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My laundry room currently only has 2 receptacles: a 220v for the dryer, and a 110v (NEMA 5-20R style) for the washing machine. That 110v receptacle is powered from a 20A (non-GFCI?!?) breaker in my auxiliary panel.

The thing is, I'd really like to have another 110v receptacle on the adjacent wall (to make ironing easier, have a more convenient place to house my battery-powered stick vac charger, etc.)

The easiest, cleanest way I can think of to accomplish this is to tie in to the receptacle of the bedroom that shares that adjacent wall. But I fear this might not be allowed. Is it required that all 110v receptacles in a laundry room be on the same breaker circuit?

If so, then I think I may have to run conductors in something like a Wiremold raceway -- from the washer's receptacle -- and that will offend my aesthetics. (I am open to suggestions on this contingency.)

Bonus questions:

  • am I permitted to have this hypothetical new receptacle at waist-height, rather than a foot above the floor?
  • And why was GFCI not used in this wet room? House was built in 2001.
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  • 120V and 240V. 110/220 are 50 years or more out of date.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 18 at 11:56
  • Thanks! The basics that I know about AC wiring I learned from my dad, 35 years ago. Even the 1983 movie Mr. Mom taught me "220, 221 whatever it takes". Childhood habits die hard. Sep 18 at 18:38

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As far as why the existing laundry room 120V receptacle does not have GFCI protection, it is quite likely that it was not required at the time. GFCI has, generally, been required longest in kitchens and bathrooms with laundry rooms and other areas added later. In addition, many jurisdictions are consistently several years behind the latest NEC code. A quick search says the requirement for receptacles nearly laundry sinks was added in 2005.

You can certainly add GFCI to the existing circuit, either at the breaker panel or, generally at lower cost, by replacing the receptacle with a GFCI/receptacle. But you don't have to do that to existing receptacles.

On the other hand, if you add a new 120V receptacle in the laundry room, it should be GFCI protected. (240V is an interesting situation, as the latest code may require that as well, with "latest" depending on your jurisdiction.) If you are extending it off of a bedroom circuit, just use a GFCI/receptacle in the new location and you're all set.

There is nothing wrong with multiple 120V receptacle circuits in the laundry room - I have at least 3 (dedicated washing machine circuit, telephone equipment (used to be shared, separated with my panel replacement), convenience receptacles (shared with another room)). The key code requirement is that you have one that is dedicated, normally used for the washing machine. Note that this is quite different from kitchens and bathrooms. Kitchens and bathrooms have requirements (two circuits for kitchen, one for bathroom) for dedicated circuits that can't be shared and additional circuits are, as I understand it, also not supposed to be shared with other rooms. ("Other" is a bit fuzzy - kitchen includes certain dining room and other areas. For bathrooms, multiple bathrooms can share a circuit.)

Receptacle height should not be an issue. The only problem, aside from ADA requirements, which are more of an issue in a commercial setting, is that you can't have a GFCI/receptacle (GFCI protected is OK, the issue is "getting to the TEST/RESET buttons") too high up or blocked by an appliance. Waist high is actually ideal - easily accessible by anyone except the smallest children (who shouldn't be using the receptacles anyway), and in fact is closer to the typical height of kitchen countertop receptacles. The receptacles in my laundry room are all around 3-1/2 or 4 feet up.

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  • Are there rules about how high a receptacle can be above the nearest surface? I think want this new receptacle to be waist-high, and there is nothing but floor below it (no countertops, etc.) Sep 18 at 2:56
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    @manassehkatz-Moving2Codidact I think we are saying roughly the same things, didn't see your answer while I was writing mine. I agree the existing receptacle does not have to be upgraded to have GFCI protection, but could be. Any comments on the AFCI requirements? My understanding they do apply to laundry rooms, and come into play whenever a circuit is modified or extended.
    – trawson
    Sep 18 at 3:52
  • As far as AFCI, it gets a bit tricky and may be jurisdiction dependent. One data point: My recent heavy-up - 2017 NEC (2020 coming soon but not here yet). I thought initially AFCI and GFCI would be required (big expense for AFCI breakers, much of the necessary GFCI I already have and the rest could be receptacles so minimal cost). Electrician told me - no, that is only required for new circuits (whether it would apply to expanded circuits, don't know didn't ask). So the plan (successful, passed inspection) was to not add any new circuits except some splits in existing circuits (because we Sep 18 at 4:03
  • found some doubled up on the old fuses and no need for that with a big new panel), except for the new generator inlet circuit (which was listed on the permit after much confusion...). Anyway, he did replace two existing circuits that needed to be replaced because they were physically in the way of the new panel location (old panel location unusable due to working space requirement, new panel right next to it in open area) and those both changed - 3-wire dryer to 4-wire (he said actually that technically didn't need to be redone, but we did that anyway because it was long overdue) and Sep 18 at 4:05
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    Height above floor is something like over 6-1/2 feet is allowed, but doesn't count towards required outlets. The only thing setting receptacle height limits is ADA, (so wheelchair users can access them) if applicable, not NEC.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 18 at 12:02
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A few things here:

  • To meet current code the existing receptacle should have GFCI protection BUT if you are going to upgrade for that you may need to add AFCI also -- technically the code requires it but local rules may vary. If you do have to do that it's probably easiest, though not cheap, to use a dual function 20A AFCI/GFCI breaker. If you do not have to add AFCI protection then you can just use a GFCI receptacle, which is less expensive.
  • Code requires a dedicated 20A circuit in the laundry area for the laundry equipment (typically a washer or gas dryer), located no more than 6' from the intended location of the laundry equipment. You can put other receptacles on that circuit, so you can power a new receptacle from the existing one, e.g. using wiremold as Harper described below. (Earlier I misread a plural in the code text as singular and said you could not do this -- sorry for any confusion.)
  • The code does have some rules that restrict receptacle circuits for certain rooms -- particularly kitchens and bathrooms -- as to what other rooms they can serve. But other than what's above there are no restrictions like that for laundry rooms, so you can also supply a general-purpose receptacle in the laundry room (separate from the dedicated 20A receptacle for laundry equipment) from a circuit that serves the bedroom. You need GFCI protection for that also, and the same rule applies -- since you are adding a receptacle you may also have to provide AFCI protection for the entire circuit, in which case it's probably easiest to use a dual function breaker.
  • FYI, I don't know of any place in the code where it restricts you to having all receptacles in a room on the same circuit in the way you describe. That would be a de facto prohibition on adding additional circuits to meet expected loads, which would not make much sense.
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GFCI protection for laundry rooms didn't come in until 2011? 2014? So it is grandfathered.

Even if it was not grandfathered, a GFCI receptacle would suffice. A GFCI breaker is not required.

So a GFCI receptacle at the existing location would suffice.

NEC requires one 20A circuit to a laundry room. It does not say that is the only circuit allowed. It does not say any additional circuits must be 20A.

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  • 2005 according to my quick search earlier. Which is > 2001. And depending on state may not have been adopted until years later, like 2011 or 2014... Sep 18 at 22:44
  • In my question, I also complained about the ugliness of Wiremold. (4th paragraph) Sep 19 at 4:40
  • @RyanV.Bissell Thanks for that reminder. Sep 19 at 4:51

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