Electrical codes have changed substantially over the last couple of decades.  New products and new technologies have come onto the market, sometimes on their own and sometimes at the insistence of the code-making authorities.  But there’s no doubt that the electrical codes have changed much more than the plumbing codes, for example.

And one important area of change is in the places where ground-fault circuit-interrupter (GFCI) protection is required.  It’s rare that I inspect an older house and don’t mention at least one place where GFCI protection is missing.  Many times GFCI protection clearly wasn’t required in these locations when the house was built, but other times it’s not so clear if GFCI protection was required and somebody just missed it.

To help answer that question here’s a list of places where GFCI protection is required, and the first year that it was required by the National Electrical Code (NEC).  Keep in mind that some places don’t enforce the NEC.  Most places wait several code cycles before adopting the newest version of the NEC, so it’s very hard to know when a particular city started to enforce any particular version of the NEC.  Local jurisdictions can modify the NEC as they adopt it, so a city might purposely choose not to enforce certain GFCI requirements.  So it can be quite hard to know for sure if a lack of GFCI protection was a mistake or allowed by code at the time of construction.

But here’s the list, and this can act as a rough guideline to know when GFCI protection became required.  But keep in mind that upgrading to GFCI protection is almost always quite easy and rather inexpensive.  I urge you to upgrade to GFCI protection as much as possible.

This should not be considered an exhaustive list of the locations where GFCI protection is required.

LOCATIONYear
underwater pool lights greater than 15 volts1968
construction site receptacles (effective 1/1/1974)1971
outdoor receptacles – residential (effective 1/1/1973)1971
receptacles within 15 feet of pools1971
all equipment with storable pools1971
bathroom receptacles1975
fountains1975
receptacles in residential garages1978
outdoor receptacles exemption if more than 6 feet 6 inches above grade (exemption removed in 1996)1978
receptacles in bathrooms and exteriors of mobile homes1978
receptacles in bathrooms, exteriors, and near lavatories in recreational vehicles1978
lighting fixtures closer than 10 feet to a pool1978
exceptions added for garages (repealed in 2008)1981
receptacles within 20 feet of indoor spa (changed to 10 feet in 1987)1981
replacements of non-grounding receptacles1984
receptacles in hotel and motel bathrooms1984
motors and controllers of pool covers1984
minimum one receptacle in unfinished basements1987
receptacles above kitchen countertop within 6 feet of sink1987
receptacles in boathouses1987
high-pressure spray washers1987
commercial repair garages with portable tools and lamps1987
hydromassage tubs1987
ungrounded grounding-type receptacles1990
crawlspaces with exceptions (exceptions removed in 1996)1990
all unfinished basement receptacles, with exceptions (exceptions removed in 2008)1990
replacement receptacles in presently required areas1993
receptacles serving wet bar countertops within 6 feet of sink1993
all bathrooms in areas other than dwellings1993
all electrical components of spas and hot tubs1993
exception for circuit dedicated to receptacles for de-icing tape1996
all receptacles installed to serve kitchen countertops (expanding the requirement)1996
non-dwelling receptacles on rooftops1996
pool pump motors in other than dwellings1999
pool pump motors in dwellings2002
non-dwelling receptacles in kitchens2002
receptacles within 6 feet of laundry, utility, and wet bar sinks2005
non-dwelling outdoor receptacles in areas accessible to the public2005
boat hoists2005
all non-dwelling outdoor receptacles2008
receptacles within 6 feet of non-dwelling sinks2008
removal of exceptions for garages and unfinished basements2008
GFCI’s need to be readily accessible2011
non-dwelling indoor wet locations and locker rooms with showers2011
laundry areas2014
dishwasher branch circuits2014
within 6 feet of the outside edge of a bathtub or shower stall2014
lighting outlets in crawlspaces2017
sump pumps2020
basements (expanding the requirement)2020
some outside HVAC equipment2020
kitchens (expanding the requirement)2023
indoor damp and wet locations2023
areas with sinks and permanent provisions for food preparation, beverage preparation, or cooking2023

 

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