Where Should I Install GFCI Outlets?

by Remi Lavana
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You should install a GFCI outlet in any area where water, heavy humidity, or moisture exists. Where water exists may include the kitchen, bathroom, pool, garage, hot tub, basement, garage, or anywhere around the outside of the house. A GFCI outlet prevents an electrical connection when water contacts the outlet or electrical system in the immediate area. If you discover that you need an electrical outlet, do not attempt a DIY outlet installation. You may violate local residential building codes by installing the outlet yourself. Instead, you need to schedule a GFCI outlet installation from a certified electrician in Clayton, North Carolina. An experienced electrician can help you install GFCI outlets in the right areas to be safe and reliable.

What Is a GFCI Outlet?

GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. These are also referred to as GFIs or Ground Fault Interrupters. A GFCI monitors the balance of electrical current moving through a circuit. If the power goes where it shouldn’t, the GFCI immediately cuts off the electricity.

A GFCI prevents fatal electrical shock by eliminating the electrical current as it occurs. It protects the user against potential hazards, such as

  • Water shock
  • Electrical short
  • Lack of electrical grounding
  • Electrical surge
  • Contact with electrical wires

If any of the above occurs, the GFCI instantly cuts the electrical current, preventing electrical shock. For this reason, contractors now install GFCI outlets instead of the standard plug-ins in older homes. In many states like North Carolina, some laws and regulations require home builders to install GFCI outlets in certain rooms.

Where Is the Best Area or Room to Install a GFCI Outlet?

The National Electric Code (NEC) requires the installation of GFCI outlets in new construction in areas where electrical outlets are near water. Older homes do not require GFCI outlets unless you update the wiring. However, you may want to install them.

The NEC requires GFCIs on all exterior and bathroom receptacles (another term for outlets). It also requires GFCIs on receptacles serving kitchen countertops. Install GFCIs on outlets within six feet of sinks, washing machines, and water heaters in laundry and utility rooms. They should also be installed within six feet of a wet bar and in garages and unfinished basements.

1. Bathroom

Bathrooms have multiple fixtures, such as sinks, bathtubs, toilets, and showers, where water is present 24/7. As a result, the bathroom is where the potential for electrical shock is the highest. An electrician should install a GFCI outlet in every receptacle – especially near the sink.

2. Kitchen

The kitchen is another room where water is present in almost every corner. It contains a sink and multiple appliances, such as a dishwasher and refrigerator. Water is always in use. Ideally, you want a GFCI in every receptacle – especially close to the sink and countertops. Standing water is common in these areas and can cause electrocution.

3. Garage

A garage is largely a dry place if you keep the garage doors and windows closed. However, some garages feature a sink or a faucet. Rainwater or humidity can get inside. You may also have large containers of liquids scattered throughout the garage. If you use tools in the garage, there is a power surge or electric shock risk. GFCI outlets prevent electrical shock in the area.

4. Pool

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recommends installing and using ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) for protection against electrocution hazards involving electrical circuits and underwater lighting circuits in and around pools, spas, and hot tubs.

5. Laundry Room

According to the NEC, install a GFCI if the power outlet is within a 1.8-meter radius of the water source. If you are renovating your laundry room, adding a laundry room to your house, or building a new home with a laundry room, install a GFCI for a washing machine.

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