GFCI outlets can undoubtedly make your home safer. However, NEC requires you to install gfci outlets; most homeowners do not do so.
One of the most common questions which homeowners have is, are gfci outlets required in older homes?
Today, I will answer this question. Along with the answer to this question, I will update you on the reasoning behind my answer as well.
Are gfci outlets required in older homes?
No, gfci outlets are not required in older homes. NEC states that you should only opt for gfci outlets if you’re updating the wiring. Other than that, they are not needed in older homes.
However, older homes require frequent maintenance when it comes to electrical outlets. In some cases, when you’re conducting this maintenance, it is a good idea to switch over to gfci outlets. The gfci outlets ultimately can make your home safer.
By now, you might be wondering under what conditions it makes sense to switch over to gfci outlets? I will answer this question below.
When should you install gfci outlets in older homes?
There are a few situations that make perfect sense to switch over to gfci outlets even in older homes. I will highlight these below.
1. Updating of wiring:
According to NEC, if you’re updating your older home’s wiring, it makes perfect sense to switch over to gfci outlets. As it is, you might be changing the fixtures associated with these electrical wiring’s as well. Rather than opting for the usual outlets, it is a good idea to switch over to gfci outlets in that case.
Sure enough, you might have to shell out some extra money for gfci outlets, but now is the time to do so. It will make your home much safer.
Not always; you might have to shell out extra money. For example, there are outdoor light fixtures with gfci outlets integrated into them. You can read more about them in my post here. When you opt for them, you will be saving money as these amalgamate light sources and gfci outlets.
Needless to say, whenever you’re updating the electrical wiring in your older home, it is a good idea to switch over to gfci outlets.
2. Installation of any major appliance:
While the home might be old but we all need creative comforts inside such a home. It means that you might install a newer appliance or two from time to time.
With the installation of such appliances, the load on the existing electrical system will increase. This also increases the chances of a leakage current.
Therefore, whenever you’re installing any major appliance, even in an older home, it makes perfect sense to switch over to gfci outlets. At least, the outlets which are in direct connection with that appliance should have gfci protection. In that case, you can protect the appliance and the rest of the systems in your home.
3. Occurrence of a fault like a short circuit:
Older homes consist of older wirings. These wirings are susceptible to short circuits and other such faults. If a short circuit occurs, as it is, you will have to change the wiring of your older home.
When you’re changing your older home’s wiring, it is a good idea to switch over to safer outlets as well. Gfci outlets are such safer outlets.
Also, the occurrence of a fault like a short circuit is a sign in itself that the wiring is too old, and you need to do something about the safety of the electrical systems in the home.
Installing a gfci protected system is the right step to undertake.
Thus, if there is an occurrence of any fault like a short circuit in your home, it is a good to switch over to gfci outlets.
These are the events in which it makes perfect sense to switch over to gfci outlets.
The next question you might have is, where should you install gfci outlets and where you shouldn’t?
I will answer this below as well.
Where should you install gfci outlets in older homes?
There are a few places in an older home where you should install a gfci outlet. I will highlight these places below.
Firstly, whenever you’re installing an outlet outdoor, you should install a gfci first. The gfci outlet can protect your electrical system from humidity, weather elements, and damaged wires. Whenever there is a leakage current, it will trip the entire circuit, and you will need to reset it. Before that, you will have to fix the fault as well, or otherwise, it will trip once again.
Thus, whenever you’re installing an outlet outdoors in your older home, you should go with a gfci outlet.
According to NEC, in the bathroom, you should install a gfci outlet. If the outlet is within 6 feet radius of the water source, you should go with a gfci outlet. Humidity can always result in a short circuit or a leakage current. When there is a gfci outlet, it will trip by itself when the outlet is exposed to water or humidity; the leakage current starts flowing.
That is why, even in your older home, if the outlet is within 6 feet of the water source, it is good to install a gfci first.
Similar rules apply to the kitchen as well. Whether you’re installing an outlet in an older kitchen or in your new kitchen, if it is within 6 feet of the water source or the countertop, it is a good idea to install a gfci, NEC mandates that.
If you observe closely, most of the outlets within your kitchen will be within 6 feet of the countertop. That is why installing gfci outlets everywhere in your kitchen is always a good idea.
In older homes, the basement is always susceptible to leakage. Not only that, the basement can have the heater assembly in your home as well.
In both these cases, the basement can benefit significantly from a gfci outlet. Installing a gfci outlet in the basement can undoubtedly make it safer. A safe basement can result in enhanced safety for your entire home as well. That is why installing gfci outlets in your basement is also a good idea.
These are the four parts of your older home where you should go with a gfci outlet.
So, gfci outlets are not required in older homes. However, whenever you’re updating your home’s wiring, it is a good idea to go with gfci outlets. My guide above can also help you understand which parts of your older home you should install gfci outlet. If you want to reduce your energy bills and expenses, you can only stick to gfci outlets in those parts. Only then, it will become easy for you to make your home safer. It is wise to adhere to the NEC guidelines and install gfci outlets in the right places.