I am in the middle of a basement finishing project and plan on upgrading two 15amp breakers to 20amp and re-running with correct wiring to support 20amp load. Do all my outlets need to be GFCI given that the basement is more than 50% below grade? Or does the bathroom I'm putting in need GFCI only?

Additionally, are tamper resistant plugs mandatory per US residential code? I read somewhere they are but my house doesn't have them?


  • GFCI breakers are not easily accessible in case of a trip, which is why GFCI outlets are more common. GFCI protection is required for bathrooms and other potentially wet areas. Arc-fault breakers are required for bedrooms and other areas. You should simplify your question to ask about each scenario. There is no one answer as you've asked it.
    – isherwood
    Jun 13, 2017 at 19:19
  • It goes without saying that you install a single GFCI per circuit at the first receptacle past the panel, and use the LOAD terminals to feed the downstream plain outlets. That way your basement needs 1-2 GFCIs tops. Jun 14, 2017 at 0:00

2 Answers 2


You'll want to run 12-2 wire to accommodate the 20 amp breakers. And as far as the gfci outlets are concerned. You utilize them anytime your dealing with water, like in bathrooms kitchen sinks, laundry rooms, and exterior receptacles, as well as crawl spaces and basements below grade. You need to check with your local electric company to find out what the critical distance is for receptacle placement. In my area they need to be placed within 4' of sinks, and I can run 4 additinal outlets off the same gfci wiring. However, the nec codes may have changed, since I ran my electric. Your electric company will be able to tell you what you need to know. Just ask them to to let you talk to an inspector, and they'll tell you requirements for your local area. Some codes are locally regulated, while others are Nec controlled. Good Luck!

  • 2
    The authority here would be the building inspection department of your city/town/municipality, not the electric utility. At least, that's what's typical in the US. Jun 13, 2017 at 22:04
  • Sorry, but where I live in Kentucky, everything went through their inspectors stationed at the electric company. The building inspector here refers everyone to the electric company; at least in my county, for their electrical needs, weird huh
    – rsschuler
    Jun 15, 2017 at 15:07

This is in answer to the second part of your question. Yes I believe the 2011 code required all new residential dwellings to have non-tamperable devices. Most likely your house was built before this code was in effect. So it falls under a "grandfather clause" meaning all electrical work in your house has to meet the code it was built under. Except: When you do a remodel or an addition the new area shall be installed under the new code in effect. Probably 2014 NEC.

So you could have a house where multiple codes are in effect. Depending on when the year remodels or additions were installed. Most municipalities have limits on how much addition or remodel can be done before the entire dwelling must be brought up to code. That's why you need to check with your municipality or AHJ as to what they require.

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