Peter McCarthy Electric Co., Inc. - Specializing in Older Buildings in Chicago
Adventures in Old House Wiring....

Pt 2 GFCI receptacles in an old house

Old wiring electrician Hyde Park ChicagoThis is the second part of a 2 part post. Previously, in the bathroom, there was not enough room for the GFCI receptacle in the junction box, and the vintage tile was not cut out large enough to accommodate a GFCI, so we had to use a surface mounted wiremold box to create space.

In this case,  as you can see, there was no room to install a GFCI receptacle. This over-crowded box barely had space for a standard outlet. It had been forced in there years ago. This issue is often lost on home inspectors and real estate agents, who describe switching them out as a "5 minute job."   In some cases that is true, but many, many times it is not. Notice in bottom picture the difference in size between a standard receptacle and a GFCI receptacle.

This junction box is was way too crammed with wires to allow a GFCI receptacle to be installed. Either it had to be completely cut out, a very labor-intensive process, and all the pipes/cables wires have to be re-routed into a larger box, or it had to be extended.  The second alternative is to raise the outlet off of the wall surface by installing an extension box. This fits over the original recessed box and provides wiring space. It may not be visually ideal, but it is more economical and provides safety until the future when the kitchen is fully remodeled and new, larger size junction boxes can be installed. We had to install a surface mounted extension box over this one to make enough wiring space for the GFCI receptacle.

I like to make the pros and cons of the issue transparent upfront. You can use this information to clarify with any electrician you hire how they plan to address this issue. A very experienced one ought to have a sense of this going in. You don't want your GFCI outlet jammed so forcefully into your undersized box that it damages the wires (almost a certainty if you have cloth covered wire) or yanks the box itself off the mounting, which it can if there is no place for the wires to go and someone pushes the receptacle too forcefully. So these are just things to consider.
Website Builder provided by  Vistaprint