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I've got this lovely situation in my garage where there's an outlet right above the deep sink, and while I don't have my tape measure handy I'm fairly certain this is less than 6' from the sink, and the washer is plugged into it.

Should I seal this outlet off (with a blank wall plate)? If I do, I'll need to use an extension cord to plug the washer in since it's to short to reach the outlet in blue (about a 6' span), or alternatively I could relocate it. Or should I just put a GFCI outlet above the sink or a GFCI Breaker on the circuit and continue to use it?

The glorious situation

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NEC Article 210.8 (A)(7) Covers sinks in areas other than kitchens. All Outlets must be GFCI protected that are within 6' of the edge of any sink, and as it was already stated all receptacles in a garage should be on GFCI protection.

Although there is no specific code requirement for installing receptacles above a sink. There is NEC Article 406.9 (C) which states Receptacles shall not be installed within or directly above a bathtub or shower stall. I think common sense will tell you its not a good idea to have one above a sink. I would say this is the intent of the code.

You might think of installing a WP cover or extension ring at that location and moving the receptacle over to the washer in water proof conduit and of course GFCI protected.

The main idea is to create a safe working environment.

Good Luck

  • Yea it always struck me as odd that it was literally right above the sink. I'll either relocate it or seal it off and just put a GFCI breaker on the circuit, thanks! – Xhynk Aug 15 '18 at 17:33
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Current code in many places (ymmv since we don't know where you are) calls for GFCI outlets throughout a garage.

From a practical standpoint, a GFCI above the sink is recommended for safety, so I'd change it. (This assumes you don't have a gfci breaker or another outlet upstream that makes your sink outlet into a gfci.)

If you don't like the cord looping over your sink, be sure to get an appropriate extension cord. Look for a 15A rating and stay as short as possible. (These often get called "air conditioner extension cords".)

  • I was mostly concerned about the outlet in question because it's right over the sink, and looping cords over a sink has always struck me as, well, less than ideal. I'll probably just seal this off or relocate it closer to the washer and put in a GFCI breaker for the circuit (I'm not sure if this outlet is the first or the last one). Thanks! – Xhynk Aug 15 '18 at 17:30
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Junction boxes must remain accessible. You can put a blank cover plate across them, that will be fine.

Better to put the GFCI protection before the sink

I would go to the next receptacle upstream (toward the service panel) from this receptacle and look at the wiring there. If it's one /2 Romex cable coming in, and one /2 Romex cable coming out, slap a GFCI+receptacle there. Or, you can go all the way back to the panel and slap a GFCI+breaker there - however these tend to cost a fair bit more.

At that point, tripping this GFCI should shut power off not only at the sink receptacle, but also to the wires leading up to the sink receptacle. That way if water is splashed on the box, everything is protected. If that's true, I don't care if a receptacle is above a sink.

Use surface conduit to relocate the receptacle

If you don't have wall backside access, and want to use that box to bring power to, um, better receptacle locations, you can come off that box with a surface conduit adapter or starter plate. This sits proud of the wall, and gives you side ports where you can launch off with Legrand Wiremold, Rigid, IMC, or plain EMT (depending on the adapter). Then you can carry the wires on a (granted, unsightly) surface-mounted conduit to wherever you please.

In conduit, best to use individual wires of THHN (ideally stranded). You're allowed to use whole Romex (sheath must stay on), but that's ...painful.

  • Whoops, I suppose my wording was poor, I didn't mean to patch the wall - but rather to use a blank plate! – Xhynk Aug 15 '18 at 18:05
  • @Xhynk ok edited. – Harper Aug 15 '18 at 18:11
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I don't think so. It's above the tap, so leave it in place.

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Yes you can put in a GFCI receptacle. But remember the GFCI Receptacle you put in will also "protect" the receptacles that are wired "downstream" on that same circuit. (Downstream simply means the receptacles/devises that are going away from, not back to, the main source of the power to that receptacle). This is not too important unless you have a refrigerator or freezer plugged into a receptacle that feeds from this point,(receptacle). You can also remove the receptacle from above the deep sink, install a wire mold extension box and us that extension box as a junction box and run a piece of wire mold down the wall to the corner above the washing machine and install a new receptacle there HOWEVER the same code will apply and it appears as though you may still be within 6 feet of the Faucet so you may have the same downstream issue as noted above. IF the dryer receptacle was a bit higher up, you could do that same wire mold thing from the receptacle to the left of that dryer receptacle, running another receptacle back toward the washer, staying outside of that 6 foot perimeter. In that case then you could omit that receptacle above the deep sink and make that simply a junction box for the wires if something else is fed from it and cover the box with a blank cover over it.

  • The GFCI receptacle may also protect the receptacles downstream. You can choose. When you attach the /2 cable for the onward loads, attach to LINE if you do not want protection downstream, attach to LOAD if you do. If you are not attaching a /2 cable that immediately enters the wall, attempting to use LOAD is wizard territory. – Harper Aug 15 '18 at 17:52
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Leave the outlet, convert to GFCI breaker or first outlet in the garage and use a cover like this. These are designed to allow stuff to be plugged in and maintain a mostly water tight area. You'll at least keep your grubby hands out of the power.Do not just change that outlet to a GFCI it could still be a safety issue since unprotected power is in the box.

Stay away from extension cords, as most are insufficient for heavy loads. Extension cords are meant for temporary use and can cause more safety issues than that electrical box will. Fire and electrical codes are both designed to limit their use.

If you still don't like the box there, get an electrical pro to move it or install one closer to the washer.

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