Bathroom electrical wiring raises a number of special safety considerations, beyond even those of the kitchen. While both rooms have moisture and water around, the bathroom is slightly different in that it is typically a smaller and enclosed space that often fills with steam and condensation. That fact alone makes wiring them for safety all the more difficult yet very important.
DIY Bathroom Electrical Wiring
Some bathroom electrical wiring codes consider these facts differently than others. Nevertheless, common sense and good electrical wiring practice alone are enough to guide the average do it your self-er in this area.
Bathroom Electrical Extractor Fan
Although not always legally required, installing a vent and fan makes a lot of practical sense. Windows, when they exist in a bathroom, often remain closed during showering, as does the entrance door. The build up of hot, moist air creates a number of potential problems.
Contrary to popular belief, water by itself does not cause problems when near electricity. What makes it a good conductor and potentially dangerous is the fact that it is almost never pure. Minerals and salts that dissolve readily in water are everywhere in the bathroom. Sweat from feet and hands, calcium carbonate, iron oxide and more all turn water into a good conductor.
That means that plugging in a hair dryer, turning on an electrical heater and other common bathroom devices raise the risk of shock and electrocution, unless outlets and devices are wired properly. When they are, the risk is no greater than it is in the kitchen or elsewhere that water and electricity are likely to mix.
GFCI Bathroom Electrical Wiring Code
Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI receptacles are one of the most common ways to deal with that problem in the case of outlets. They are designed to instantly cut off the electrical supply whenever they sense any loss of current in a circuit.
Isolating devices onto separate circuits increases the margin of safety in the bathroom. Having an under-the-sink hot water device on a different wiring circuit from the main light switch is one example. Wiring the electrical heater in the wall to a different circuit than the vent or fan is another. Having strip lights over the mirror on a separate circuit from the main ceiling light is yet a third.
Bathroom Electrical Wiring Safety
When designing or re-doing the bathroom electrical wiring system, you should always take into account the average loads of all expected devices. Install circuit breakers to match. In the majority of cases, twenty amp breakers are the usual choice. By designing safety features in depth, with redundancy, you provide that extra margin of safety. That can mean the difference between injury or fire and a relaxing time in the bathroom.