garages; however in this latest revised proposal the removal of GFCI protection would also apply to basements as well.

Below is the newly proposed language to E3902.2:

“Add the following exception to Section E3902.2 of the IRC:

E3902.2 Garage and accessory building receptacles.  All 125-volt single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in garages and grade-level portions of unfinished accessory buildings used for storage or work areas shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

Exception: For other than the receptacle outlets required by Section E3901.9, a single (simplex) receptacle in a garage or basement on a dedicated circuit for each refrigeration appliance or a single (simplex) receptacle for each garage door opener shall not be required to have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.”

NEMA, the Virginia IAEI and NFPA in Virginia have contributed information that explains the importance of GFCI’s and that the International Residential Code [IRC] is a minimal code standard just like the NEC; this means that a building build using the minimum national code standard equates to the least safest a building can be constructed and still be considered code compliant and legally safe. So removing minimum national standards without great consideration only reduces those minimum standards to potentially unsafe levels.

Currently, all 15 and 20 amp, 125 volt, single phase receptacles located in residential garages and unfinished basements would require GFCI Protection for Personnel. Typically, appliances or utilization equipment located in these areas are plugged into an existing GFCI Protected receptacle. However, under this proposal if the installer chooses to install a single receptacle to avoid the GFCI requirements; an additional “individual branch circuit” would need to be installed; resulting in an increased cost of labor and material to the potential home buyer. The real problem with this proposal is the inability to enforce the proposed exceptions; when jurisdictions perform inspections on a residential dwelling there is nothing located in the garage or unfinished basement, much less refrigeration equipment. You simply can’t label a single receptacle as “refrigeration only” and expect owners to use the honor system while also keeping in mind the potential for electrocution remains a serious concern.

Since the December 16, 2013 meeting will not be a public hearing I recommend sending letters to the following individuals expressing your opposition to amending E3902.2.  Request each of these individuals to present your letter to the members of the Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development Council. As an alternative you can also email your letter to Steve Calhoun as well. Request Mr. Calhoun to present your letter of opposition to the board prior to the December 16th meeting.

Emory Rogers, Deputy Director
Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development
600 East Main Street, Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23219

Steve Calhoun
Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development
600 East Main Street, Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23219

William Shelton, Director
Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development
600 East Main Street, Suite 300
Richmond, VA 23219

Meeting Location:

Virginia Housing Center
4224 Cox Road
Glen Allen, VA
December 16, 2013
Convening at 9:30 AM

Contact: Paul Abernathy: Paul.Abernathy@NEMA.org


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