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  1. #1

    Default Outlets under kitchen sink

    Gentlemen:
    Doing an inspection recently I came across two electrical outlets located under the kitchen sink behind the drain lines and slightly down the back wall. The outlets are within 12" of a plumbing waste line and one is even closer to the supply lines. I called this out as being unacceptable and when pointed out to the customer, they laughed and thought that was the dumbest location for an electrical outlet. Problem is I cannot find a code that says it is not allowed. The plumbing on this house had issues of its own, but if someone can set me straight from an electrical standpoint I would appreciate it.


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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Wilson View Post
    Problem is I cannot find a code that says it is not allowed. The plumbing on this house had issues of its own, but if someone can set me straight from an electrical standpoint I would appreciate it.
    You couldn't find anything because there is nothing to find.

    That is where the garbage disposer and dishwasher receptacles are frequently located. There is nothing wrong with having those receptacles down there.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3

    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Thanks for your quick and accurate response Jerry. I was thinking they were just to close. Must have been all the homeowner special plumbing in the home that clouded my judgement. Well at least that's my story and I am going to stick with it. Again, thanks.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Wilson View Post
    Thanks for your quick and accurate response Jerry. I was thinking they were just to close. Must have been all the homeowner special plumbing in the home that clouded my judgement. Well at least that's my story and I am going to stick with it. Again, thanks.
    If you do not have a copy of Code Check Complete you need to order a copy tomorrow! Keep it with you and use it as a tool just like you use your flashlight.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    The outlets are fine, but you should note any cords from the dishwasher that penetrate the side of the cabinet walls through holes drilled by installer.

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    You couldn't find anything because there is nothing to find.

    That is where the garbage disposer and dishwasher receptacles are frequently located. There is nothing wrong with having those receptacles down there.
    Jerry,

    Would you recommend they be GF protected?


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    The outlets are fine, but you should note any cords from the dishwasher that penetrate the side of the cabinet walls through holes drilled by installer.
    Could you expand on this? Cords through a cabinet side like for a DW are allowed by the NEC.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    If you do not have a copy of Code Check Complete you need to order a copy tomorrow! Keep it with you and use it as a tool just like you use your flashlight.
    I was unfamiliar with this book and just ordered a copy. Thanks.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Bob W, GFI protection is not required by the NEC. It could be installed if desired.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Wisnewski View Post
    Jerry,

    Would you recommend they be GF protected?
    Per the NEC, 2008 Version as currently enforced by NYS, receptacles serving a dishwasher or disposal, mounted under the sink, are NOT required to be GFCI protected. (Per the NEC handbook explanation.)

    Only those receptacles "serving the countertop" are required to be GFCI protected in a residential (one or two family) home.

    That code rule applies to refrigerator and stove/range receptacles as well.

    Some electricians choose to GFCI protect such receptacles, however; as I understand it, the 2011 NEC (considerably past the proposed adoption date in NYS) will mandate that such GFCI protected receptacles be "accessible" to facilitate the monthly testing required.

    Of course, if protected by a GFCI circuit breaker in the service panel, the accessibility of the receptacle is no longer an issue.

    If, however; such an installation was in "other than a dwelling unit" such as in an employee breakroom, it would require GFCI protection per 210.8(B)(5).

    Seems illogical to me and is often a topic of disagreement among inspectors and electricians alike.

    I'm sure you'll see that evidenced in this forum.

    What about 210.8(A)(7)?

    The NEC Handbook contains an illustration that seems to contradict the above.

    It states: "Laundry, utility and wet bar sinks - where the receptacles are installed within 1.8m (6 ft.) of the outside edge of the sink.

    There IS no definition of a "wet bar sink" but the explanation that follows states: "....This change to the 2005 Code brought GFCI protection to all areas in a dwelling unit in which a sink is installed. The text of this requirement does not limit the GFCI requirement to receptacles serving the countertop surfaces, rather it covers all 125 volt, 15 and 20-ampere receptacles that are within 6 ft of any point along the outside edge of the sink."

    Confusing?

