Commercial & Residential Electricians in Mesa AZ.


Where Are GFCI Outlets Required In Older Homes

Do you have a question about a GFCI outlet? Free over the phone consultations are offered by the local Mesa electricians at Dolce Electric Company. Our in-office electrician in Mesa AZ will answer all of your questions. He will clarify where indoor and outdoor GFCI receptacles are required and help you determine if they’re needed for your situation. Our local Mesa AZ electricians are available from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM, Monday thru Friday. Inquire today during regular business hours and get the information that you are looking for.

Information About GFCI Outlets And Where One Is Needed

Leviton 15 amp GFCI outlet with black test button, red reset button and indoor cover

GFCI outlets are not required in older homes the same way they are required in newer homes. It depends on when your home was constructed and what the electrical code’s requirement was at that time. Any updates to existing wiring in homes will require compliance with the present electrical code. It is a good idea to have them installed for safety regardless. Here is when updates were made to the electrical code requiring GFCI outlets:

1971: GFCI outlets required for swimming pools
1975: GFCI outlets required for all exterior outlets and bathrooms
1981: GFCI outlets required in garages
1987: GFCI outlets required for kitchens, unfinished basements, bathroom spa tubs and boathouses
1990: GFCI outlets required in crawlspaces
1993: GFCI outlets required for wet bars
2005: AFCI protection required in living spaces
2014: GFCI outlets required for kitchen dishwashers and laundry areas

In older homes it can be challenging to install GFCI outlets into the receptacle electrical boxes. These boxes are often shallow, providing little room for a GFCI outlet. In cases where they just will not fit you can use AFCI circuit breakers to achieve the same protection.

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More About GFCI Outlets, Required Locations And Exceptions

Ground fault circuit interrupting receptacles or other forms of ground fault circuit interrupter protection are required by the national electrical code for all 15 amp and 20 amp outlets operating at 120 volts in the following residential areas:

Kitchens and Wet Bar Areas:

All 15 and 20 amp plug sockets that serve kitchen counter top areas require ground fault circuit interrupter protection. This includes island counter tops and any plug socket that is within six feet of the outside edge of a sink. Exceptions include plug sockets specifically designated and installed for garbage disposals, refrigerators, ice makers and water heaters.


All 15 and 20 amp plug sockets in bathrooms require GFI protection. Exceptions include designated power for point of use water heaters and disconnecting means for ceiling exhaust fans.


All receptacles in the garage are required to have ground fault circuit interrupter protection. Exceptions include ceiling outlets for garage door openers and installing dedicated circuits that are identified and located specifically for plug-and-cord connected appliances like refrigerators and freezers.

Storage Areas, Sheds, Unfinished Basements, Crawl Spaces and Workshops:

All plug sockets require ground fault circuit interrupter protection. Exceptions include installing dedicated circuits that are identified and located specifically for plug-and-cord connected appliances like sump pumps, refrigerators and freezers.


All receptacles outside of a dwelling unit, including any plug sockets installed under the eaves of roofs for holiday decorations, are required to be GFCI outdoor outlets. The only exception is when installing snow melting or de-icing equipment where the receptacle is not readily accessible. Surface mounted or exposed electrical boxes and covers must be outdoor rated for all applications regardless of the use. When devices like landscape lights, watering time clocks or fountains are constantly plugged in, consider installing “while-in-use” covers for additional durability.

Swimming Pools:

All plug sockets that supply power to pool equipment must be GFCI outdoor receptacles. This includes pool lights and power operated pool covers. Additionally, any receptacle that supplies power to pool motors, including 15 amp and 20 amp – 240 volt plug sockets, require working ground fault circuit protection without exception. Every outdoor GFCI outlet requires enclosure in an exterior rated box and cover. Visit our pool electricians page for more information.

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A GFCI power outlet should be used in all places where electrical power is accessible and moisture or water is present. In all cases a 15 amp GFCI outlet should be used with a 15 amp circuit. Likewise, a 20 amp GFCI outlet should be used with a 20 amp circuit. You may discover that a 15 amp device has been used on a 20 amp circuit in your home. According to the electrical code, a 15 amp GFI receptacle is allowed when the circuit provides power to 2 or more outlets.

Interior outlets should be “TR” rated. This means that they are tamper resistant to protect children from electrical injury.
Exterior outlets should be “WR” rated. This means that they are weather resistant for outdoor use.

What Is A GFCI Outlet And Why They Are Very Important?

GFCI electrical outlets are the receptacles (often rectangular in shape) with the two buttons on them labeled “reset” and “test”. G.F.C.I. is short for ground fault circuit interrupter. They are sometimes referred to simply as GFI’s. They work by constantly comparing the electricity being delivered on the hot side to the electricity returning on the neutral side. When these devices detect even the smallest difference between the two sides, the device shuts down by tripping almost instantly. They do this for safety when electricity is leaking out of the circuit somewhere, possible through a person being electrocuted.

GFCI protected outlets that are not working properly are a safety hazard. If you want to check to see if your GFI receptacles are working properly push the test button. This should cut the power immediately, which confirms that it is working correctly. After testing, push the reset button to restore your protected power.

So what is a gfci outlet and where is one needed? They are safety devices that are specifically designed and strategically installed in your circuiting to keep you and your loved ones protected from electrical injury.

If you have further questions, contact our local in-office electricians in Mesa Arizona. They have been voted best electricians Mesa AZ and will gladly clear up any questions about if ground fault circuit interrupters are needed for a location. We schedule an electrician Mesa AZ homeowners can call Monday thru Friday, from 8:00 AM until 5:00 PM. Call today; you will be happy you did!