I have a sump pump in an unfinished basement. It is on a dedicated 15-amp
120-volt circuit, the outlet/receptacle is on the ceiling, and it is a
duplex GFCI receptacle.
The sump pump failed because the GFCI receptacle tripped, and the basement
Are sump pumps required to have a GFCI receptacle according the National
Electrical Code (NEC) even if the receptacle is on the ceiling about 7 1/2
feet from the floor?
Could I change the receptacle from a duplex GFCI receptacle to a single
receptacle that is not GFCI, and still be in compliance with the NEC?
For whats its worth during selling home 2 seperate home inspectors
wqrote up my sump pump:(
first for no GFCI.......... sale fell thru........
\but I installed GFCI, second home inspector wrote it up saying you
should never GFCI a sump pump. second buyer bought home anyway......
I beleve a single non GFCI outlet is proper
Home inspectors are not by any stretch, electrical inspectors. If you had
five different ones, you'd probably get five different opinions.
Typically, electrical wiring is inspected and certified, when installed, and
grandfathered until such a time when changes are made to it, otherwise,
virtually all the wiring in a home that isn't 90 degree, would have to be
replaced. If the outlet that you plug your pump into was installed before
GFCI protection was required, there is most likely no legal reason why you
should have to replace it.
Thanks. I may end up going with the first option, "Cheat, and replace the
GFCI with a standard outlet", since having a sump pump that trips the GFCI
when in use doesn't make sense.
I guess I could do the second option of cutting the plug off and hard wiring
it. But, I would have to figure out how to do that because the sump pump I
have has a plug with two cords going into it -- I assume one is power to the
pump and the other is from the float switch. If I did that approach, would
I have to have a shut-off switch added to the circuit, or would the
dedicated sump pump circuit breaker be sufficient to serve as the shut-off?
Good, the main panel is less than 30 feet away and in direct sight of the
sump pump. The dedicated sump pump circuit breaker is very clearly marked
and is at the bottom of the panel away from the other circuit breakers. So,
I assume that would serve as the disconnect. I would rather do that than
have another switch somewhere that someone could accidentally turn off or
turn off intentionally and forget to turn it back on.
I would still have to figure out how the wiring in the sump pump plug is set
up. It's a molded plug and two cords go into it -- one from the back and
one from the side. I am guessing that the cord that ges into the side of
the plug is a switch loop coming up from the float, but I don't know. I
would have to figure that out if I decided to cut the plug off and hard wire
the sump pump.
Thanks. I did read something about that on an old forum when I did an
Internet search prior to my original post. I guess the concept is that the
purpose of the GFCI's in unfinished basements is to prevent ordinary users
from a shock hazard if they unplug an appliance or device (including a sump
pump) and use the receptacle for another purpose. And, I guess they assume
that would not apply for a 220-volt receptacle.
Although that means I could change the whole circuit wiring to 220 volts,
and get a new 220-volt sump pump, I don't plan on doing that. One reason is
that if somehow the 220-volt is safe enough according to NEC for the actual
use of the sump pump (without unplugging it and plugging something else in),
then that would be no more safe than me just changing the 110-volt GFCI
outlet to a non-GFCI outlet (as long as no one unplugs that and plugs
something else in).
So, I guess I'll either cheat and change the existing GFCI to a non-GFCI
outlet, or I'll hard wire it since it is less than 30 feet away from, and in
direct line of sight with, the main panel circuit breaker for the sump pump.
*The latest code edition now requires that all unfinished basement
receptacles as well as all garage receptacles regardless of their location
be GFI protected. This apparently was changed because people will plug
things in no matter where the receptacle is and what it is for. I have seen
plenty of extension cords hanging from garage ceilings to agree with the
requirement that garage door opener receptacles be GFI protected.
Unfortunately that does present a problem as you found out the hard way. I
suggest that you write to the NFPA about your personal experience in this
My thought is that there should be another type of receptacle for the sump
pump such as a twist lock without GFI protection. That would make the
receptacle unavailable for general use and keep it for sump pump use only
and thus eliminate the potential damage from nuisance tripping. If GFI
protection is required for the pump, an equipment GFI can be installed along
with the twist lock receptacle. An equipment GFI does not have the same low
threshold for tripping as the one used for people protection and
consequently is less prone to nuisance tripping.
2008 NEC, yes -- which IMHO is completely insane.
2005 and earlier NEC, no.
Yes, but note that it also says "for purposes of this section, unfinished
basements are defined as portions or areas of the basement not intended as
habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and the like."
[2008 NEC, Article 210.8(A)(5)]
So put a TV, easy chair, and your beer fridge within a yard or two of the sump
pit, and you've turned that "portion or area of the basement" into a
"habitable room" -- which means that "for purposes of this section" it's no
longer "unfinished" and therefore *not* required to have a GFCI.
There's another workaround: the GFCI requirement applies only to "125-volt,
single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles." So install a 30-amp
circuit and receptacle, and change the plug on the sump pump.
Note also that the *2005* NEC contains the same language, and additionally two
pertinent exceptions to the GFCI requirement that were removed in the 2008
Code: "Receptacles that are not readily accessible" and "Receptacles located
within dedicated space for each appliance that, in normal use, is not easily
moved from one place to another and that is cord-and-plug connected..."
So if the governing authority in the OP's jurisdiction is the 2005 (or
earlier) Code and not 2008, he apparently has no worries.
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