    Yeah....it is to me too.

    Problem is that the NEC Handbook explanations are technically not enforceable to the best of my knowledge.

    So....to put this to a conclusion, I would strongly encourage electrical contractors to consider installing GFCI protection to those receptacles, however; as an inspector, I cannot compel one to do so.

    It would be nice if the authors of the NEC could clarify specifically what is desired.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port
    Could you expand on this? Cords through a cabinet side like for a DW are allowed by the NEC.
    I am looking at NEC 400.8 "uses not permitted" (2) "Where run through holes in walls, ........., etc.) and (7) "Where subject to physical damage".

    Do you have any information that says it is OK?

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  12. #12

    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    After seeing the other homeowner unhandy work on other plumbing fixtures in the house, when I saw these outlets so close to the plumbing, I acknowledge I had a brain cramp and lost my objectivity on that issue. When I did not see anything in my Code Check Complete which I keep in my clipboard with me at all times, I was thinking I just developed blurred vision on the subject. So when I got back and pulled out my 2012 copy of the IRC and did not see anything, I had to ask. I thank everyone for setting me straight and getting me back on task. I did contact my client and advised him of my incorrect evaluation and have since amended my report

    As a follow up question, does anyone think outlets like these, where they are in such close proximity to plumbing lines should have waterproof covers on them, or am I just being overly sensitive to electrical issues?


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Wilson View Post
    As a follow up question, does anyone think outlets like these, where they are in such close proximity to plumbing lines should have waterproof covers on them, or am I just being overly sensitive to electrical issues?
    If anyone were to get shocked they would think it should have been done. But it is not required.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    I am looking at NEC 400.8 "uses not permitted" (2) "Where run through holes in walls, ........., etc.) and (7) "Where subject to physical damage".

    Do you have any information that says it is OK?
    You have the correct Article 400.8.

    Here is a quote from (2):

    (2) Where run through holes in walls, structural ceilings,
    suspended ceilings, dropped ceilings, or floors

    A cabinet is not mentioned in the list. By extension the receptacle for the DW should be accessible which would mean it would need to be installed in the adjacent cabinet and the cord would need to penetrate the cabinet side.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port
    You have the correct Article 400.8.

    Here is a quote from (2):

    (2) Where run through holes in walls, structural ceilings,
    suspended ceilings, dropped ceilings, or floors

    A cabinet is not mentioned in the list. By extension the receptacle for the DW should be accessible which would mean it would need to be installed in the adjacent cabinet and the cord would need to penetrate the cabinet side.
    Jim,

    This sounds like an interpretation difference.
    I view the cabinet wall as a "wall". you view it as a "side".

    I also view a hole drilled in the cabinet wall and the cord passing through the unprotected opening in the wall an issue of - "where subject to physical damage" per 400.8 (7) - What is your view on that?

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    I don't consider the under sink area to be subject to damage. I have never had an inspector question this either.

    To me a wall is a framed construction like a stud wall with a finish material like drywall or a CMU structure.

    This is from Article 422, and is a better fit to the discussion at hand.

    (2) Built-in Dishwashers and Trash Compactors. Built-in
    dishwashers and trash compactors shall be permitted to be
    cord-and-plug-connected with a flexible cord identified as
    suitable for the purpose in the installation instructions of
    the appliance manufacturer where all of the following conditions
    are met:
    (1) The flexible cord shall be terminated with a groundingtype
    attachment plug.
    Exception: A listed dishwasher or trash compactor distinctly
    marked to identify it as protected by a system of double insulation,
    or its equivalent, shall not be required to be terminated
    with a grounding-type attachment plug.
    (2) The length of the cord shall be 0.9 m to 1.2 m (3 ft to
    4 ft) measured from the face of the attachment plug to
    the plane of the rear of the appliance.
    (3) Receptacles shall be located to avoid physical damage
    to the flexible cord.
    (4) The receptacle shall be located in the space occupied
    by the appliance or adjacent thereto.
    (5) The receptacle shall be accessible.


