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When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required near bathtubs and showers?
Thursday, May 23, 2019
Although receptacles in bathrooms have been required to be GFCI-protected since th 1975 edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC), the requirement was extended in the 2017 NEC to include receptacles within 6 feet of the outside edge of bathtubs and showers even if they are not in a bathroom.
The mandate for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Protection for receptacles in wet areas around the home began in the 1971 edition of the NEC, and at first only for exterior receptacles and ones near a swimming pool. As the NEC has updated with a new edition every three years, the locations required have been expanded or tweaked with almost every cycle since then. For a complete listing of each currently required location for GFCI-protection and when it was instituted, see our blog post When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?
But, while the year that the NEC added a new location requirement is easy to define, each local juridiction’s building codes don’t necessarily adopt the latest edition of the NEC immediately. The state of Florida, for example, did not make the 2011 NEC effective until mid-2015. Other jurisdictions have sometimes waited even longer to adopt a newer NEC edition and, to complicate things further, they might make amendments that exclude parts of the newest requirements. So the year when the NEC first required GFCI-protection for a new receptacle location can be several years before your local building department adopted that edition of the code and began enforcing it.
Also, see our blog post What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) NOT protect against?
One last note: GFCI-protection can be provided by a GFCI receptacle (one receptacle will protect others downstream in the circuit, which should be marked as GFCI protected), a GFCI circuit breaker in the electric panel, or a GFCI dead front (often used for indoor spa tubs, essentially a GFCI receptacle without the slots to plug in a cord, usually located in bathroom or next to electric panel).
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