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We just redid bathroom/ laundry and noticed that washer 3prong and gfci were beside but below washer shutoff and drain. Isn't it dangerous to be so close to a water source and why didn't contractors or inspector notice it

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Well, the GFCI receptacle will protect things plugged into it. However nothing protects the GFCI receptacle, and if water gets into the junction box behind the GFCI, it can potentially "go around" the GFCI and electrify the walls or a puddle.

The right answer to that is to move the GFCI to a location that feeds this location. This might be another receptacle somewhere, or it might be straight to the circuit breaker itself. Locate a GFCI there, either as a receptacle at that location, or a GFCI breaker. Then, place the line to this washer location on the LOAD terminals of that GFCI. Fit a plain receptacle here. Now, if water gets into the junction box, that upstream GFCI will trip and protect the wire, receptacle, and everything plugged into it.

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While I might not want it below the water connection, the GFCI is there to make sure that if there's ever a leak that causes a grounding event, it cuts the power off before it becomes a shock hazard.

Modern washer hookups are in a box designed to minimize the chance that water leaves the box. Note that the drain is lower so that any leaks go down it. The real risk would be a drain overflow, but if that happens you'll have much larger issues.

If you want to make this safer, I would put a GFCI circuit breaker on the circuit. Less convenient if it trips, but guaranteed that if water ever got in the box and caused a grounding event, the power would cut off.

  • I think you mean it cuts the electric power off rather than it cuts the water off. I think having the washer on a GFCI breaker is more convenient than having a GFCI receptacle behind the washer and so low that you can't get to it without pulling out the washing machine. Our washer is on a dedicated 20 A circuit, but is not protected by a GFCI breaker or receptacle. Our GE panel takes the 1/2" breakers and it's almost full. A GFCI breaker is 1" wide. Until I read this question it did not occur to me to add GFCI protection to the circuit. Is that standard now? – Jim Stewart Feb 21 at 1:51
  • @JimStewart You need a GFCI within 6 feet of the water hookup. There are no exceptions for a laundry room as of 2017 NEC. A GFCI breaker would do do it – Machavity Feb 21 at 2:47
  • Evidently the electrical receptacles for washer and dryer are now supposed to be 34 to 36 inches off the floor so that the machine can be unplugged by reaching over the top of the machine. In our 50-year-old house they are in the formerly standard low position and the machines are in an alcove with no side access to the machines. So one pulls out the machine partway and then rotates it to gain access to unplug it before pulling it out all the way. homeguides.sfgate.com/height-washer-dryer-hookups-99917.html – Jim Stewart Feb 21 at 12:30
  • but would that have been ok for the electrician to do wouldnt have made more sense beside it?As well as the inspector not mentioning anything – Ruth Felice Feb 22 at 2:06

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