    Last edited by Jim Port; 08-27-2012 at 10:24 AM. Reason: added 422 quote
    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port
    I don't consider the under sink area to be subject to damage. I have never had an inspector question this either.
    Jim,

    It's interesting how we perceive things differently.

    I believe that the cord extending throught the hole in the cabinet wall under the sink is "without doubt" subject to physical damage. Just think about exposure from pulling the trash bin or dish pan and strainer out on a daily basis. Certainly that cord rubbing on an unprotected hole would be subject to damage.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port
    This is from Article 422, and is a better fit to the discussion at hand.
    ..... (4) The receptacle shall be located in the space occupied
    by the appliance or adjacent thereto.


    I don't view something that is run through a hole in the cabinet wall as " in the space occupied by the appliance or adjacent thereto." And I don't think anyone else would either.

    Jerry P. - any comments?

    Ken Amelin
    Cape Cod's Best Inspection Services
    www.midcapehomeinspection.com

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Ken, how would a receptacle in the cabinet not be adjacent to the DW? The cord length would not allow another cabinet between the DW and the sink base.

    As far as damage I would expect the cord to be in the back lower corner of the cabinet and would be shielded by the drain lines.

    All answers based on unamended National Electrical codes.

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    I don't like it either, but ...The cord set going thru the hole in the cabinet wall is shown in the manufacturer's installation manual, and that makes it OK, unless a local authority objects to it.

    I will point out that the cord should not be hanging out where it can get snagged by the umpteen cleaning utensils, recyclables and trash cans we see under the sinks. I sometimes calls for a clamp or strap to hold the cord out of the way, which will also help to prevent wear and tear.

    For the garbage disposer I will call out electrical cable hanging out without protection, flexible conduit, and without staples or clamps. If it is a flexible cord and plug set, it just needs to be tucked away in the back, maybe held back with a strap.

    Under the sink is not a wet location, or at least, it shouldn't be.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    This is from Article 422, and is a better fit to the discussion at hand.
    Specifically from 422.16 Flexible Cords.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port
    (2) Built-in Dishwashers and Trash Compactors. Built-in
    dishwashers and trash compactors shall be permitted to be
    cord-and-plug-connected with a flexible cord identified as
    suitable for the purpose in the installation instructions of
    the appliance manufacturer where all of the following conditions
    are met:
    (1) The flexible cord shall be terminated with a groundingtype
    attachment plug.
    Exception: A listed dishwasher or trash compactor distinctly
    marked to identify it as protected by a system of double insulation,
    or its equivalent, shall not be required to be terminated
    with a grounding-type attachment plug.
    (2) The length of the cord shall be 0.9 m to 1.2 m (3 ft to
    4 ft) measured from the face of the attachment plug to
    the plane of the rear of the appliance.
    (3) Receptacles shall be located to avoid physical damage
    to the flexible cord.
    (4) The receptacle shall be located in the space occupied
    by the appliance or adjacent thereto.
    (5) The receptacle shall be accessible.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Amelin View Post
    I believe that the cord extending throught the hole in the cabinet wall under the sink is "without doubt" subject to physical damage. Just think about exposure from pulling the trash bin or dish pan and strainer out on a daily basis. Certainly that cord rubbing on an unprotected hole would be subject to damage.

    I don't view something that is run through a hole in the cabinet wall as " in the space occupied by the appliance or adjacent thereto." And I don't think anyone else would either.

    Jerry P. - any comments?
    The different AHJ which I have worked in read this "(4) The receptacle shall be located in the space occupied by the appliance or adjacent thereto." as:
    a) The receptacle needs to be in the same cabinet space as the appliance.
    b) The receptacle may be one cabinet space over, i.e., in the cabinet under the sink which is next to the dishwasher and the cord may go through the side of the cabinet between the dishwasher and the sink.

    So, which is correct?

