GFCI's and Washer Machine's - Enjoy

Receptacles and GFCI’s - Laundry Sinks & Receptacles

The great debate has started in many areas on the requirements for GFCI to be within 6’ of a Laundry, Utility and Wet Bar Sinks. The debate that spawns new additions to the NEC help educate us on the evolution of the NEC and the GFCI in general.

When we think of GFCI we think of personal protection, the device’s are well known for saving lives ( nearly 600 a year estimated ) , and while they can fail the positive effects truly overwhelm the potential bad when thinking of these products.

While currently under the 2005 NEC, receptacles located in unfinished basements and garages have allowances to dedicated equipment allowing non-gfci protected receptacles under exacting guidelines, it is also observed that in the 210.8(A)(7) provision their is no exceptions to the requirement of any 125V 15A or 20A receptacle located within 6’ of the laundry sink.

So this begs the consumer to ask, if the washing machine receptacle is within 6’ of the laundry sink edge , does the NEC and Safety Standards mandate this receptacle to be protected by GFCI?

While many can argue this stance for or against, the NEC has spoken on it’s opinion of the exceptions for allowing dedicated equipment in GFCI defined area’s of basements and garages in the latest 2008 NEC ROC 2-50 where the allowance for utilization equipment to not be on GFCI was removed and no doubt it rings clear in the other area’s of 210.8.

A panel of experts have stated that the GFCI’s of today do not have the nuisance tripping problems that plaqued the GFCI in the early days thus the NEC board has decided to decrease the expections provided by specific locations in the past.

Conclussion is this, depending on the NEC cycle you are within the receptacle within 6’ of the laundry sink should be suggested but may not be required or if you are in the 2005 NEC cycle it should be suggested and quite frankly is required to be GFCI . Regardless of the cycle in the eyes of many and even the NEC Code Panel the safety concerns are growing.

While many will debate this the NEC in 2008 sets a clear standard of where the GFCI is required and limit’s the exceptions to the rule.

[FONT=Arial]2-50 Log #3180 NEC-P02

[/FONT]Final Action: Accept
(210.8(A)(2) Exception No. 1 to (2))

Donald Cook, Shelby County Development Services

Delete this exception completely.

The protection afforded by GFCI is not related to the location
of the receptacle. If cord and plug connected utilization equipment is powered
from this receptacle and has leakage current at a level that will trip the GFCI,
protection should be provided. The permitted leakage current for typical cord
and plug connected equipment is.5 ma. The trip range for GFCI protective
devices is 4-6 ma. For this utilization equipment to trip the GFCI device, it
would have 8 to 12 times the leakage current permitted by the product
standard. The fact that the receptacle is not readily accessible will have no
impact on the shock hazard to a person touching the utilization equipment.

**Panel Meeting Action: Accept

Number Eligible to Vote: 12
**Ballot Results: **Affirmative: 11 Negative: 1

**Explanation of Negative:

[FONT=Arial]PURVIS, R.: See my Explanation of Negative for Proposal 2-40.

It was this board that made me fit one and for twenty dollars, it was well spent.

I think the early “nuisance tripping” problems were more to do with defective appliances that had gone undetected and sloppy wiring practices that grounded the neutral than real problems with the device.

I agree Greg…sad to say the poor wiring practices and older appliances still being used even in newer homes ( since the owners dont want to part with old stuff ) may create a backlash against the GFCI in the future…when in fact the problem is with the equipment and not the GFCI itself…

However it is a strong statement by the NEC Board…as we see atleast one on the board did not agree.