What is the FHA rule for electrical outlets?

What is the FHA rule for electrical outlets?

FHA appraisals vary from conventional appraisals on various things related to the safety, soundness andcircuit tester can save realtor time and money security of the house. Some of the items that appraisers look at to determine whether they function or not can be easily inspected by the seller or real estate agent prior to the appraiser coming out, so today we’re going to look at the FHA rule for electrical outlets to show you how spending 5 minutes doing a simple inspection might save you a delay in your closing and save the buyer an additional inspection fee.

Under $10

A simple circuit tester that you can buy for less than $10 at a hardware store can be used to test the operation of electrical outlets. Most of the ones I’ve seen have a light pattern that indicates if the outlet is wired correctly or even works. For example, after I plug my tester in, it will let you know if the following conditions exist: open ground, open neutral, open hot, hot/ground reverse, hot neutral reverse, or correct. Appraisers and real estate agents are not required to know as much as electricians, however if the outlet is not working correctly it must be fixed and this little tool can help you determine that. Check out my quick tip video on how easy it is to test the outlet.

HUD has this to say about electrical outlets as well as other parts of the system:

Operate a representative number of lighting fixtures, switches and receptacles inside the house, garage and on the exterior walls and note any deficiencies. If the appliances present at the time of the inspection do not appear to be reasonable (undersized), determine if there is adequate amperage to run “standard” appliances, as per local code.

Fix ahead and avoid delays

If the appraiser determines that a problem exists then it will have to be fixed before the loan is closed per FHA guidelines. This can cause delays in the loan closing and can cost the buyer additional money for a final inspection fee. It would be better to address this issue before the appraiser visits the home so that it is not even an issue.


If you have a question related to the FHA rule for electrical outlets or anything else to add please leave a comment below, and as always thanks for reading.

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  1. do gfci outlets need to be in all the kitchen outlets?

    • The FHA does not specifically require it, however, if it is required by local code then it needs to have a GFI outlet. Also, if the appraiser believes that there is a safety issue it will be a requirement.

  2. We are in the process of buying home in TX. According to our Real Estate Agent, she isn’t sure it will pass FHA inspection with the panel box over the toilet in bathroom.My question is if the house was built in 1982 and has no structure updates or alteration will it pass FHA inspection?

    • The best thing to do would be to check with the local building department to see if it passes their codes. If it does then it should be okay with FHA.

  3. Daniel Lane says

    I am a electrician, that is why I am asking
    So do I look at what code book for my answer?

  4. Daniel Lane says

    I am a electrian, but everyone has there own thought on the 36 inch rule. Please point me to the code, that I need 2 corners

  5. Daniel Lane says

    Is there a code book a person can buy? Having a problem with a u shape kitchen saying I need 1 recp at each corner 36 inches. To my understanding it’s only one. Do we count both corners in a u shape kitchen?

    • Yes, there should be a codebook. You might want to contact an electrician to determine the most recent publication to make sure you have the latest information.

  6. Hello,
    I’m currently trying to purchase a home that was originally built in 1901. I was told we had to replace two outlets in the kitchen and the bathroom with GFI, no big deal got those done. But now I’m being told they won’t pass inspection because they are not grounded. I do have the stickers to apply that state it is ungrounded. Which is what I was told by a local electrician, I would have to have those on there for them to pass the appraisal. The rest of the house still had the old-school two prong outlets which are not grounded. But my real estate agent is stating that for FHA the outlets have to be grounded or it will not pass.

    • FHA typically follows the requirements of the local building codes. If it passes the local building inspector it should pass FHA so I would check with your local building inspector to see what is acceptable to them.

  7. The FHA appraiser here in CA insisted that GFCI plug devices be installed at each required outlet at wet location areas. The NEC requires these outlets to be GFCI protected, which can be done by the first outlet being a GFCI device wired to protect all outlets on the load side (down stream). To appease this guy, I installed them, but I’m sure he was WRONG…I could not find his “request” in any FHA requirements.

    • In addition to FHA mandated requirements, they also require the home to conform to local building codes and this may be where the appraiser is coming from.

  8. Jennifer Roskelley says

    If I’m selling a home and overlooked getting a cover for an outlet in the garage. Would that stop an appraiser from passing inspection?

    • If the lack of an outlet cover poses a safety risk then it probably will not pass. A safety risk would involve something like loose wires being exposed or some other similar situation. If there is no safety risk then it should be okay.

  9. Currently in the process of getting an FHA appraisal/inspection on a house in VT, built in 1969. None of the outlets are grounded. Can a house pass FHA guidelines with 2 prong outlets? Or is this truly subjective to the appraiser?

  10. Amy Glanzer says

    Hi Tom I have an older house that I am selling that has some 2 prong outlets that have been replaced with 3 prong but are not grounded. If we replaced all of the outlets that are not grounded eith gfci outlets would that pass FHA appraisal?

  11. Do outdoor outlets need to be GFI according to FHA rules?

  12. I am in the process of selling my home built in 1976. Live in Houston, Texas. The buyer is getting a FHA loan. The inspection report says plugs near the sinks need to be replaced, which is no problem, but my electrical panel is Federal Pacific and he says it needs to be replaced. I have had two licensed electricians look at the panel and say there is no problem In your experience, will the panel have to be replaced before closing for FHA loan? I am willing to compensate the buyers for the replacement, but would rather not have to have it done myself.

    • It is my understanding that if the electrical panel is sufficient to service the house and it passes the city building code it should be okay. I would ask the appraiser why they think it needs to be replaced.

  13. Audrey lisik says

    Tom, I’m having an inspector coming to my house on Friday(very soon) to inspect it for a FHA refinance loan. I’ve had this done years ago and I’m a little confused as to what they will look at. The gal from the appraisal office mentioned that I’ll have to have GFI(?) plugs in all my electrical outlets. I don’t recall needing that the last time with my FHA loan. The big thing then was mold & splintered paint on the foundation of my house. Should I get someone in here pronto to fix each outlet? I live in Akron, Ohio.. do states have different rules? I thought FHA was federal. You mentioned the little tool to check the plugs, if the plugs are working now what’s the reason to check them? I hope I can hear from you ASAP as I’m worried about the inspection. Thank you Audrey Lisik

    • I would just wait for the appraiser to come out and see what they say. States do not have different rules, but like you say FHA is a federal program so the requirements are the same no matter where you live. A GFI plug is one that is typically installed in an are near a wet area like in a bathroom. Is is an outlet that will shut the circuit off if a plugged-in appliance like a hair dryer were to fall in the water.

  14. Great blog post Tom. I have not done an FHA appraisal for a while and I don’t plan to do any more. However, when I did do FHA appraisals, I was bad about checking a representative number of wall outlets. Great food for thought on improving our product.

    • Thanks Gary. Yeah, we have to check at least one outlet and I find this tool to be perfect for that.

      • does the 4000.1 handbook require appraisers’ to test at least one wall outlet? Can you point to what section?

        • It is my understanding that the 4000.1 indicates that we are to look at a representative number of outlets per room and I have always been told in classes that one outlet would satisfy this requirement.

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