Life is precious, but so is electricity? As a result, many homeowners would want to make sure there is an electrical outlet in any place possible within the house and ensure that safety is maintained within the house.
But, having an electrical outlet under the kitchen sink can result in an electrical accident that can lead to physical damage, electric shock, and even death.
A homeowner may ponder over the question, “Do I need a GFCI under a kitchen sink?”
The National Electrical Code has stated that a Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is needed for all electrical outlets within 6-feet of a kitchen sink. Any electrical outlet outside this 6-feet distance does not need a GFCI if there is no risk of the electrical outlet coming into contact with water.
Can You Put an Electrical Outlet Under A Sink?
The National Electrical Code, a minimum standard for electricians in the United States, allows for electrical outlets to be placed under the sink.
However, all electrical outlets within a distance of 6 feet from the sink must have GFCI protection.
The outlets under the sink can serve as an electrical outlet for dishwashers and garbage disposal.
One may wonder if it is safe to put such an outlet under a sink, which is a potential risk for significant electrical hazards.
Electricians believe that locations under the sink are not wet areas and are usually not associated with any electrical hazards.
It also makes sense to put an electrical outlet under a sink. In many instances, outlets for water and garbage disposals are usually located under the sink.
So, it has become a tradition to put electrical outlets under a sink.
Irrespective of the low risk of electrical hazards with electrical outlets under a sink, the National Electric Code encourages electricians to install GFCIs in any location within the house, including locations under a sink, that exposes electrical outlets to water.
Nonetheless, check with your local electric code to know if an electrical outlet is allowed under the sink.
In addition, it is not a consensus among all electricians to have an electrical outlet under the sink.
It would be useful to also consult with an experienced electrician before deciding to have an electrical outlet under a sink.
Does Every Outlet in a Kitchen Need A GFCI?
No, you don’t have to install a GFCI on every electrical outlet in the kitchen. One GFCI is usually enough, provided it is placed on the first outlet in the circuit supplying the kitchen.
You can wire a GFCI outlet in the kitchen such that only one GFCI is needed for the whole kitchen.
Here, it would give protection for other devices within the circuit; you can also place a GFCI for particular locations within the kitchen.
According to the National Electrical Code, there are certain things you should consider.
Foremostly, you should provide GFCI protection for all electrical outlets that serve areas that are 6 feet from a countertop and sink.
Several electrical outlets do not require GFCI protection. They include those that supply electricity to fridges, water heaters, and coffee makers.
It also includes other appliances that are at a distance above the standard 6-foot range from a countertop and sink.
Electrical outlets that operate a dishwasher are not expected to have GFCI protection.
However, add a GFCI protection if the outlet serving the dishwasher is within 6 feet of a sink or when it is at risk of coming into contact with water. This rule applies to other kitchen appliances.
Nonetheless, the local electrical code of the area you live in supersedes the National Electrical Code.
So, check to know what is applicable locally when installing an electrical outlet within the kitchen.
How Far Does A GFCI Have To Be From A Kitchen Sink?
Whenever a GFCI protection is used within the kitchen, you can place it at any distance from the kitchen sink. The National Electrical Code requires that all electrical outlets within 6-feet from the sink must have GFCI protection. GFCIs are not necessary for electrical outlets above this 6-foot distance.
An electrical hazard can occur when water comes in contact with an electrical circuit.
Therefore, it would make sense that electrical outlets should not be positioned close to the kitchen sink.
However, the National Electrical Code does not set an official distance of GFCI from the kitchen sink.
Nonetheless, a GFCI is required at a specific distance from a sink because areas within the sink’s vicinity can cause water to form a short-circuit when it drops or splashes from the sink into an electrical circuit.
You can also create an electrical circuit from the contact of the human body and an electrical circuit while the homeowner or any other person is working within the sink area.
Hence, a GFCI is an absolute necessity within this area to shut the power and prevent accidents such as damage to an appliance, electrocution, or even death.
You should also check with your local authorities to confirm the requirements permitted locally since local building codes annul the requirements of the National Electrical Code.
How Can I Set Up GFCI Protection For An Electrical Outlet Under The Sink?
There are three ways to establish a GFCI protection for an electrical circuit: by replacing a standard electrical outlet with a GFCI outlet, installing a GFCI circuit breaker that protects all devices connected to the circuit, or by using a GFCI protected extension cord.
1. Replacing A Standard Electrical With A GFCI Outlet
You should remove the standard electrical outlet after ensuring that the power is turned off from the main service panel.
Then, use a GFCI outlet that matches the amperage of the circuit to replace it depending on whether your goal is a single-location or multi-location protection.
After this, turn the circuit breaker on and test the installation.
2. Installing A GFCI Circuit Breaker
This is the best way to provide GFCI protection. It requires working in the home’s main service panel where the full voltage of the entire electrical system supplying the house is present.
However, it is a job best left to professionals. It involves installing a GFCI protection to the entire circuit of the house from the mains supplying the house.
3. Using A GFCI-protected Extension Cord Or Extension Box
You can provide temporary protection to an electrical outlet under the sink by using an extension cord with GFCI protection.
You should be aware that using a GFCI-protected extension box does not meet the National Electric Code circuit requirements.
There is a clear method used to give GFCI protection to an electrical outlet under a sink.
However, local laws about electrical works within the home overrule the National Electrical Code.
So, check with the local authorities to be sure you are doing what is legally allowed.
A Ground-Fault Electrical circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is an absolute necessity in modern homes to protect homeowners from electrical accidents resulting in physical danger, electrical shock, and even death.
You can establish an electrical outlet anywhere in the kitchen, including under the kitchen sink.
However, electrical outlets within a 6 feet distance from a countertop and sink need GFCI protection.