Does A Light Switch Next To The Sink Need To Be GFCI protected?

The light switch beside your sink can pose a significant risk in case of an electrical short.

Protecting your light switches, especially those near a water area, should be a significant cause of concern if you prefer safety over sorry.

You will want to do everything to ensure your electric outlets and light switches are protected in regard to the state regulations. If possible, add more protection.

When doing electrical installation in the kitchen or bathroom, one question you need to ask is;

Does A Light Switch Next To The Sink Need To Be GFCI protected?

Answer: Yes! GFCI protection is a key electrical safety feature for switches, sockets, and other electrical outlets placed in an area that is likely to get wet. Whether it is your kitchen sink or bathroom sink, it is important to ensure you protect it to prevent the significant damages that may arise when water gets into contact with electricity. For your bathroom, it is recommended that you have at least one switch that is GFCI-protected. However, most homeowners choose to have three or more outlets protected, to enhance safety precautions.

The additional protection keeps you safe and gives you the confidence to freely work around your sink.

However, before you think of other ways to keep your light switches safe, you must understand the principle behind GFCI covers.

This post will cover more on GFCI protection and safety tips for electrical outlets near a sink.

What is GFCI protection?

Before installing anything in your home, especially items that concern safety, you need first to know what they entail. In this regard, you have to know what a GFCI is and how it works.

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is a safety device that enhances electrical safety.

It can tell when there is an imbalance in electricity glow and then automatically turns on the power so that the outlet is not damaged.

If the GFCI receptacle senses the risk of getting wet, it will instantly shut down and stop any damage before it occurs.

The GFCI protects you by monitoring the flow of power current through the circuits.

If there is any interruption of the current flow, the receptacle throws an error code which immediately shuts down power.

Say, for example, if there is water on the ground that is then picked by a metal and transferred to the electrical cord through the wall, it will create an imbalance in the current.

If your outlet is not protected and experiences such an imbalance, you will get electrocuted if you touch it.

This is similar to what might happen if you leave your light switch unprotected and then touch it with wet hands.

Electrocution is such a scary thing to experience and is the reason why you are always used to practicing electrical safety every time.

With a GFCI outlet protector, safety is a guarantee.

When the GFCI cuts the electric supply, it prevents the potential electrical shock and electrocution.

Generally, the risks of unprotected electrical outlets is too high for you to take a sorry as a consolation.

It is better you spend a little extra to protect yourself, your family, and your property from risks associated with electricity shortage or fire.

At least make sure your outlets are GFCI protected, especially those near wet areas.

How Close Can A GFCI Protected Light Switch Be To The Kitchen Sink?

Water and electricity sound scary in one line! It is even worse when water gets in contact with electricity.

Apart from having GFCI protectors installed, it is also important to consider positioning when doing wiring near or around the sink.

The NEC has recommended a standard range of space for positioning a light switch near a kitchen sink.

This space should be left between the sink and the switch. Without such regulations, you may end up putting it very close to the sink and pose potential uncontrollable dangers.

Apart from the light switch, NEC also recommends having at least one outlet( socket) for a sizable kitchen.

If you have countertops measuring about or more than 24 inches in depth and a width of about or more than 12 inches, you are advised to have more outlets.

From where the kitchen outlet is, NEC recommends a space of about 24 inches from the wall.

Every outlet in the kitchen should be spaced from the other with approximately 48 inches of space.

This means a properly placed light switch should be about 24 inches from the sink. It lowers the possibility of having water splash into your sink when washing.

How Close Can A GFCI Protected Light Switch Be To The Bathroom Sink?

NEC has some slightly different regulations on light switches placed in your bathroom. The regulation insists that there must be at least one GFCI-protected outlet in the bathroom.

The protection is essential to serve the same purpose as your kitchen’s protector.

A light switch in the bathroom should be at least 36 inches from your sink.

If you have more wall space in the bathroom, it is more safe to put the switch more than the recommended allowance.

But be keen not to put it too far from the sink. Just make it sensible and accessible.

For a bathroom with a double sink, you will need two outlets with a space of approximately 36 inches from each.

Some homeowners prefer having the outlets placed some distance from the sink on each side, while others prefer to double spacing the outlets.

Not every time, you will get light switches placed 36 inches away from the sink. Because of space, some might be too close to the sink.

However, in such a case, it is advisable that you have all switches and outlets in your bathroom covered by GFCI protectors.


Keeping your home safe is a priority you should never take for granted anytime.

When it comes to matters of electricity and water ever coming into contact, you have to be more careful.

GFCI outlet protectors will be a great asset to include on your outlets, especially those near the sinks in your home.

Literally, any outlet in an area that gets wet quickly should be covered by GFCI covers.