Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters – GFCI’s
There is a lot of confusion in the world of Real Estate Sales and Inspections about Ground Fault Circuit Interruption (GFCI or GFI) protection & devices. The average home buyer has no or only a vague understanding of what these are or when and where they are needed.
Real Estate sales professionals are not much better informed than buyers and sellers and sadly many home inspectors are not keeping up with these issues. The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) has also helped to cloud the issue by putting requirements for home inspectors to follow that seem confusing to Realtors and Inspectors. How is a home buyer to figure these things out if the Real Estate Professionals are having trouble with it?
According to the Standards of Practice (SoP) for Real Estate Inspectors, promulgated by TREC and effective Sept 7, 2016 and still in effect, the inspector is to call it a deficiency if GFCI protection is not provided at some specific locations in the home. These locations include all bathroom receptacles; all garage receptacles; all outdoor receptacles; all crawl space receptacles; all unfinished basement receptacles; all kitchen countertop receptacles; and all receptacles that are located within six feet of the outside edge of a sink. It is also a deficiency if any GFCI protection device is defective or inoperable in any way.
Pay close attention to the use of the word all. For example an outlet in a garage ceiling is deficient if not GFC protected even if that was NOT a code requirement at the time the house was built. (Remember, many houses in use today were built before GFCI devices were even invented.)
The National Electric Code (NEC) or chapter 70 of the National Fire Protection Act (NFPA) requires GFCI protection in several more places than is mentioned in the TREC SoP for inspectors. All codes including the NEC are updated every three years so here is a dilemma. Should an inspector call the lack of GFCI protection deficient if it is not specifically required by TREC?
The TREC rule that requires those specific locations to be called deficient, even if not required by code at the time of construction, would seem to indicate TREC’s concern for safety. This would also seem to indicate that the lack of GFCI protection in a required location of the most current NEC should also be noted as deficient.
TREC does not specifically require an inspector to report on these but does allow inspectors to exceed the Standards of Practice. As a result your inspector may mention the lack of ground fault protection in several other areas which include; the dishwasher (hard wired or plugged in), motors & lights for swimming pool and hot tub equipment, indoor hydro massage tubs, all laundry room outlets & outlets that serve window A/C units. With the adoption of the 2020 NEC 250 volt receptacles in kitchens (within 6’of a sink), laundry areas (dryer), garages and outdoors should be ground fault protected. The outdoor A/C equipment was included in this also but this requirement was suspended by the Texas Dept. of Licensing & Regulations – (they license electricians in Texas) until Nov. 30, 2023. Apparently there is a problem with GFCI’s and A/C condensers and time is needed to solve the problem.
Posted: Mar 18, 2021
Posted by: Ed Fryday, ACI, CMI® | TREC License: #6932
Space City Inspections, LLC