August, 2009
News in Brief
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors

Code Question Asked and Answered in 12 Hours


When something doesn’t add up for ASHI Certified Inspector Bob Sisson, Inspections by Bob, Gaithersburg, Md., he goes looking for answers. That’s what he did when he had a question about GFIC and receptacle requirements for kitchens.

Since he is a member of the International Code Council, he was able to ask for an interpretation via the ICC’s Web site. When 12 hours later he had his answer, he decided other home inspectors might be interested in the answer and also would like to know about the quick turnaround service available from ICC.

Sisson’s Question

“Code Edition: 2003, Code Section: E3801.3 and E3802, Code Question:

“Since before 2003, it has been required that (2) 20A Small Appliance circuits be provided in the kitchen.  Since 1987, it has been required that the circuits near water be GFCIs. What I am seeing in kitchens EXCLUSIVELY is 20A circuits with 15A receptacles and 15A GFCIs.

“I can almost understand the 15A Receptacles as no one appliance should be more athan 15A, but am I correct in that since multiple receptacles can feed through the GFCI for the small appliance circuits that those devices should be 20A devices?

“My test is that if I were to put the GFCI device in the electrical panel, rather than in the kitchen as a receptacle, it would HAVE to be a 20A device.
“A follow-up question is ... Should ALL of the devices on the 20A small appliance circuits be 20A-rated devices or is it “permissible” to only have the GFCI feed through device as a 20A device?

“As a note ... I have never seen a 20A GFCI or 20A receptacle used in a new construction kitchen (Nema 5-15 vs. 5-20).

Bob Sisson, Inspections by Bob, ASHI Member # 212016, MD Home inspectors License #29666

The Answer

“Subject: FW: 06 IRC E3801.3 & E3802 (GG)

“Bob, what you are seeing is the norm, and it is code compliant. Sections E3602.13 and E3902.1.2 both clearly state that both 15- and 20-amp receptacles are allowed on 20-amp branch circuits. In my experience, 15-amp GFCI receptacles are rated at 15-amp for the integral receptacle and also rated at 20-amp for feed-through. That is why you see 15-amp GFCI receptacles feeding other receptacles on a 20-amp circuit.”

Gregg Gress, Senior Technical Staff, International Code Council

For code questions, go to the ICC Web site,

Minnesota Adopts Child Safety Law

A toddler’s fall from an unsecured fourth-floor window — and her miraculous survival — have resulted in the first legislative act regulating window safety to be passed in the United States. The law goes into effect July 1, 2009, in the state of Minnesota.

Called Laela’s Law after the fortunate tot, who was just shy of her second birthday when she fell in 2006 and has since fully recovered, this regulation is intended to safeguard children from accidental window falls. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, nationwide some 4,000 injuries and up to a dozen fatalities are reported each year in such incidents. Laela’s Law calls for the installation of fall prevention devices in most multi-family buildings constructed after July 1.

ASTM F2090-08 originally governed the installation of safety devices such as window guards to reduce the potential fall hazard for residential windows. The standard was updated earlier this year to include window opening control devices, a new type of hardware that automatically restricts windows from opening more than 4 inches, yet is easily released in an emergency, such as a fire, to allow occupants to escape. Incorporating these devices into window installations also helps train parents and caregivers to limit window openings when children are around.

Source: Mighton-USA, manufacturer of Angel Ventlock.,