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Sump Pumps and Dedicated Circuit Outlets


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Understanding Sump Pump Circuit Requirements – It is good to consider all the possibilities of failure that could occur and deal with them right away and put into place all the safe guards to make sure the project is done right the first time.


Should You Share the Sump Pump Circuit?

Can I plug a mini refrigerator into a GFCI outlet that has my Sump Pump?

  • Or does the sump pump require a dedicated outlet?

This electrical question came from: Sean, a Homeowner from Doylestown, Pennsylvania.
See more about Home Wiring for Pennsylvania

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Sean.

Sump Pump Circuit Requirements

  • If the sump pump is responsible for preventing an area from flooding then it would be best to have a dedicated circuit for it, and I would not plug anything else into it.
  • A similar example that we can compare this to would be a septic system. In my area of California, new installations of septic systems require two separate circuits, one for the septic pump and the other for the high level alarm circuit.
  • The design here is to be able to have a high level alarm if the septic pump or the pump circuit should fail. There are exceptions where you may have only one dedicated circuit which provides power to a septic system controller provided the controller has two circuit breakers which provide separate branches of power for the septic pump and the high level alarm system.
  • Considering both of these devices, the refrigerator and the sump pump, I think you would agree that it would be best if the refrigerator was plugged into a separate source of power.

Electrical Tip for Sump Pumps – Avoid a Possible Problem Beforehand

  • It is good to consider all the possibilities of failure that could occur and deal with them right away and put into place all the safe guards to make sure the project is done right the first time and prevent problems later on.
  • One such safeguard is to make sure that all sump pumps are protected by GFCI, either at the outlet or the circuit breaker that provides power to the sump pump.

The Following will assist you with your Sump Pump Electrical Wiring:

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6 Responses to “Sump Pumps and Dedicated Circuit Outlets”
  1. Bruce Cornwell says:

    If I use UF cable for a dedicated sump pump circuit does it still have to be GFCI protected? Would I need a special GFCI for the pump?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Hi Bruce – Great Question,
      Installing UF or Underground Feeder cable has no bearing on the requirements of GFCI protection. The requirement of GFCI protection will need to be addressed for the specific application, however for home installations of sump pumps GFCI protection should be included. Basically where electricity is being used around water in areas where people or animals are located then GFCI protection should definitely be used.
      I hope this helps,
      Dave

  2. Rick says:

    When people ask if something is required, by code, do not answer the question based on your opinion of what you think is best. They are asking a literal question of regulatory requirement. Therefore, if it is not required, then it’s permitted. Then you can add your opinion after that.

    So, does a sump pump require a dedicated circuit by code? No. Do you think it’s a good idea? Yes. If so, explain why so the person can understand your reasoning.

    Second, does a sump pump require a GFCI according to code? No. Exception — if sump pump is located within a crawl space or unfinished basement or unfinished part of the basment, then yes. Regardless, do you think it’s a good idea? Yes. If so, explain why.

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Rick, I understand what you are saying, but when a Local Inspector goes out to the actual Location where the device or circuit is installed he can see EVERYTHING that I am not able to see from my vantage point, and many codes are based upon the Location, that is where is the circuit installed AND what is around it, such as: is the circuit Inside or Outside, is it Near a moist area or not, is it accessible or not, what Size is the sump pump fractional HP or 1 HP or more.
      As you can see, there is NO WAY I can see everything that is actually taking place or involved with the circuit specifically, and the only way to know for sure is to be there, so since I cannot I place that responsibility back onto the one who is installing the device and circuit. Some things are very straight forward, but most things are not.
      Many of these questions contain links to the resource pages here on the website that may assist in making the right decision, but again – there are locations where parts of the NEC are interpreted literally, and areas where the code may be changed due to specific location and environmental factors.
      Dave

  3. Luis Palacios says:

    Is there a way to tell if an outlet is a dedicated circuit? Is a different colored wire, outlet, or is there a meter or tester for this?

    • Dave Rongey says:

      Luis,
      For most homes, a dedicated circuit is not identified by a special color wire or cable. Most circuits are labeled at the panel indicating that the circuit is for one device or special equipment. If you are not sure then a voltage test would be helpful to test other outlets or devices for power when the circuit in question is shut off. Inspecting the wiring inside the outlet box would allow you to see if the circuit wiring stops at that location or continues on to another location.

      Dave


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