Replacing GE older 1/2 in breakers with 1 inch AFCI/GFCI?

Question

We have a GE Powermark Gold panel in the house we just bought. Wiring seems in good shape with the panel populated with old 1/2 GE 20 amp breakers.
I have started protecting circuits using AFCI/GFCI outlets placed on the first outlet of the circuit. This seems to work fine on those circuits.

But it looks like a couple can’t be done that way because of space and locations, e.g. bathroom vents/lights, and counter mounted toggle switches for the disposal and the dishwasher. It seems the only way to get protection is to replace the breakers, unless you can point me to switches with built in AFCI/GFCI protection. Would rather replace switches than mess around in the breaker box.

If I have to replace breakers, the problem is that the old 1/2 in. breakers are packed together and the new GE breakers are 1 inch wide so I would have to rearrange them. Is there a problem with the rearrangment as long as the wires are still matched up?
Thanks for the videos.


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Michael Richard 3 weeks 3 Answers 59 views

Answers ( 3 )

  1. A little related to my question about AFCI/GFCI breakers and why I’m now glad I’m doing this. You probably get tired of war stories from amateurs, but this might help some others reading this. Looks like the place was rewired 20-30 years ago. Just a guess. All good quality NM 12/2.
    I installed a Leviton AFCI/GFCI in the first outlet of a circuit to protect an office (ex bedroom) as well as our bedroom. The rest of the outlets are old and figured I’d eventually update them.
    All was fine for a few days, but this morning about 4-5am the protected outlet tripped. Nowhere near water so looked to see if there was a device that might have done it. Nothing obvious.
    Had read that old backstabbed outlets can get loose and cause that kind of problem, so decided to get to work replacing the old outlets on the circuit now. Wouldn’t you know, the first one I pulled, a neutral wire pops out of the back like it was barely connected. Would have never known if I hadn’t started this project, as there was no evidence of malfunction otherwise.
    Thanks again.

  2. Yeah, didn’t realize I hadn’t said why I’m doing this, other than having time on my hands and being an inveterate tinkerer 🙂
    But I do have some reasons. We bought the 1960’s vintage house we’ve been renting for a few years.
    Needed to update a couple of baths, replacing a tub and a shower. Had to replace the light in the shower stall. It’s grounded and I can’t reach it but have some tall friends. Also had our AC guy replace forced air ceiling heaters in the baths (in Houston?) with vent fans to combat the humidity. I put in timers for the fans and then started realized they might need GFCI. Looks like they do.
    There are fairly new looking GFCI outlets near the sinks, so don’t need to mess with them. And I suppose I don’t really need to install GFCI on the disposal and dishwasher unless we replace them.
    Most of the other outlets are those old almond colored things, many with white face plates, and really could use changing out. The inspector also pointed out that plugs in them were loose and suggested tamper resistant ones.
    Did a lot of reading and it seems if I change out outlets, I have to install AFCI and/or GFCI in required areas. I did it on a couple of easy circuits, putting Leviton AFCI/GFCI outlets in the first positions and they look like they work.
    As I said, there are a few places where the protected outlets or switches don’t seem practical, like the very small bathroom switch boxes for the lights and fans and some other areas. That’s why I asked about breakers. Hope I didn’t drone on too long.
    Like the videos and thanks.

  3. Well first off, why are you doing this?

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