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Thread: Bathroom/Outdoor GFCI Circuits

  1. #1
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    Bathroom/Outdoor GFCI Circuits

    Question on bathroom wiring:

    My understanding is that the 2011 NEC allows for a single 20A branch circuit to supply all electrical requirements for a single bathroom, as long as that bathroom is the only room on that circuit. (NEC 210.11.C3)

    GFCI protection is required on all receptacles in a bathroom.

    Does this mean I can put the GFCI downstream of light switches? I have an electrican telling me the opposite - that the light switches have to be downstream of the GFCI. This seems to be a more risky scenario because someone will be left in the dark if they pop the GFCI.

    I also have a similar situation outside...I need to supply an electric gate with power. If I wire a couple outdoor receptacles in the same circuit, can they be downstream of the electric gate?

  2. #2
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    You may not want to look at this then. I know I didn't want to see it.

    http://www.placer.ca.gov/Departments...Detectors.ashx

    Weather allowing, I'm upgrading my electrical service on Monday. I learned long ago (not in a bad way, but from making other wiring changes) that the bathroom outlet is on the same circuit as the two small bedrooms, is only 15A, and is not GFCI. I tried to install an GFCI breaker I had but it tripped when it shouldn't have, so I put the circuit back the way I found it. I've purchased a new one to install during the upgrade that I hope will work (ie., hold and not trip tempermentally).

  3. #3
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    I tend to put lighting on a separate circuit from receptacles for exactly the reason you mention - not being in the dark if you trip a breaker. To me, the same would apply with the GFCI in most cases. However, there is the small chance that you could be shocked by the lightswitch - say, while standing in the shower, wet, and reaching out to turn on the exhaust fan or such - and that the switches must also be protected. So I can see his point.

    For the second, I suppose it would depend upon the risks of being shocked by the gate opener system. But I'd say that the gate is not required to be GFCI protected, only the outdoor outlets, so you could have the GFCI in the first downstream receptacle from the gate.

  4. #4
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    Personally I don't put lights on the same circuit as outlets anywhere.

    But I'd contact the local building code enforcement office and see what is applicable to mee local building codes. Personally, I have found the inspectors to be a wealth of information, and in one or two cases made suggestions that not only were useful but saved me some cash.
    Ken

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fitzgerald View Post
    But I'd contact the local building code enforcement office and see what is applicable to mee local building codes. Personally, I have found the inspectors to be a wealth of information, and in one or two cases made suggestions that not only were useful but saved me some cash.
    Ha! I tried that. "Due to possible liability issues, I'm not at liberty to tell you how you can wire anything. You'll need to follow the NEC or hire an electrician." said the code enforcement officer. My reply was "The electrician would like to know how you would like to see a few items done. The NEC is not specific enough to cover these situations." His reply was "He or you will need to wire it per the NEC and I can tell you if it meets the requirements during the inspection."

    The items in question were 1: when installing a second ground rod that must be 6' from the first, do you want the 15' of wire run on the inside of the house or the outside. (because the first rod is directly under the panel through the slab in the basement, the ground wire needed to go up, out, around the corner, along the house, then down to grade, and out to clear the footer a total run of almost 15') 2: There were no GFCI or Arc fault breakers installed when the house was originally built, are GFCI and arc fault breakers required for a renovation?

    I have since contacted another town's code enforcement officer and gotten responses (1: Outside as much as possible; 2. GFCI-Yes, Arc Fault-No). Hopefully my officer likes their answer.

  6. #6
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    I live in a mobile home and one GFCI only cover the plug-in in both bathrooms and the weather-proof rep. outside

  7. #7
    Older (80's) versions of the code permitted one GFCI to daisy chain to all the places it was required (bathrooms, outside, etc...).

    Will is right on the bathroom circuits in the modern (at least since 2000) codes. A circuit serving the receptacles in the bathroom can only be shared with either the other outlets (Lights, fan) in that bathroom or (exclusively) with receptacles in other bathrooms. The GFCI only needs to protect the receptacle except that certain light/fans for wet areas spec being GFCI protected as well (which you are obliged to follow). While it's not improper to put other outlets on the GFCI, as pointed out, it's usually not done.

    The tripping GFCI in the other post is possibly because it's really a MWBC or there's some improper connection of circuit conductors somewhere.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Natalie View Post
    The tripping GFCI in the other post is possibly because it's really a MWBC or there's some improper connection of circuit conductors somewhere.
    MWBC?

    I was installing a GFCI breaker. What type of wiring error or connection issue would cause the GFCI to trip? It doesn't trip immediately like a short and I didn't see any obvious errors (like Hot and neutral swapped half way through the run)

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Whitesell View Post
    His reply was "He or you will need to wire it per the NEC and I can tell you if it meets the requirements during the inspection.
    Don't you love 'em? The one we have in our town seems to forget often that he is there to "help" the folks paying his salary with the taxes they pay. He drives around town early in the morning to see if there are any deliveries made so he can check if permits pulled. But when you need his advice in advance, his reply is very much in the line with the above example.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ruhi Arslan View Post
    Don't you love 'em? The one we have in our town seems to forget often that he is there to "help" the folks paying his salary with the taxes they pay. He drives around town early in the morning to see if there are any deliveries made so he can check if permits pulled. But when you need his advice in advance, his reply is very much in the line with the above example.
    Yeah, one would think he'd rather help how he can and make one trip out for an inspection, rather than multiple trips.

