GFCIs What are they & how to test

GFCI Info from your Scottsdale Home Inspector

GFCIs  or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters have been around for years. and as a Scottsdale home Inspector, I test them.How to test a GFCI

Most people do not pay attention to them until there is no power at an outlet, however these units fail on a regular basis, that is why they have test buttons.

Here is a short video about GFCIs but be sure to look below for more information.

People are always asking me when these were required in their home. It is not a simple answer. The codes are written ever 3 years, however the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) like the city or county may not addopt the codes when they come out. Some times they will wait 6-9 years or change sections of the code when they adopt it.

Here is a chart that shows some of the changes in the codes for GFCIs over the years.

Required Locations History

The time when a certain location first required GFCI protection may in some ways be irrelevant, since inspectors routinely recommend these important safety devices wherever they are lacking. Table 6.3 really only tells us whether the lack of a GFCI is an original defect or if recommending the GFCI would be an upgrade. Even with that information, the actual time when a local jurisdic­tion adopted a particular code edition varies widely from one location to another.

Table 6.3 – History of Residential GFCI Requirements

NEC® Year

Location or Condition


Receptacles within 15 feet of pool walls


All equipment used with storable swimming pools


All outdoor receptacles


Construction Sites


Bathrooms, 120-volt pool lights, fountain equipment, and boathouses


Garages, spas (local code may include hydromassage tubs)


Outdoor receptacles more than 6ft.6in. above grade exempted


Exemption for garage receptacles for dedicated equipment or not readily accessible


Replacement of non-grounding receptacles with no grounding conductor


Pool cover motors


Distance of GFCI protection extended to 20 feet from pool walls


Unfinished basements


Hydromassage tub rule now unequivocal


Kitchen countertop receptacles within 6 feet of sink


Crawlspaces (with exception for sump pumps or other dedicated equip.)


Wet bar countertops within 6 feet of sink


Any receptacle replaced in an area presently requiring GFCI’s


All kitchen counters – not just those within 6 feet of sink


All exterior receptacles except dedicated de-icing tape receptacle


Unfinished accessory buildings at or below grade


Exemption for dedicated equipment in crawlspace removed


“Smart-Lock” GFCI ’s required



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