sump pump and the GFCI in a crawlspace

Is a sump pump, in a crawl, required to have GFCI protection? I’m getting a lot of mixed answers, but it appears that it’s code?? I personally have always installed them with simplex receps, and this is how I would want it if it were my house (and a back-up system, of course).
So my inspection on Saturday had a GFCI outlet installed at the sump, do I just leave it be?

All help will be much appreciated!

Have a great week all!

Hi Joshua,

I don’t see it as a problem being on a GFCI, but a dedicated single outlet would be OK as well. the only issue with it being on a GFCI outlet is maybe nuisance tripping, but that is really a sign of a pump that needs replacement anyway.



Under the 08 NEC the sump would be required to have GFI protection. The exception for a simplex receptacle allowance has been removed.

I would advise the use of a GFCI breaker, rather than a GFCI recptacle, for convenience of reseting.

I was also under the impression that it did not need GFCI if it was a dedicated circuit, but I’m not that familiar with the codes, especially the 08 codes.

Jim is correct. Under the 2008 NEC the exceptions that allowed areas to be relaxed from the GFCI requirements have been removed. (ie: the garage door opener receptacle in the ceiling of a garage in the 2008 NEC will need to be GFCI protected )

Fact is this…I dont really care if the basement floods in a weather event versus walking down into the basement and being electrocuted. GFCI’s generally don’t trip anymore unless their is a reason and either way…its a good thing.

It is important to understand how GFCI’s work…of which i dont wish to go into again ( use the search feature )

The 2007 California Electrical Code (CEC) went into effect on Jan 1, 2008. The 2007 CEC is based on the 2005 NEC. So, even if this were a new-build (in CA), it would not require a GFCI protected receptacle, unless the receptacle is “at or below grade level.”

Actually…in the 2005 NEC their is no provision otherwise than if the receptacle is in the crawl space it needs to be GFCI. 210.(A)(4) would require it ( no exception for dedication ). Most crawlspaces ( if not all…lol. ) are at or below ground level.

I had the same question and stopped by my Chicago suburb inspection department. They said that it needs to be either a GFI or a simplex outlet. I told him my concern regarding GFI tripping and that I would hate to have a flood, just because the GFI had something wrong and tripped when not suppose to (happens often), and he agreed that the simplex plug is the best solution. I put the simplex outlet, but I have decided to get the Basement Watchdog back up pump, which takes an outlet for the trickle charge for the batery. I guess my question is to keep code, can I put a another box next to the existing box and run power from the existing simplex outlet to a new simpex outlet. It meets code of a outlet needs to be simplex correct?

Hey Paul W. Abernathy](, one comment regarding your comment regarding that the crawl space at or below grade. I think they are referring to the location of the receptacle in the crawl space. I installed 2 dedicated 15a simpex outlets in the crawl space and the City inspector made a comment and measured the location of the outlet in relation to the grade. He was saying that if the sump over flowed for example and filled up the 42" crawl space (probally won’t happen) the water would leak outside through the sill plate ans since my outlets are above grade, they should not get submerged.

Tyler, what part of Chicago?


what is your interprettion of the code?

I don’t interpret code. :shock:

Even if I did, I’d defer all things electrical to Paul or Marc. :mrgreen:

Are you an inspector?

Well your local inspector is free to determine anything as long as you accept it. Since most all crawlspaces under dwellings are at the same grade or below the actual grade I would say 210.8(A)(4) would most certainly apply…and require the use of a GFCI receptacle.

Exceptions to 210.8 are documented directly after each position of the NEC and nothing in 210.8(A)(4) gives us an exception…except of course your local inspector if thats their choice…but in my opinion not how the NEC reads…but again the local inspector can make his own ruling.

The example of the 2008 NEC what would remove the allowance to a single receptacle is under 2005 NEC 210.8(A)(5) Ex.2…this exception was for unfinished basements and is removed in the 2008 NEC…you can’t apply 210.8(A)(5) to 210.8(A)(4) in any application.

BTW- The location of the receptacle in the crawl is irrelevant…it is the crawspace that is below grade or at grade.

Figured I would add this also : We are talking in the most likely sense that most crawlspaces are areas that could have water standing, wet earth or dry earth for that matter and so on. It is not nearly an issue of the " SUMP PUMP" but more so the location that is being scoped into this requirement.

The NEC is clear on 210.8(A)(4) that crawlspaces receptacles require GFCI…the comments about the Below or At Grade level are refering to the location of the crawl…it is ok to disagree with me…I have no problem with that.

Just for your reference…As to the intent of 210.8(A) regarding GFCI and Locations

(1)Bathrooms…no exceptions
(2)Garages…two exceptions
(3)Outdoors…one exception
(4)Crawl spaces…no exceptions
(5)Unfinished basements…three exceptions
(6)Kitchen counters…no exceptions
(7)Wet bars…no exceptions
[8]Boat houses…no exceptions


I have installed a 4" concrete floor and have a HVAC vent open, so think I can get away with calling this an unfinished basement? In your opinion do I have any other options than a GFCI? Do you think it’s a matter of my town still going by 2005 code?

Why try to “get away” with anything? Unless you are running a dedicated circuit from the panel, you are tapping off an existing circuit. Find an upline receptacle on the inside of the house and put your GFCI in that location. Buy one that has the small warning light so if it trips, the light goes on and you can see it inside the house. No sense in making a mountain out of a mole hill.

The Sump is on a dedicated circuit from the panel to the outlet. I am not trying to get away with anything as my 30 year old house does no apply to the 2008 NEC code and I am trying to be safe, but be cautious as GFCi has been known to switch. We got 4" of rain last week and I don’t want to be gone and the GFCI malfunctions and sump pump does not run.


I hear your concern but if the GFI trips it is for a reason. A wet baseemt is better than a death. I believe that Paul A has posted that the UL standard for acceptable leakage is .75 mA. A Class A GFI is designed to trip between 4-6 mA, several times the amount the sump is allowed to leak.

Fact is…as Jim has stated…a normal and standard operation of a Sump Pump should not trip a properly installed GFCI receptacle.

As for what someone determines is a “Crawlspace” versus " Unfinished Basement" to me depends on their knowledge of the ICC and what can be determined as a BASEMENT period…

If someone installs a concrete floor and has clearance then it could very well be argued to be a “unfinished basement” versus a “crawlspace”…ofcourse until your locality adopts the 2008 NEC which at that point it is a moot discussion.

Quite possibly Mr.Pay…you local inspector could be “in his opinion” calling this an unfinished basement…now if it is concrete and only 3-4’ tall…fat chance…lol