    The building inspector here tried to tell the guys putting in my privacy fence around the pool that the posts had to be 4' in the ground. Code says that 1/3 of the above ground height of the post is the amount that goes in the ground. 1/3 of 96" is slightly less than 32". He then went on to explain about a billboard that blew over, in which the posts snapped at the ground as the reason for needing 4' in the ground. Huh? If the posts snapped, it had nothing to do with how deep they were installed, and everything to do with the material used and how high the billboard was off the ground (lever effect). He made a phone call, came back and said they were good to pour the concrete for the posts.... (at 32"), and left.

  11. #11
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    Ask your inspectors which section of the code they are citing. As the Building Official, I get that question asked every day, and it doesn't bother me, unless it's asked in a hostile manner. Regardless, it keeps me honest and keeps me on my toes to verify that I am indeed enforcing the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code, which is my only job. I don't get to enforce my own personal code.

    It's news to me about the 1/3 ration-post-thingy you cite, where are you finding that in the residential code about a pool barrier? At least your inspector had the common sense to call someone and ask them if he was right, a lot of them won't do that, due to pomposity issues. And remember, some inspectors are not allowed to use common sense. Everything must come from the book, in their world. In the real world, everything doesn't fit in a box. It's a shame that some departments don't allow for some individual thinking.

    I DO feel like I am there to help folks, they DO pay my salary. But put yourself in the code enforcers' shoes for a moment: Joe Shmoe waltzes into your office and declares as how he once hooked up a Lionel train set for Junior Joe Shmoe and now he is an authority on All Things Electrical. He doesn't know neutral from ground or arc fault from her fault. I WILL ask this type of person to hire a qualified electrician. This isn't like driving a 16d finish nail in a piece of shoe molding, this is electricity, and it can kill. On the other hand, I will attempt to suggest different ways to get the to the end result, and then let them decide how they want to proceed. Much easier scenario, which is what I see most of the time, is folks call, tell me what they want to do and if I will approve it like that.

    Not all us code guys are jerks. Most of the people that I see live in the community. They are my neighbors and my customers and I treat them as such, politely.

    Rich

    For Ray, "I live in a mobile home and one GFCI only cover the plug-in in both bathrooms and the weather-proof rep. outside" Manufactured Housing (singlewides and doublewides), are regulated by Federal code, not state. Sitework, like piers, elec. hookup, etc., is governed by local/state code, but the home is built under Fed code.
    "The best way to get better is to leave your ego in the parking lot."----Eddie Wood, 1994

    We discovered that he had been educated beyond his intelligence........

    Student of Rigonomics & Gizmology

    Waste Knot Woods
    Rice, VA

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fitzgerald View Post
    Personally, I have found the inspectors to be a wealth of information, and in one or two cases made suggestions that not only were useful but saved me some cash.
    Thanks Ken, made my day!!!
    "The best way to get better is to leave your ego in the parking lot."----Eddie Wood, 1994

    We discovered that he had been educated beyond his intelligence........

    Student of Rigonomics & Gizmology

    Waste Knot Woods
    Rice, VA

  13. #13
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    I didn't mean to imply a dig against him or any code enforcement officials. I do understand where he is coming from. If I was in his shoes and some walked in and asked "I want to do xxxx, how do I?" I too would answer, hire an electrcian. If someone asked "How deep does the ground rod need to be buried?" I would (review the NEC and) answer. Or if asked "How would like like to see this (specific item) done?", again I would review the applicable code and show it to the inquirer, or if not covered by the codes provide a straight answer (probably in writing to CMA).

    I was dissappointed that I could not receive any answers, especially for the the questions that were off-book not covered by the NEC. Sorry for the babble, but thank you all for your help and time. I have contacted code enforcement and PoCo and I will be doing the upgrade on Monday (weather permitting).

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Whitesell View Post
    ....If someone asked "How deep does the ground rod need to be buried?" I would (review the NEC and) answer. Or if asked "How would like like to see this (specific item) done?", again I would review the applicable code and show it to the inquirer......straight answer...... Exactly what should transpire.

    I was dissappointed that I could not receive any answers, especially for the the questions that were off-book not covered by the NEC.And rightly so, you deserve an answer, that's part of my job. .....
    Wish I could help with your GFCI issue, but VA just adopted the 2008 NEC, three more years until we look at the 2011.............. 2009 IRC & 2008 NEC, which is what is in effect now in VA, says at least 1 20a GFCI circuit for receptacles in bath, serving no other areas, and does not prohibit other equipment, i.e., lighting, but doesn't specifically require it. Is this a change in the 2011? Looks like to me this could mean no GFCI or AFCI protection for lights in a bath? interesting............

    Rich
    "The best way to get better is to leave your ego in the parking lot."----Eddie Wood, 1994

    We discovered that he had been educated beyond his intelligence........

    Student of Rigonomics & Gizmology

    Waste Knot Woods
    Rice, VA

  15. #15
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    It has been my past experience that upgrades during renovations don't have fit the latest NEC, for lack of a better description, they're grandfathered. The house was wired per NEC and past inspection in 1980. If my information is correct, the 20A outlet for the bathroom only came about around 1999-2001 time frame. To meet the latest code I would have to install a GFCI (which I plan on doing) outlet or breaker and also rewire the bathroom and two bedrooms. I would have to rewire 1/4 of the house to upgrade the service. Seems a little over the top to half to rewire something that hasn't been touched in 30 years.

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