My old dishwasher was wired direct with metal jacket cable, and there is a regular wall switch on the counter backsplash that cuts power to the dishwasher. House built in 1987. Live in NC.

There is an old box where the romex connected to the metal-jacketed cable (called BX IIRC) at the back of the spot below the kitchen counter where the dishwasher goes. Can I just put an appliance outlet in that box and a GFCI in the place where the switch is now and be kosher with code?

There is a 2 x 4 between where the wire comes down from the switch and the under sink area so I would have to tear out and re-sheetrock the back of the dishwasher alcove to mount the outlet under the sink, and I really don't want to go through all of that. The GFCI would give us another outlet behind the counter and could be more easily tripped and reset than if I did it up under the sink.

The extra cord length could be pulled through the hole the water supply and outlet hose pass through under the sink as it suggests in the dishwasher install manual.

Is this cool with National and NC code?

Thanks guys!

mr coffee

  • 2
    I admit I got confused about what is where and where you want to do what :) Could you post photos of the areas you're talking about? Especially where the wiring and piping for the dishwasher currently is?
    – Armand
    May 31, 2022 at 19:18
  • 1
    Where would the GFCI go? On the counter and change the switch to a GFCI? If you already have 2 countertop circuits this could be a possibility but I was not sure that was your plan. If the DW it tapped from the counter top circuit it would be a code violation to feed the DW today.
    – Ed Beal
    May 31, 2022 at 19:22
  • I have a separate circuit for the countertop outlets, and I was hoping to get rid of the annoying and useless switch for the dishwasher line (guests flip the switch trying to turn on the over-the-sink light, and even after all these years, it occasionally takes a few minutes to suss out why the dishwasher is dead, especially before coffee.) I would like to turn the switch box into something useful, GFCI or otherwise, although putting a GFCI breaker in the box would be OK too. Would even a single outlet on the counter be a violation of code if it's on the Dishwasher circuit? Jun 1, 2022 at 0:54
  • Yes, that would be a violation. There is actually an additional violation if the dishwasher is hard-wired (which I recommend, one less point of failure - why have a plug/receptacle if it is never unplugged) - on a circuit with hardwired loads >50% of circuit capacity you are not supposed to have any ordinary receptacles. Jun 1, 2022 at 3:47
  • 1
    In any case, a dead-front GFCI will be unusual enough that most people won't press it. But the big question I have for you is: Why do you need any switch for the dishwasher? The only time I recall such a thing is in the house where I group up we had two dishwashers and a switch to be able to use only one at a time, though I believe the reason for that was limited plumbing, not electrical. From a safety standpoint, if you need to turn off the dishwasher to work on it, the circuit breaker is the way to do that. And if you want to stop mid-cycle, just open the door. Jun 1, 2022 at 3:49

2 Answers 2


You've got three options:

  • New receptacle, GFCI in place of switch

To do this, you will need to use a dead front GFCI that is designed to be used as a switch. This does not have any plug-in receptacles on it. It just has a combination RESET/ON button and a combination TEST/OFF button. Or it could have RESET/TEST buttons and a separate switch - as long as it has testing capability, a reset function and is designed to somehow function as a switch, you are all set.

You can't use the standard "GFCI + duplex receptacle" because then you violate the rule that countertop receptacles can't feed other stuff (with some very narrow exceptions).

  • New receptacle, GFCI breaker

Replace the hardwired connection with a receptacle and plug in the dishwasher. Leave the switch as is. Replace the circuit breaker with a GFCI breaker.

  • Hardwire the dishwasher

Check the installation manual for the dishwasher. If it provides for a hard-wired installation, you can do that. That will require replacing the provided cord/plug with an appropriate cable from the dishwasher to the existing junction box.

Note that if you do this, you probably don't have to add GFCI, since you are not installing a new receptacle or changing the circuit. However, you certainly can add GFCI, either in place of the switch or in place of the circuit breaker.


Alternatively, you could see if your dishwasher brand has a kit to hardwire it to the power line. I'm currently installing a new Bosch dishwasher at my house and ran into the same situation. Bosch has a hardwire kit that lets you connect the power line into it and then out of it runs a power cord that fits into their dishwashers. That makes things really easy. Their hardwire kit is described here: https://www.bosch-home.com/us/shop-productlist/dishwashing/accessories/installation-and-built-in/power-cords/11031987


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.