Can an electrical outlet be installed under a sink?
Yes, you can install it. People place outlets for their dishwashers and garbage disposals under the sink all the time but
- The location under the sink is not a wet area.
- It is not associated with any significant electrical hazards.
This question matters because water and electricity are not supposed to interact. This is the reason why the National Electric Code encourages electricians to install GFCIs in locations that expose electrical outlets to water.
The government wants to protect consumers from the dangers that receptacles attract whenever they encounter moisture. For this reason, some homeowners might laugh at the idea of installing an outlet under a sink.
Professional electricians have also been known to frown at this practice. But is it actually dangerous? Does it make any sense to place an outlet under sink? Surprisingly enough, yes, it makes sense. Keep reading to understand why.
Can You Place An Outlet Under Sink For Garbage Disposal?
You can place an outlet but National Electric Code has a lot to say about outlets in the kitchen. For instance:
- Outlets in the kitchen cannot be more than 48 inches apart.
- You have to place an outlet on the wall behind any countertop that is 12 inches or wider
- You cannot place an electrical outlet higher than 20 inches above the countertop.
The 2010 California Code goes a step further and compels contractors to use no less than two 20-Amp branch circuits to supply the countertop receptacles in a kitchen. They expect these same contractors to ensure that the outlets in question are positioned no more than 12 inches below a peninsular countertop.
Even though the NEC covers a lot of ground with regards to the installation of outlets in the kitchen, it doesn’t say anything about outlets under the sink. This is true for sinks in other places as well, including the bathroom and garage. You can attribute this to two factors, namely:
- Believe it or not, electricians do not consider the area under the sink to be a wet location. Some homeowners dispute this conclusion because they have to deal with leakages and spills that expose the area under the sink to water on a regular basis. However, as far as the average electrician is concerned, the location under the sink isn’t a wet area. As such, it doesn’t present any significant electrical risks.
- In most cases, receptacles that bring power to dishwashers and garbage disposals are located under the sink. In other words, it is perfectly normal for people to install electrical outlets under the sink. This isn’t a new trend.
As you can see, no one would stop you if you decided to add a receptacle under your kitchen sink. The NEC doesn’t prohibit the practice, and neither do professional electricians. That being said, you should check your local electric code before you act. The local electric code supersedes the NEC, and if your local electric code prohibits the installation of outlets under the sink, you should listen.
How To Add Outlet Under the Sink?
Some people will simply cut a hole into the wall before using a stud to mount the outlet. Others might use surface mount boxes like the Wiremold NMW35. But the question you have to ask yourself before you proceed is whether or not the outlet needs GFCI protection.
According to The Spruce,
The NEC expects all sockets within six feet of a sink to use GFCI protection.
An outlet under the sink would normally fall within the 6-feet limit. However, Jade Learning has pointed out that alterations to the NEC code have changed the way distances related to receptacles are measured.
And in doing so, these alterations have removed the need for GFCI protection where outlets under the sink are concerned. That being said, you can install GFCIs for added protection if you think they’re necessary. The process won’t change that drastically.
You are still expected to install an electrical box before running a cable (12-gauge and 2-conductor) to it in metal conduit. You can connect the GFCI outlet the same way you would in any other location.
If you want to install an outlet for garbage disposal, check out this video.
How Far Should The Outlet Be From The Sink?
The NEC expects homeowners to install an outlet within two feet of the kitchen sink. With bathrooms, the outlet should be within three feet of the sink. The outlet should be installed behind or beside the sink but not across from it. The NEC code has set maximum distances. However, it hasn’t specified minimum distances.
Height of Outlet Under Kitchen/Bathroom Sink For Garbage Disposal
The standard is 12 inches from the floor (specifically the top of the floor covering). Some people in the US follow the ‘Americans with Disabilities Act which expects contractors to position the wall outlet at a minimum of six inches from the floor and a maximum of 45-54 inches.
But that might not be an option for outlets under the sink. Your professional of choice will use their experience to determine the appropriate height for an outlet under the sink.
The Average Cost to Install An Outlet Under the Sink
The process costs you anywhere between $65 and $125. However, you have to take several factors into account. For instance, standard outlets, the kind you will most likely use, cost $3-$5. But GFCI outlets are slightly more expensive. They may cost you as much as $25 each.
It is much cheaper to use existing wiring. Replacing faulty wiring is expensive. Home Advisor expects you to spend as much as $2,100 on rewiring, $3,000 on a service panel, and $3,500-$8,000 to open the walls and run wires through before repairing the walls.
If you don’t want to do the work yourself, a professional can charge as little as $40 an hour and as much as $100 per hour. This is why it is difficult to determine the cost of installing an outlet under the sink. An electrician has to investigate your home, and the location under the sink, to determine the costs involved.
Outlet Under Sink Not Working – Troubleshooting Tips
Outlets can stop working for any number of reasons.
- They can burn out as a result of a spark or fire.
- It might be a simple case of loose connections.
- If you have GFCI protection, the outlet may have tripped, in which case you just have to reset it.
- If you overloaded the circuit, you could have blown a fuse.
Though, before you call an electrician to investigate, you should first check your appliance. Find out if it is still operational by using another outlet. Some people think their outlets have stopped working when the appliance in question is the one that is dead.
Can you put an outlet under a sink? Yes, you can. The NEC doesn’t prohibit this practice, and neither does it expect homeowners to use GFCI protection on these outlets. Additionally, The NEC hasn’t even bothered to specify the appropriate height for an outlet under the sink. Your electrician is free to install an outlet under the sink as they see fit.