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When it comes to buying a home, it can be stressful during the home inspection. All home buyers want to ensure that all systems of the home are working properly and up to code. As far as electrical requirements for the home, the national electrical commission will dictate what is required by professional electrical contractors to install. This is for your safety and the functionality of the home. Purchasing a home with or building a finished basement is a great luxury. One of many items to keep in mind is how are you going to wire the electrical layout. Are GFCI outlets required in finished basements? Yes, any part of the home that could have access to water or flood conditions.

Let’s take a look below at what all of this means.

What Are GFCI Outlets

If a ground fault occurs in your circuits, the GFCI’s job is to quickly shut the power off. GFCI stands for ground-fault-circuit interrupters. Also known as GFIs. These types of outlets have built-into safety devices to protect the homeowner from getting an electrical shock. Additionally, the GFCIs will trip a breaker if a power tool or appliance is being used and there is a power overload. Let’s take a look at what a ground fault can cause.

  • Using equipment in a wet area.
  • Plugging in an appliance or tool that is faulty or not working properly.
  • Any type of damaged cord or wiring that is used.

Will I Need Them In My Finished Basement

The question is are GFCI outlets required in finished basements? Just like was stated above, to protect your family from potential electrocution, it is required that GFCI outlets are installed in all areas of the home that could have access to water. Water intrusion in the basement could cause flooding. Also, if a GFCI outlet is not installed to cut off the breaker at the moment water has entered the electrical system, you could end up creating a very unsafe environment. Consequently, no matter if the basement is finished or not finished, it is required by NEC code to install GFCI outlets.

How Do I Reset One

It is fairly easy to do if you are unsure how to operate a GFCI outlet. There are two buttons on the outlet and one is to reset but un-trip the outlet connection. Let’s take a look below at the steps we take to do this.

  1. If you aren’t sure, check your appliances to see what is working. Also, check the light on the outlet itself. The outlet will tell you if it has tripped.
  2. Find our circuit breaker box. Open the box and look for any tripped circuits. Flip them back to reset inside the breaker box.
  3. Turn off the breaker box. This will reset any breakers that have tripped and ensure that all circuits are aligned. Once you have been able to reset all tripped circuits, flip the breaker box back on.
  4. Go inside the home and find the tripped GFCI and push the reset button.

If at any point you are experiencing electrical troubles with this process, reach out to your local professional electrical contractor.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know about GFCI outlets, let’s look at a few more maintenance areas. One of those is making sure you don’t have Challenger GFCI breakers. If your home was built after 1998, you may have the Challenger panel. You will know this by looking at the panel door and if you see the words, “Challenger”, you may have the recalled breakers.

Another area is mold in the basement. Unfortunately, mold can travel up the stairs and infect the rest of the home. This is because it can be in the walls or travel under the carpet. It can also travel through the air conditioner and heater.

Lastly, sometimes there are bad circuit breakers. You can tell this if there is a burning smell, the panel box is hot to the touch, or the circuit trips frequently. It is important to take care of this quickly and contact a professional if you have any issues or questions.

GFCI switches are needed in your finished basement.

When Do I Call A Professional

Making sure that your electrical system is set up properly will require a professional. It is not recommended that you begin installing new GFCI outlets on your own. There are certain areas, such as grounding the necessary outlet, and you want to ensure that the wiring is done correctly. In this case, hire a professional electrical contractor to complete the project. Also, this ensures that you are keeping your home safe from a potential electrical fire. If you aren’t sure who to call, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect your electrical system and refer you to a reputable professional.


When it comes to inspecting the outlets of a home, the homeowner rarely does this properly. In most cases, it is simply due to a lack of electrical knowledge. To keep your home safe, you should always utilize a professional electrical contractor. Building out your basement and creating a comfortable finished living space is a big investment. For this purpose, protect your investment by using the right professionals. Additionally, before you hire any contractors, be sure to have the basement inspected by your local home inspection team. They will be able to pinpoint areas that need improvement and recommend the best ways to keep the basement from flooding. Call on Enviroquest Home Inspections for a basement and complete a home inspection in Harrisburg, PA.

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