I was really surprised that a city inspection did not pass based on regular outlets in an unfinished room in the basement. They are correctly jacketed and all of that stuff. They are simply requiring GFCI outlets on everything. Not many houses I sell have city inspections but was surprised. Is this new or been for a while or just something city is making up?

  • Did not know answer to question, but reading another older question, it does seem to be required in unfinished basements. here is link to question, last paragraph of question. diy.stackexchange.com/questions/177520/…
    – crip659
    Mar 6, 2021 at 1:36
  • Basement, not "all unfinished areas." Feel free to write up an answer, I'm just going to post a link - NEC2020 removed an exception, evidently. ecmweb.com/national-electrical-code/quizzes/article/21122175/…
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 6, 2021 at 3:22
  • @Ecnerwal - wow. I did not realize this. First time I had a city inspect using 2020 (verified it after your comment). And to do this retroactively. It isn't a big deal - just swapping a few outlets but it was a surprise.
    – DMoore
    Mar 6, 2021 at 3:38
  • If you sign up for a free membership you can view any edition of the NEC for free at nfpa.org/codes-and-standards/all-codes-and-standards/… Mar 6, 2021 at 4:16
  • Just to be clear, the NEC has required unfinished portions of basements to have GFCI protection at least as far back as 1999, and wasn't expanded to all (except alarm) basement receptacles until 2020 (subject to AHJ adoption). Mar 6, 2021 at 16:50

1 Answer 1


GFCI outlets are not required anywhere.

In places GFCI protection is required, plain outlets can be protected by a GFCI device elsewhere (GFCI breaker, GFCI deadfront, or GFCI receptacle). Doing so is the one and only legitimate purpose of the GFCI's "Load" terminals. They should be used for nothing else; the "Line" terminals get all other wires, and they take 2 wires per screw.

When a plain outlet is protected by a GFCI elsewhere, it MUST have a label saying:

GFCI protected

and a pile of them come in every GFCI box.

Obviously, nobody ever does that LOL... and then, they get written up for it. And very often, this is interpreted as "You need GFCI receptacles there". Never true.

You need stickers there. The stickers have to be not lying.

If the sticker is there, and a cheapie GFCI tester trips a GFCI somewhere, that's good enough.

I find the default blue stickers ugly, and I prefer to make my own on a Brother or P-touch labelmaker. On a white cover plate they look perfectly fine. I also consider it helpful to add a line stating where the reset is located.

  • I believe you and inspector knows me... He said I need GFCIs everywhere - in unfinished areas - laundry area- or a GFCI breaker. His quote
    – DMoore
    Mar 6, 2021 at 6:05
  • Already upvoted... but small comment about your stickers. If I create my own stickers (I am licensed for my properties in a bundle of towns) there will be some major shade thrown. I might as well label it "spits out golden eggs"... the cheapos from the box that look ugly may be ugly but they look more real than from a "brother" label maker. But you aren't saying anything wrong - comment is for the non-electricians doing their home right. (to clarify if doing your own electric, put the label maker away!!)
    – DMoore
    Mar 6, 2021 at 6:13
  • @DMoore well, that's semi-accurate. A GFCI at the first receptacle location in the chain would also suffice, but only if you use the LOAD terminals competently. GFCI breakers pretty much force you to do that, but it's easy with GFCI receps to daisy chain each GFCI off the previous GFCI's "Load" lines. It's not dangerous to do that, but if it ever trips, you'll play Tower of Hanoi getting them all to reset lol. Mar 6, 2021 at 6:13
  • Ok see that is what I thought. He does my inspections all the time - he knows me. He signs off on my bathrooms where my first GFCI is load... so he understands that I understand that principle (this is not rocket science)... maybe it is something arbitrary for this town so they are 100% sure without tearing the outlets out on the circuit?
    – DMoore
    Mar 6, 2021 at 6:15
  • 1
    The GFCI sticker requirement is old. Any inspector who writes it up is quite correct to do so. The problem with "*secret GFCIs" is that the next guy doesn't know the secret, and will react by being afraid to use the socket, or converting it to GFCI "since it isn't". They are not stupid for doing so. Mar 6, 2021 at 6:31

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