Updating wiring for a laundry area, I'm wondering if a GFCI receptacle should be used for the washer.

The washer manual asks for a 15A individual branch circuit. Code says if the receptacle is within 6' of the edge of a sink, it needs to be GFCI. In my case, the receptacle will be located >6' from the nearest sink edge (~10') and 15-25 feet from a water heater and natural gas furnace. (I note the water heater and furnace in the room, just in case that has any affect on the decision.)

So, a GFCI is not required, but should I opt for one anyway since a new receptacle is being installed? Given the circuit will service only a single 15A receptacle, does it need a GFCI or is being grounded with properly rated breaker & wire enough?

  • 1
    Is this washer located in an unfinished area in the basement? If it is, then it needs to be GFCI protected. You said there is a water heater and furnace in the same room, and typically those things are in unfinished areas.
    – Dotes
    Jan 16 '18 at 22:59
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    @Dotes correct - I guess that's my answer: it is required
    – cr0
    Jan 16 '18 at 23:26
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    I would ask what type of washer you have to answer if it is a good idea or not. If you have a front loader and some top loaders run the motors off of variable frequency drives (VFD's). Bot arc fault and GFCI'S have problems with variable frequency drives due th the large amount of harmonics produced by the drive. My state exempts equipment not easily moved like washers ,freezers and refrigerators. So with a washer that is run on a VFD I would say not a good idea but current code may require it in your area.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 16 '18 at 23:56
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    @cr0 if you have a GFCI breaker, then there is GFCI on the receptacle and everywhere on the circuit. If you want to stack on top of that a GFCI+receptacle combo device, then you are playing a "Yo dawg" joke on yourself. Jan 17 '18 at 3:12
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    The problem is, a second socket opens a can-of-worms of what else you would plug into it, and may violate the washer's installation instructions. If you want a single receptacle with GFCI, just install two 1-gang boxes next to each other, put a GFCI deadface in one, a 1-socket receptacle in the other. You could do it in a 2-gang box if you could find a proper faceplate. I'm not sure you could. Jan 17 '18 at 3:14

NEC article 210.8(A) lists areas requiring GFCI protection and not only are garages listed, but the last item on the list is "laundry areas", with no exceptions listed (nationally, your local codes may vary). So yes, you must use a GFCI either way. The 6' distance exception only pertains to sinks and bath tubs, not laundry areas, because it must be used in the laundry area even if the sink is more than 6' away.

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    I think the point about the distance from sinks and bath tubs is redundant. It's not relevant because you need a GFCI in a laundry area anyway, but if you didn't, you would need one for an outlet within 6' of the sink. To say it only pertains to sinks and bathtubs but not to laundry areas ignores the fact that there is a sink in the laundry area. The OP didn't know that code called for a GFCI in a laundry area so of course the distance from the sink appears relevant. Honestly I'd just recommend editing the answer to leave that part out.
    – Sam_Butler
    Jan 17 '18 at 2:00
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    With no exceptions in the NEC , my state and many others have hundreds if not thousands of exceptions, and this is just for the 2017 code how many states are on the 2011 , 2014 or have no link to the NEC at all It all depends where you live and the code version they have adopted if any at all. Table 1E in Oregon has many pages of exceptions and a few places that are tougher. Local regs even more of both harder and easier depending on your viewpoint.
    – Ed Beal
    Jan 17 '18 at 3:41
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    I amended it per comments.
    – JRaef
    Jan 17 '18 at 21:03

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