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#183854 - 01/24/09 05:49 AM Outlet in small bathroom  
pdh  Offline
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 354
I've been watching some of those house hunting TV shows. I've noticed in a few of them where apartments are in older (100+ years) buildings, bathrooms can be extremely compact. In more than one, the show was an integral part of the whole bathroom. That is, there was no separate show space and everything in there could get wet when showering. Think of it as sink and toilet in the shower.

Now suppose you are asked to do a rewire of an apartment like that to upgrade the wiring. If there is no electrical outlet there now, would you add one? If there is an older one, would you remove it?

Which code item prevails in a compact bathroom? Keeping the outlet away from the shower vs. the requirement to have one in there?

The shows I saw were places in Europe. But I could envision some places in older parts of cities in the USA having the same issues.

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#183858 - 01/24/09 01:48 PM Re: Outlet in small bathroom [Re: pdh]  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
I suppose that here I might have some experience to offer ....

I've used a number of such bathrooms; my current one isn't much larger. But. yes, I've use hathrooms where the 'shampoo shelf' was the top of the toilet tank, and overspray would rinse out the sink.

Ironically, the same euro practices will place the water heater IN the shower, while forbidding switches and receptacles within the bathroom at all.

Even so, there were plenty of places that didn't get wet. After all, you needed to have the TP somewhere! In such situations you (first of all) look for places that are somehow in the 'shadow' of the spray; then you (literally) raise your expectations. That is, for example, you place that receptacle maybe 5 ft up, partly sheltered by the edge of the medicine cabinet. Or, place it under the towel rack, letting towels protect it.

Though, to be fair, by the time spaces start getting that tight, things start getting split off. For example, the sink is placed outside the bathroom .... meaning, by the NEC, it's not a bathroom anymore! Or, the toilet gets its' own little closet.

You're more likely to encounter a larger bathroom, but one that does not have a defined shower area. That is, there is no door / curtain, and the entire floor is made to serve as the shower pan. Even in such an 'open' arrangement, very little spray lands 5 ft from the shower head .... at, say, the 3 ft level, almost nothing hits walls 4 ft. away.

Corrosion is likely to be your biggest issue. Bubble covers? I think not - appliances are not likely to be sealed; better to encourage them to be put away.

#183870 - 01/24/09 08:23 PM Re: Outlet in small bathroom [Re: renosteinke]  
Trumpy  Offline

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,223
SI,New Zealand
I feel sorry for anyone that has to live with such cramped "facilities" in a house.
I remember in the last house I was in, the shower, vanity, toilet and the washing machine were all in the same room and believe me, the room wasn't that big to start off with.

I always had the idea that there was some sort of building law that stipulated the minimum size that a given room could be (especially wet-rooms), before they became a safety hazard to those using them.

Reason I say that, is because one morning, getting out of the shower, I slipped in the towel I had laid on the floor before-hand and banged my head on the adjacent washing machine, I was out cold for a good 5 minutes and was glad I woke up at all. frown

It's amazing what problems poor house design can cause.
And with apartments getting smaller these days, it's only going to get worse.

Sorry if I've thrown this thread off course.

#183881 - 01/25/09 12:07 AM Re: Outlet in small bathroom [Re: Trumpy]  
pdh  Offline
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 354
Some people like these cramped older buildings because of location, location, location.

Today's building codes wouldn't allow a lot of things you find in older buildings. But many aspects of older buildings are grandfathered in because of the difficulty and cost of retrofitting. These are often buildings where apartments are already small and there's no expansion room. Europe seems to have a lot of those. I'd guess older big cities in the USA would have many, too.

If it were me, I'd just drop the outlet in the bathroom altogether. I don't need a hair dryer. I shave in the bathroom, but I could charge the razor elsewhere. I would be fine with the British rules on bathroom outlets, or less. I'd even put the lights on low voltage isolated wiring with the transformer in another room. That would violate 210.11(C)(3) and 210.52(D) but I'd rather violate those than 406.8(C) or have the outlet where the shower water could reach it. I have no idea what an inspector would say.

Bathroom. An area including a basin with one or more of the following: a toilet, a tub, or a shower.

What if the basin is in one room, and a toilet, tub, or shower is in another? Seems like neither room really fits the definition of a bathroom. If I had tiny apartment like that, maybe I could move the basin to another room grin

#183884 - 01/25/09 08:38 AM Re: Outlet in small bathroom [Re: pdh]  
Wolfgang  Offline
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 153
the very West of Germany
In Europe we have a "zone" concept concerning "rooms with permanently installed showers or bath tubs" (= bathroom).
Zone 0 is within the tub.
Zone 1 is above up to 2.25m (appx 7 ft.)(2.6 (appx 8 ft.) in some countries)
Zone 2 is 0.6m (appx 2 ft.) from the edge of the tub or 1.2m (appx 4 ft.) if the shower is not separated as given above.

Within these zones no normal receptacles/sockets or other elctric devices are allowed.
In the remaining space we can install outlets or other devices that are mandatorily rcd protected at a maximum of 30mA. (American GFCI set appx 5mA)

There are certain devices that may be installed in zone 1 and 2, that are exempted from the rule as long as the manufacturer allows installation in his specs, typical example is a water heater.

Derived from that basic concept there are local regs which may require 2-pole switches for light (f.i. Belgium) or else, depending on country or poco or other rules.

A typical actual German bathroom installation would require an outlet for an electrical toothbrush charger, a hair dryer and a razor. So 2 to 4 outlets are not untypical above the basin/bowl. They are often integrated in a "Allibert" which is a brand name for "above basin mirror closets with integrated light fixtures"

In case a washing mashine is placed in the bathroom two separate circuits for washing and drying are necessary.

Last edited by renosteinke; 01/25/09 06:08 PM. Reason: To convert units, as requested

#183889 - 01/25/09 04:29 PM Re: Outlet in small bathroom [Re: Wolfgang]  
Wolfgang  Offline
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 153
the very West of Germany
Please replace German decimal comma by a decimal point! Forgot the US context.

#183890 - 01/25/09 05:44 PM Re: Outlet in small bathroom [Re: Wolfgang]  
pdh  Offline
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 354
Wolfgang: how does the rule apply if the entire room is all zone 0, 1, or 2?

#183891 - 01/25/09 06:01 PM Re: Outlet in small bathroom [Re: pdh]  
renosteinke  Offline
Cat Servant
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
Blue Collar Country
Simple, pdh ... NO receptacles, or even switches, within the room.

#183893 - 01/25/09 06:18 PM Re: Outlet in small bathroom [Re: renosteinke]  
Wolfgang  Offline
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 153
the very West of Germany
Right, one would have to install sort of low voltage light (SELVtransformer outside), but a bathroom of that small a size is rather a Japanese format.


Last edited by Wolfgang; 01/25/09 06:21 PM.

#183940 - 01/27/09 03:46 PM Re: Outlet in small bathroom [Re: Wolfgang]  
Alan Nadon  Offline
Joined: Mar 2005
Posts: 399
Elkhart, IN. USA
The key is bathroom AREA, see definitions. If the sink can be located outside the room it is still part of the bathroom area and a receptacle complying with section 210.52(D) can be safely installed. GFI per 210.8
The switch for the light can also be located outside the door to the "wet' area.
Many hotel / motel installations are done this way.

If it was easy, anyone could do it.

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