    First start here: (I've changed the highlighting for a different emphasis)
    - (2) Built-in Dishwashers and Trash Compactors. Built-in dishwashers and trash compactors shall be permitted to be cord-and-plug-connected with a flexible cord identified as suitable for the purpose in the installation instructions of the appliance manufacturer where all of the following conditions are met:
    - - (1) The flexible cord shall be terminated with a grounding-type attachment plug.
    - - - Exception: A listed dishwasher or trash compactor distinctly marked to identify it as protected by a system of double insulation, or its equivalent, shall not be required to be terminated with a grounding-type attachment plug.
    - - (2) The length of the cord shall be 0.9 m to 1.2 m (3 ft to 4 ft) measured from the face of the attachment plug to the plane of the rear of the appliance.
    - - (3) Receptacles shall be located to avoid physical damage to the flexible cord.
    - - (4) The receptacle shall be located in the space occupied by the appliance or adjacent thereto.
    - - (5) The receptacle shall be accessible.

    Is this "(2) Built-in Dishwashers and Trash Compactors. Built-in dishwashers and trash compactors shall be permitted to be cord-and-plug-connected with a flexible cord identified as suitable for the purpose in the installation instructions of the appliance manufacturer where all of the following conditions are met:" actually met?

    If not, no cord and plug. End of story. Does someone have a sample installation instruction they would like to provide.

    If the installation instructions does specify that it is allowed to be cord and plug connected (most do), do the installation instructions specify a what the cord and plug is to be identified as suitable for, such as for a "Built-in dishwasher"?

    If not, is a cord and plug allowed by the above language?

    Getting technical, yes, but sometimes that is the way to address these things first.

    Personally, I would rather have the receptacle under the sink than have to pull the appliance out to get to the cord and plug.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  21. #21
    Dennis Webber's Avatar
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard D. Fornataro View Post
    Per the NEC, 2008 Version as currently enforced by NYS, receptacles serving a dishwasher or disposal, mounted under the sink, are NOT required to be GFCI protected. (Per the NEC handbook explanation.)

    Some electricians choose to GFCI protect such receptacles, however; as I understand it, the 2011 NEC (considerably past the proposed adoption date in NYS) will mandate that such GFCI protected receptacles be "accessible" to facilitate the monthly testing required.
    Yup. Here's the wording:

    "210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Personnel. Ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel shall be provided as required in 210.8 (A) through(C). The ground-fault circuit-interrupter shall be installed in a readily accessible location."

    Although this is not related (and I could be opening a can of ..) the 2014 NEC will require all kitchen recepts to be on AFCI.

    (A) Dwelling Units. All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20- ampere branch circuits supplying outlets or devices installed in dwelling unit kitchens, family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, laundry areas, or similar rooms or are as shall be protected as described by (1), (2), (3), or (4).


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Webber View Post
    Yup. Here's the wording:

    "
    Although this is not related (and I could be opening a can of ..) the 2014 NEC will require all kitchen recepts to be on AFCI.

    (A) Dwelling Units. All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20- ampere branch circuits supplying outlets or devices installed in dwelling unit kitchens, family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, laundry areas, or similar rooms or are as shall be protected as described by (1), (2), (3), or (4).
    What is the proposal number for that change? I looked through my Report on Proposals for the 2014 and did not see that one. I did see the one that is adding laundry areas to the list of required places AFCI protection will be required.


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    They also pull a cord through the bottom of the cabinet when they mount the microwave above the range. As far as the dishwasher goes the cord set for the disposal is more vulnerable then the cord tucked in the back for dishwasher.

    Mike Schulz License 393
    Affordable Home Inspections
    www.houseinspections.com

  24. #24
    Dennis Webber's Avatar
    Dennis Webber Guest

    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by ken horak View Post
    What is the proposal number for that change? I looked through my Report on Proposals for the 2014 and did not see that one. I did see the one that is adding laundry areas to the list of required places AFCI protection will be required.
    ROP 2-80, ROP 2-82A, ROP 2-85.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Outlets under kitchen sink

    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Webber View Post
    ROP 2-80, ROP 2-82A, ROP 2-85.
    Thanks Dennis-
    I overlooked 2-82A as it was marked as "accepted in Principle" The original wording of that proposal was different than what the committee did with it.


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