One of the more boring aspects of being a DYI home renovator is dealing with codes. Obviously, we all know that codes are important to standardize practices with the ultimate goal of making construction safe for those working and living in a new or existing structure.
However, this fact does little to make sense of these regulations.
At times the idea of complying with codes can seem not only boring and confusing but downright overwhelming if you don’t have a ton of experience with regulations and the organizations who mandate them.
If that sounds familiar, I hope the following will prove helpful.
As a disclaimer: Always look into your local municipalities’ required codes when beginning a project.
I promise you, cutting corners here will not be easier in the long run.
Always Double Check with the Pros
The National Electrical Code (NEC) which is designed by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) gets updated every few years but not all states adopt the updates. Case in point, my state of Virginia is still using the version from 2014 instead of 2017 or 2019. Speak to an electrician in your area about being vigilant with safety even if your state does not require a particular practice.
How far should your kitchen sink be from an electrical outlet?
Now, let’s take a look at an issue you may run into in the kitchen. How far should your kitchen sink be from an electrical outlet? The answer may surprise you as it did me.
How close it is to the kitchen sink doesn't really matter.
First, it's required by law that kitchens MUST have Ground Fault Current Interrupter (GFCI) outlets only. This is an obvious precaution against any interaction between the outlet and a water source and essentially mitigates electrocution as a concern in the kitchen (notwithstanding negligence or improper use of an outlet, of course).
It's the Distance Between Each Outlet that Matters
Thus, outlets are allowed and even required to be 48 inches apart in a kitchen. This means you won’t have any trouble finding an outlet to use from any work surface in your kitchen and as long as that 48 inches is adhered to, how close it is to the sink is a non-issue, unless your particular state's code says otherwise..
In fact, even the smallest section of countertop (12 inches long) must have a corresponding outlet unless it is unusually shallow. These outlets need to be located on the wall and not the countertop surface itself which could prove hazardous if water got into the outlet. Additionally, outlets are not to be higher than 20 inches up the wall from the level of the countertop in most cases. These restrictions were put into place to prevent homeowners from ever having to extend an electrical cord past a couple of feet.
In a day and age when we rely heavily on electricity in every arena of our lives and expect it to be made available, the kitchen is no exception. Thankfully GFCI outlets have been the standard since the 1970s so that there is little safety concern with having an electrical outlet near a water source like a kitchen faucet.
It is comforting to know that although your home is not subject to mandatory inspections like an office building, there are standards of safety associated with home electrical systems. And, in most cases a licensed electrician can update a home from 2011 standards to 2019 standards for no more than $200. If you are concerned that your home may not meet the latest standards of electrical safety this investment may put your mind at ease and be a small price to pay for some additional safety precautions.
And as far as that kitchen remodel goes, don’t sweat the outlets near the sink.
For those who might be in the middle of remodeling a kitchen, checkout our recommendation list of best farmhouse sinks.