A GFCI outlet is considered the ultimate security against electrical failure. In the USA, the usage of a GFCI outlet is mandatory. But many homeowners often get confused about where to install those outlets.
Should you install a GFCI outlet under the sink?
Although outlets under the sink generally stay dry, it’s still safer to have GFCI. The NEC encourages having GFCI outlets within the 6-foot range of a sink. Dishwashers also require a GFCI connection but it’s optional for garbage disposal. There are 3 ways to install a GFCI outlet under the sink.
That was nothing but just an overview of the entire discussion. Without a doubt, there’s a lot to explain and we’re glad to do it.
Simply keep reading and you’ll have all sorts of information that you’re looking for!
Do the Outlets Under Kitchen Sinks Need To Be GFCI
It’s not uncommon to have electrical outlets under the kitchen sink. They have a lot of usage in the kitchen. In Particular, dishwashers and garbage disposal require an electrical connection.
Like kitchens, even bathrooms have their own GFCI code.
A GFCI outlet is a special type of outlet that interrupts the circuit. It can shut down the power at the outlet directly if there’s an electrical failure.
A GFCI outlet instantly trips itself the moment it senses a leakage. If there’s water or some debris nearby, it’ll trip and sever the connection.
This, in turn, prevents you from getting an electrical shock. It also saves your appliances from suffering electrical damage.
People may wonder if it’s even legal to put an outlet under a kitchen sink. The simple answer is that it’s totally allowed to put outlets under the sink.
But there’s a specific range that you’ll have to maintain. Because having electricity close to a sink is still considered dangerous.
The electricians don’t consider the area under the sink as wet. After all, water rarely reaches the area under the sink. Almost all the time, the area under the sink stays dry.
Unless something happens and water splashes on the outlet.
This might make you think that you don’t really need a GFCI outlet. And that’s true.
You technically don’t need the outlets to be GFCI protected.
After all, if there’s no danger, why bother installing them right?
But here’s the catch. It doesn’t hurt to take the extra step just for safety. That’s why the NEC code encourages all Americans to make the outlets GFCI protected.
This rule is for outlets that are within the 6-foot range from a water source. Outlets outside this range are considered safe and do not need GFCI protection.
In easy words, you’ll need the outlets under the sink to be GFCI protected.
Does Garbage Disposal Require GFCI Protection
Garbage disposals are also one of the most used appliances in a kitchen. That’s why it’s not abnormal to wonder about garbage disposal requiring GFCI.
And that doesn’t stop there. People also often wonder whether garage outlets require GFCI or not.
The answer to this is a bit confusing. Because the NEC doesn’t require you to install a GFCI outlet for garbage disposal.
But NEC also says that outlets within the 6-foot range need GFCI protection. In that case, what is the best solution?
The answer is pretty easy and sort of depends on your location and state. Some people argue that the NEC’s GFCI rule doesn’t apply to garbage disposal.
If you think the garbage disposal outlet has a chance to contact water, add GFCI.
It’s also wise to contact your nearest services and ask them about it. Your state may need the garbage disposal to be GFCI protected.
Does Dishwasher Need GFCI Protection
Luckily, dishwashers aren’t as confusing as garbage disposals. Because the NEC requires all the dishwashers to have GFCI protection.
It also doesn’t matter whether it’s hardwired or connected by a plug. There are a lot of risks involving dishwashers.
That’s why it’s best to have GFCI protection no matter what.
Setting Up A GFCI Outlet Under The Sink: 3 Different Methods
There are 3 different ways to set up a GFCI outlet under the sink. Luckily, all 3 methods are quite simple and can be done by yourself.
But the best option is to hire a professional. Because working with circuits can be risky.
Method 1: Adding a GFCI Circuit Breaker
This is the simplest method of all three. That’s why we’ve put it before everything else.
People often wonder about putting the GFCI circuit breaker at the beginning or end. The answer is pretty simple.
If you want to protect everything, adding a GFCI circuit breaker is the best option. It’ll immediately sever the entire connection if there’s any fault.
Method 2: Replacing Old Outlets with GFCI Outlets
But you may not like the circuit breaker idea. Because it always cuts the entire system from the connection.
If that’s the case, GFCI outlets are your best option. This way only a specific outlet will be disconnected. But the rest of the system will work just fine.
For your convenience, I have listed some of my favorite picks:
These will help you choose whichever you prefer and get your outlets replaced!
Method 3: Using an Extension Box with GFCI Protection
It’s also possible to power the outlet under the sink with an extension cable. But remember that it’s not allowed by the NEC.
Because there are already 2 other clear methods of providing GFCI protection. But your local state law can overrule the NEC code.
That’s why check with the authorities before attempting to do this method.
Question: Can a GFCI be in a cabinet?
Answer: Yes, it’s totally possible to have a GFCI outlet in a cabinet. Normally, if there’s not enough space on the wall, cabinet walls can be used. It’s totally safe and many modern houses have them. But if you choose to install one, make sure to hire an electrician.
Question: Does a fridge need a GFCI?
Answer: In a residence, any receptacle over the countertop requires GFCI protection. Usually, there’s no need for GFCI for a receptacle that’s connected to a fridge. But if the connected receptacle is over the countertop, it has to be GFCI.
Question: Does a built-in microwave need GFCI protection?
Answer: The National Electrical Code requires any outlet to be GFCI within a 6-foot range. And that rule applies to microwaves as well. If your built-in microwave is in that area, it has to be GFCI protected. It’s much safer and prevents you from getting shocked or severely hurt.
That was everything I could gather and explain the GFCI outlet under the sink. I hope that my information has helped you understand the subject.
If you want my opinion, I would say to replace all the outlets with GFCI. You never know what’s coming and within 6-foot of a water source, anything can happen. It’s way safer that way.
Finally, have a nice day and have fun!