Found a usual double outlet in the garage next to the water softener LOOP. There was no softener in place. The outlet was not GFCI protected although you can tell it was put there for a softener to be plugged into to. My question is, since it’s a double outlet, it would not be deemed as a dedicated outlet for the softener (if one were ever to be installed) and since it is in accessible range, shouldn’t it be gfci protected? What are some thoughts?
Depends on the year the home was built, but generally speaking, yes - it should be GFCI protected. A water softening system doesn’t qualify for the exception in most cases.
There is no rational reason for a water softener to be exempted from GFCI protection. It is not a critical application and there is no hardware reason for it to trip a GFCI other than a shorted motor.
Even if you do choose to exploit 210.8(A)(2)ex2 that only exempts the receptacle in the “dedicated space” that the fixed in place equipment is plugged into. It does not exempt a second hole in a duplex and if the softener is gone the exception goes away with it.