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I have an interior wall that sits perpendicular to an exterior patio door starting about 8 inches from it. (See diagram below). I've been looking all over and haven't found any rules about how close an outlet can be to an exterior door, sliding or otherwise. Is there a minimum distance? The outlet is currently 24 inches from the door, but when moved will only be 10 inches. I have to move this outlet further down to fit pocket french doors into the living room.

eHow had an article about maximum distance, and I tried wading through building code but didn't find anything in particular to Washington State or in the NEC.

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There is no minimum distance specified in the NEC. It can be as close as is physically possible given the constraints of framing, trim, etc. There's several rules about maximum distance and spacing and when to include door swings or not, and what constitutes a usable wall requiring outlets in the first place. But no minimum.

Now, conceivably, someone could interpret that since the outlet is within 6 feet of a "damp" area (patio) that it may need to be GFCI protected. I personally believe this stretching the intent of the NEC too far since the theoretical appliance in a damp area would have it's cord running through an open exterior door into a different room.

There could be other requirements by Washington state or your local jurisdiction. The NEC is mute on this matter, but you should inquire with your local building authority to be absolutely sure there are no other applicable requirements or "creative" interpretations of GFCI requirements.

  • Good point on GFCI. If there are no outlets on the patio, it's very possible someone might plug something on the patio into this outlet and just run the cord through the door, so there is actually sense there in having it GFCI-protected as a safety measure; whether an inspector interprets it this way, I don't know (and it probably varies by inspector). The better solution, of course, is to ensure there is an outlet outside (which has to be GFCI-protected) and thus avoid this issue. – gregmac Jul 23 '13 at 16:34

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