Wiring Done Right - Residential Wiring - The Right Way

Residential Wiring -  The Right Way!

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Electrical Dangers in the Home

Electrical Items Near Sources of Water

Water and electricity never mix well, water is conductive and extreme caution should be exercised whenever electrical items are located near sources of water.

GFI Outlet

All bathroom countertop outlets, any ceiling fans / lights above shower / tub areas must be GFI (ground fault interrupter) protected.  This is a electrical code requirement for bathrooms.

These outlets are the ones that have a test and reset button on the outlet, although there is also special GFI main panel breakers that can GFI protect a specific circuit.

Be sure to read the article called 'GFI Outlets'

Some builders also try to save costs by using one GFI outlet that also is continued on to another non GFI outlet (perhaps even in another bathroom), in such an arrangement if wired correctly both outlets are GFI protected. 

My personal preference is if the outlets are in different rooms - then have separate GFI outlets. Now remember GFI circuits are still limited to the circuit max. and the breaker will pop off if you exceed that, also if two bathrooms are served by the same circuit and you have a busy household with hair dryers / curling irons in use in both bathrooms you are likely to end up exceeding the circuit limit and tripping off the circuit breaker at the panel.  I rather dislike for that reason having different bathrooms being served by the same circuit and would much prefer have dedicated separate circuits for general purpose lighting / outlets for each bathroom.

When you buy a home however the builder will likely want to go with the cheapest method of meeting min code standards unless you specifically negotiated changes with the building to the way you want things before you sign off to buy the home. Changes prior to committing to the purchase of a new home is likely far better as they want your business, once you sign however there is time limits where changes can be made and they may want more $ for those changes. Bear in mind however all requests for changes must still meet or exceed min code requirements.

With a resale home you basically buy or not buy as it sits, any changes will have to be after closing the deal at your own expense and arrangement.

Now advances in technology and electrical safety requirements laid out in electrical codes are an attempt to save your butt / life in the event that just do something stupid or just do not know better. NEVER EVER purposely tempt fake, never believe that you can get away from stupidity and technology will be there to save the day if something goes wrong.

a) Outlets in the bathroom CAN NOT be reachable from inside the bathtub.

b) Vacuum cleaners should not be in the bathroom when the facilities are being used.

c) Hair dryers, curling irons and so on should always be unplugged when not in use, drain the sink when using these so no standing water is there when using electrical items. Do not let the electrical cord dip into the sink. Do not bring these items over to the shower / tub area regardless if another person is using the shower or tub area or there is standing water in them.

d) In the unfortunate event that you drop a curling iron or hair dryer into a sink full of water (remember I told you to not use these with standing water in the sink), avoid trying to grab an item when you know it will contact the sink (remember your hands are wet and your hair is wet, highly conductive), and jump away from it, and hope the GFI does its job and immediately shuts down the power to the outlet, make certain the power did shut down (if there is any doubt go to the basement and turn off the breaker, or scream for someone to assist), unplug the power cord from the outlet before draining the sink and removing the item from water. I would recommend replacing any electrical item that was submerged into water, but if are determined to keep it then let the water drain out of it find a warm place to hang it to dry (not in the bathroom to avoid the temptation of using it before it has dried out) and do not use it again for at least a week, perhaps even two weeks until it has completely dried out, during that time shake it around and change the resting angle several times.

e) do not use electrical devices such as radios / TV's near the bathtub, too much of a temptation to reach out of the bathtub to change the volume / station, shock hazard - could be fatal - again never test fake that technology (such as the GFI) to save your life from stupidity. Water can also spray outside the bathtub / shower area, when you leave the bathtub / shower you are wet from head to toe. TV's should never be in a bathroom to begin with and if you absolutely feel you need to listen to a radio keep it in sink area not reachable from the shower / tub area, or better yet use a battery operated one left at the sink area.

Outside the home outlets must also be GFI protected as well as a weather protection cover over the outlets, as they are subjected to rain / snow / ice /wind / heat and cold.

By: Donald Kerr

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