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diy_vinny 02-27-2013 11:45 AM

GFCI Outlet in Bathroom
Hello all! This is my first post here so here it goes.

I am doing some renovation in the bathroom - new drywall, tiling, fixtures, etc.

The bathroom is very old and has 1 lightswitch that is on the same circuit as the bedroom (says 15 on the panel, assuming 15 amps).

Also has 1 outlet that was not GFCI but I am thinking I should install a GFCI for code/protection, since it is right above the sink. I included a few pictures of the outlet in question here:

I have changed all of the regular wall outlets in the home that had either 3 or 5 wires, but the ground always seemed to be the copper wire, but in this outlet there is the extra white wire attached to the bottom of the outlet, is that the ground, or something else?

The number on the panel says 20, once again, i'm assuming that means 20 amps. It seems to be on the same circuit as the bathroom adjacent to it and one of the living room outlets downstairs.

I have been doing a lot of research on the forums and it seems like a GFCI is necessary, and a 15 amp GFCI would be okay with a 20 amp circuit. But I just want some of your opinions on what I should do (short of rewiring anything).

Thanks in advance for everything! :thumbup:

hyunelan2 02-27-2013 11:52 AM

Modern code for a bathroom requires a 20a GFCI outlet. Your lights should be ok sharing the 15a circuit with the bedroom, but the bathroom outlet should have its own 20a circuit - which as you suspected, would require some rewiring.

At the very least, change that outlet to a GFCI that matches the amperage of the circuit. That's the first step to not getting electrocuted. This doesn't bring you up to code, but makes it less dangerous. The wire connecting the metal box to the ground screw is the ground wire, and should be bare-copper or green. The previous owner could have just used a scrap of whatever he had - white.

Jim Port 02-27-2013 12:11 PM

A 15 amp GFI receptacle is fine on a 20 amp circuit and is allowed by Code.

diy_vinny 02-27-2013 12:23 PM


so what you are saying is for safety i should:
remove that outlet, and install a 15 amp gfci, such as this one:

I would just take the two wires and attach them to the line part of the GFCI, ground it using a new copper wire, and leave the load empty?

But for code, I would need to have a professional electrician come and run new circuits from the panel up to the outlet in question (and the other two outlets on the circuit)?

Is this correct?

paintdrying 02-27-2013 12:40 PM

If it was my house, yes I would have an electrician to come and run a new circuit. I am not very knowledgeable about electrical work, so that is why I would want an electrician come and look over the whole job. The way they used a white wire for the ground and back stabbed the other two wires i would put the cover back on and call someone.

jeffnc 02-27-2013 04:39 PM

It's better to use a 20a outlet on a 20a circuit to be on the safe side.

We can only hope that white wire is the ground wire. I can't see what it says on that connection on the outlet, but it's connected to the metal box, so it darn well better be the ground.

Do you know why metallic cable is used? I can't think of a good reason for that. It is probably acting as the ground, but if they thought of that, they would have just used grounded cable to begin with.

Jim Port 02-27-2013 04:49 PM

There is no advantage to a 20 amp duplex over a 15 amp on a 20 amp circuit. The difference is the slot configuration. A 15 amp device is still rated for 20 amp feed through.

paintdrying 03-01-2013 03:22 PM

Jim, thanks, what does the term duplex refer to in describing receptacles.

jeffnc 03-01-2013 04:01 PM

It means 2, and pretty easily Googled.,TopRight,0,0_AA300_SH20_.jpg

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