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I have 2ea 4 plug outlets on either side of my kitchen sink. They are about 6in away from the edge and about 1ft up. There is no GFI on either outlet. I'm wondering if this is allowed by code? My understanding is outlets near water sources have to be GFI. Also this is in CA if that matters.

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Yes, kitchen receptacles near the sink need to be GFCI protected. Since you don't have GFCI at that location, there are three possibilities to consider:

  1. They are protected at the circuit breaker with a combination circuit breaker/GFCI. The downside to circuit breaker/GFCI is that resetting it is not as convenient as at point-of-use.
  2. They are protected elsewhere in the circuit. If you have some GFCI receptacles in the kitchen but others that are non-GFCI, you may find that tripping (use the TEST button) the GFCI receptacles actually cuts power to the non-GFCI receptacles as well.
  3. Not protected! This is legal as long as the receptacles were installed before the GFCI requirements were put in place. That being said, retrofit is generally very easy and inexpensive. The complication you have is the "4 plug outlets". Those are likely 2 standard dual-receptacles underneath the faceplate. If they are all on the same circuit then you can replace just one of them with a GFCI/receptacle and connect the other regular receptacle to the "load" screws on the GFCI. If they are two separate circuits then you will need two GFCI/receptacle devices. In either case, you will need a new faceplate unless the existing receptacles are "Decora" style.
  • Approach #1 also makes testing the GFCI less convenient. – Brian Nov 20 at 15:57
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Slow down. The location may already be GFCI protected.

Do not panic and install GFCI receptacles. This location is probably already GFCI protected, because this should have been done some time ago. Let's check that.

Putting GFCI protection at a point already GFCI protected is bad, because a trip will trip all the GFCIs, and they are very difficult to get reset.

Every GFCI device has the ability to protect other outlets. Anyone smart will exploit that fact to allow one GFCI device to protect all the outlets on the circuit. (Sadly they are not so smart about applying the stickers; so the outlet gets red-flagged as not protected when it is.) We can test that. First, search for GFCI devices:

  • look at the breakers in your panel to see if any of those are GFCI breakers.

  • search the area near the panel for anything that looks like a GFCI receptacle but may not have any sockets.

  • look around in the area around the kitchen for GFCI receptacles.

Now there are a couple ways to proceed. One is you can plug a load into the socket in question, and trip every GFCI one at a time and see if this socket loses power. Another way, if the outlets are grounded, is you can get a $6 GFCI tester with 3 lights, red yellow and yellow. If 2 lights come on, you are grounded and the "Test" button will work. See if it trips a GFCI somewhere.

If either test confirms that it is actually GFCI protected, stick a sticker or some other marking that says "GFCI Protected". That satisfies the GFCI requirement.

  • If you don't have a sticker, I believe you are allowed to neatly write same on the cover plate with a Sharpie... – Jimmy Fix-it Nov 20 at 2:52
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    Your projected panic cracks me up, Harper. Who was going fast? :D – isherwood Nov 20 at 3:39
  • Thanks, there rid only one GFI in the entire house and it's in the bathroom. I'll check next week when I get home and see if the kitchen outlets are on the same branch. – rasmukri Nov 20 at 19:11
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    @rasmukri You may want to keep while you're testing this that all plugs in the kitchen may not be on the same circuit. – canadianer Nov 22 at 0:24
  • I went and tripped the GFI in the bathroom and the only outlet it tripped besides the bathroom was the garage outlet. Both the kitchen receptacles still had full power. I checked the breaker box and added pictures to my original post. The very top one is the kitchen outlets by the sink. The second pic is the side sticker on that one if it matters. – rasmukri Nov 25 at 23:31

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