Do washing machines require GFCI protection?

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Question

An inspector told me the other day that a washing machine in a dwelling unit required GFCI protection. I’ve looked and I can’t find that requirement in the 2011 NEC. Can you help me with this requirement? TA

Answer

Thank you for your correspondence. There is no specific requirement in the NEC for the washing machine itself to have GFCI protection. Section 210.52(F) requires a receptacle outlet to be installed for the laundry area and it must be supplied by a 20-ampere branch circuit in accordance with 210.11(C)(2). However, depending on the location of the receptacle outlet itself, GFCI protection may be required. For example, if the laundry area receptacle outlet (20-ampere, 125-volt) is located in a bathroom or an unfinished basement of a dwelling unit, GFCI protection would be required for the receptacle outlet in accordance with 210.8(A)(1) or (A)(5) respectively. Additionally, if the washing machine is located in a laundry room or utility room that included a sink, the laundry area receptacle outlet would have to be provided with GFCI protection if it is located within 1.8 m (6 ft) of the edge of the sink in accordance with 210.8(A)(7). The location of the washing machine and of the corresponding laundry area receptacle outlet is the determining factor as to the requirement for GFCI protection.

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About the Author

Mark Hilbert was the former chief electrical inspector for the state of New Hampshire and now operates a private electrical inspection, training, and consulting business. He is a licensed master electrician in three states, a certified electrical inspector by the International Association of Electrical Inspectors, and a Certified Electrical Safety Compliance Professional. Mark is a former member of NEC Code-Making Panel 4 and NEC CMP 2. He is currently a principle member of NEC CMP 15 and the NFPA 79 and NFPA 70E Committees. He is an IAEI and NFPA seminar instructor and has taught the NEC, NFPA 79, and NFPA 70E domestically and internationally for over 19 years.