How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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Is a house required to have outdoor electric receptacle outlets?
Sunday, July 15, 2018
A minimum of one exterior receptacle was first required for new homes by the 1971 NEC (National Electric Code), although they were already being installed much earlier due to consumer demand. The 2005 edition of the NEC upped the ante to two receptacles, specifying at least one each on the front and back walls of the home. Then the 2008 NEC further expanded the requirement to include at least one receptacle within any balcony, deck. or porch that is accessible from inside the house and more than twenty square feet. The exterior receptacles cannot be more than six-and-a-half feet above the ground or walking surface, and also must have GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) shock protection.
The primary reason for outdoor receptacle requirements is the trend towards outdoor living that began in mid-1950s with sliding glass doors opening onto a backyard patio or deck. Front porches that are more than just a covered entry area have also become more popular in recent decades. The shock and trip hazards of extension cords running from inside the home proliferated along with the barbecues, pools, tiki huts, and porch furniture, so the NEC rules changed to make the it safer.
Outdoor receptacles must also be protected from moisture and rain. If the receptacle is in what the NEC calls a “damp location,” meaning that it is outdoors but under a roof so that it cannot be directly rained on, then it should have a “weatherproof” cover, which has a flap mechanism that covers the slots when it is not in use. Receptacles in a “wet location,” that are exposed to direct rain, must have a “while-in-use” cover that is able to seal out rain while a cord is plugged into it.
Also, see our blog post What is the minimum height for an exterior receptacle outlet?
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To learn more about electrical wiring, devices, and receptacles, see these other blog posts:
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