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Guide to Home Safety Devices

  • Posted: 04.27.2021
A GFCI outlet and cover mounted on a stone wall
Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets are required in areas around water like near a kitchen or bathroom sink or outdoors, but many older homes don’t have these safety measures installed.

The National Electrical Code is revised every three years and outlines the minimum requirements for safe electrical installations. Many older homes don’t have an adequate electrical system to meet today’s electrical demands. If you are planning to renovate your home—or just want to update for electrical safety—follow these guidelines from Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI).

Safety devices

  • Arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCI): These are available as circuit breakers and receptacles. AFCs protect against electrical fires due to malfunctions. It’s estimated that 50% of home electrical fires could be prevented by proper AFCI protection.
  • Surge protective devices (SPD): SPDs protect against surges that can damage or reduce the lifespan of your electrical system and devices.
  • Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI): These are available as either a circuit breaker or as a receptacle. GFCIs protect against electric shock and are required in areas where water and electricity may come in contact.
  • Tamper resistant receptacles (TRR): TRRs function like normal receptacles but include an internal shutter system to prevent foreign objects, other than plugs, from being inserted into the outlets.

2020 National Electric Code requirements
According to the revised Code, these types of safety devices are required in these areas of your home:

  • Bathrooms: GFCIs
  • Basements and crawl spaces: AFCIs are required in finished basements and GFCIs are required in crawl spaces at or below grade
  • Bedrooms: AFCIs
  • Common rooms (family, dining, dens, rec rooms and similar rooms): AFCIs
  • Garages: GFCIs
  • Hallways and closets: AFCIs
  • Kitchens: AFCIs and GFCIs. The GFCIs are required where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces or where receptacles are installed within 6 feet of a sink
  • Laundry areas: AFCIs and GFCIs
  • Outdoors: GFCIs

More Code highlights

  • All receptacles in homes, garages, out-buildings, and common areas of multifamily homes must be protected by TRRs
  • New and replaced service equipment is now required to be protected by listed Type 1 or Type 2 Surge Protective Devices
  • Outdoor emergency disconnects are required for new construction and in homes having service replaced

Download a graphic depiction of this information from the ESFI website.