Few years back, I asked this question: Why don't I have ground wiring on any of my outlets?

Apparently the reason I didn't see any grounding wires, was because the entire house was installed with conduit. Is this the same reason why all of my outdoor outlets are not GFCI?

I'm gearing to replace them all, and wondering if I should get all GFCI or just buy normal outlets as well as replace all the Weatherproof Electrical Box Covers.

Normal outlets seem to have worked find for over 3 decades, or has the code changed since then. Would getting all GFCI have a negative side effect?

Edit: Someone asked if the box has a GFCI device. I just tested it using a receptacle tester. Nothing happens when I press the button. Receptacle is wired correctly.

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  • 1
    Have you checked your outside outlets with a GFCI tester (plug-in type?) there may be GFCIs inside the house (they last longer when in dry locations) protecting the outlets outside the house already. One GFCI can protect all outlets on a circuit after the GFCI.
    – Ecnerwal
    Apr 22, 2022 at 3:03
  • Updated my question, is this what you're asking? I don't think any of the outlets are protected by a GFCI device inside the house. I'm 100% positive that specific ones are not because they are connected to specific breakers that i've turned off and on to do work, and there isn't a single GFCI on the circuit. Apr 22, 2022 at 3:19
  • Usually outside receptacles are fed from a receptacle inside the house. If you want GFCI protection on an outside receptacle, you can install the GFCI receptacle inside, upstream on the same circuit as the outside receptacle. That way the GFCI receptacle is not exposed to harsh outside conditions which shorten its service life. Apr 22, 2022 at 3:44
  • You only need GFCI protection on certain circuits: bathroom receptacle, kitchen near the sink, outside, garage. You do not want GFCI on the refrigerator circuit or on certain critical circuits, on lighting only circuits, in bedrooms, living room, dining room, den. Apr 22, 2022 at 3:49
  • Jim, All great suggestions, but, it doesn't really help my situation. I don't want to replace anymore outlets than I already need to replace. The plan is to replace all the remaining outdoor outlets with GFCI Pass/Seymour Legrand units. Which are way more heavy duty than what I currently have installed. If they last 15 years, ill be happy. The biggest issue are really the outdoor weatherproof boxes, they all need to go. If I'm going to open everything up, might as well just replace those old 30 year+ outlets as well. Apr 22, 2022 at 5:48

2 Answers 2


Why don't I have GFCI on my outside receptacles?

You've answered your own question:

the code changed since then.

The code has changed since 1992. GFCI wasn't required anywhere back then and, in '92 it was pretty darn new technology that was just rolling out.

Note: it was pointed out in a comment that the NEC started recommending GFCI for outdoor outlets in 1975.

Remember, though, that the NEC is simply a recommendation and that it's up to each state to ratify and adopt some version of the NEC as its state code. Some states modify the NEC for their own purposes and some cities/counties make further modifications (such as Chicago requiring conduit in residential construction which isn't an NEC requirement, nor, AFAIK, even an Illinois state requirement outside the Chicagoland area). Other states do adopt the NEC unchanged but are very slow to adopt new versions. For example, Indiana has adopted the 2008 NEC basically unchanged, even though there have been many updates to the code since then.

TL;DR: Your state may not have adopted GFCI requirements for outdoor outlets when these were installed. Or, if they had, these may have been put in by a homeowner who didn't want to spend the extra for proper replacements and didn't know/care that it was a code requirement.

You're right, your outlets have worked just fine for the last 30 years, and will, most likely continue to do so for another 30 years. Also, the technology has improved and pricing for GFCI has dropped dramatically in the last 30 years as well.

Should you add GFCI protection to your outdoor outlets? Sure, why not? It's not going to hurt anything and it will improve safety.

I see in comments on your question that you're planning on replacing all your outdoor outlets with individual GFCI outlets. I guess you're made of money, because they're still not cheap. One GFCI outlet, installed correctly, will protect all the outlets downstream of it. If you feel the need to replace the outdoor outlets, by all means, do so, however, replace them with a decent "commercial grade" non-GFCI outlet for $3-5 each and leave the $30+ GFCI outlet indoors. There are a dozen or more questions here with info on how to do so, search for "GFCI line load" and you'll probably find the proper instructions.

Also noted in one of the comments on your question is that it's generally recommended to install a GFCI outlet as the last one in the chain inside the house and use it to protect all the outdoor outlets. Indoors is much better weather protection than the "weatherproof" covers for outdoor outlets, and adding "weather resistant" to the list of features on the receptacle only increases the cost of the GFCI further for limited additional life.

Finally, you could replace the breaker for the circuit that supports the outdoor receptacles. This would put GFCI protection on everything on that circuit, including, possibly, some indoor receptacles, possibly lighting, and whatever else may be plugged into that circuit. For lighting, GFCI is not required and can be a bit of a danger (a circuit trip from outside leaves the lights off inside), or bad for an appliance that's plugged into this circuit ("why did the fridge just turn off??"), so this may not be the best option.

  • GFCIs were not new in the 90s. The GFCI was invented in 1961, patented in 1965, and were first required by the NEC in the 1971 version: nfpa.org/Public-Education/Fire-causes-and-risks/Top-fire-causes/…
    – nobody
    Apr 22, 2022 at 12:44
  • Wow, I had no idea, @nobody! Watching This Old House back in the 90s, they were talking about them as a "brand new, isn't this cool" tech then, so I made that incorrect assumption. I'd guess that this portion of the NEC was excluded from many state's adoptions, since so few houses seem to have had GFCIs until much later.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 22, 2022 at 12:46
  • I don't have historical copies of the NEC to search through, but sources online indicate that GFCIs were specifically required for outdoor outlets in 1971, 1973, or 1975. It seems unlikely that CA wouldn't have adopted that a minimum of 14 years later, but perhaps.
    – nobody
    Apr 22, 2022 at 12:54
  • Also, answer updated to include this info. Thanks again, @nobody. Also, I'm in IN, and we're currently 14 years behind on our NEC version (NEC 2008 in 2022). There are rumblings that we'll soon adopt an updated version, but who knows which one and when...
    – FreeMan
    Apr 22, 2022 at 12:54
  • My actual 1992 home has GFCI outlets protecting the bathrooms, sump, and garage.
    – isherwood
    Apr 22, 2022 at 13:05

From an NEC standpoint:

406.4(D)(3) Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection. Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter protected receptacles shall be provided where replacements are made at receptacle outlets that are required to be so protected elsewhere in this Code.

Similar wording has existed since at least 2002, so the only real question is if the local Authority Having Jurisdiction adopts the wording from the NEC. Really doesn't matter when or why protection doesn't currently exist.

Also the current code requires covers that are Listed and shall be identified as "extra-duty".

  • I agree with your statement but can also just about guarantee no home owner knows of the requirements, I have been called in many times where owners put standard 3 wire receptacles on 2 wire systems with no GFCI protection and the GFCI’s had to be added prior to a sale.
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 22, 2022 at 14:54
  • Well, Ever since i started replacing my own receptacles, I always try to get the best quality possible, because lets face it, lets the life blood of any modern house. Anyone that doesn't put top dollar into electrical or networking connections is simply insane. I've wanted to replace these outdoor outlets for like 10 years, and never had a reason until now. And I'm just going to do right the first time, and be done with it. I've decided to call my city power and water and figure out the proper outlets that need to go outside, just to be sure. Apr 22, 2022 at 21:54
  • My biggest issues are the Temper resistant outlets. I HATE HATE HATE HATE them with a passion. Every single one ive encountered has been a complete pain in the ass to get a plug inside of it. But that's the way it goes. Apr 22, 2022 at 21:55

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