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Old 12-05-2011, 03:31 PM   #1
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


I apologize if I don't use the correct terminology in this post.

I have a bathroom that I am redoing. I have two outlets above the vanity. One is a GFCI and the other outlet is connected to that so that when the GFCI pops, it shuts that outlet off also.

The outlets are about 18 inches from each other. One on each side of the sink. Each is in a single box.

I think want to take the outlet that has the GFCI in it and make it a double box, one side would contain the original GFCI, the other would have the switch for the stand alone ceiling mounted exhaust fan.

My questions are this...

1. Is there a problem with putting a switch in a double box with the GFCI?

2. Can I pull power for the exhaust fan from the GFCI outlet or do I need to run a new line?

3. Could I pull power from the existing ceiling light?

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Old 12-05-2011, 04:02 PM   #2
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


NEC 210.52(D) requires all receptacles with in 36" of the basin to be on a GCFI protected circuit. Not sure how the fan fits in. Since the switch is in the same area I would think it would also need to be under GCFI protection but I'm not sure. I don't know of any erason you can not have two receptacles in one location as long as the second (non-GCFI) receptacle is GCFI protected.

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Old 12-05-2011, 04:38 PM   #3
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


Quote:
Originally Posted by oldhouseguy View Post
I apologize if I don't use the correct terminology in this post.

I have a bathroom that I am redoing. I have two outlets above the vanity. One is a GFCI and the other outlet is connected to that so that when the GFCI pops, it shuts that outlet off also.

The outlets are about 18 inches from each other. One on each side of the sink. Each is in a single box.

I think want to take the outlet that has the GFCI in it and make it a double box, one side would contain the original GFCI, the other would have the switch for the stand alone ceiling mounted exhaust fan.

My questions are this...

1. Is there a problem with putting a switch in a double box with the GFCI?

2. Can I pull power for the exhaust fan from the GFCI outlet or do I need to run a new line?

3. Could I pull power from the existing ceiling light?
1. You should have no problem putting a switch into a double box alongside the GFCI.

2-3. How you power the new fan is dependent on your existing wiring and the rating of the fan, and where you place it. If it is plain old fan, it probably doesn't draw too much and you may be able to tap into an existing circuit.

If the fan includes a heater, it will most likely require a 20A circuit. The fan instructions will indicate the circuit requirements.

If you are installing the fan over a shower or bath tub, it will most likely require GFCI protection (again, check the instructions). Depending how much current the fan requires, you could possibly attach it to the load side of your GFCI receptacle.

Personally, I do not like to place bath lighting on GFCI circuits, since you could be left in the dark if the GFCI trips.

Start by determining the circuit requirements of the fan from the installation instructions, and also determine the size of your circuit in the bathroom. From there, you can determine if you need to run a new circuit, or tap into the existing circuit, and also if the fan requires GFCI protection.
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Old 12-05-2011, 04:43 PM   #4
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


No problem putting a switch in the same box as the GFCI. The switch does not need to be GFCI protected, unless it's controlling something that requires GFCI protection. You can use the same circuit to power the exhaust fan. The fan's instructions may say it needs to be GFCI protected (usually only if installed in a shower area), and if it does then you need to run it from the LOAD side of the GFCI. You could also power the fan from the light circuit, but if it requires GFCI protection that might be more difficult. If it were mine, I would pull power from the GFCI (load side, regardless of whether it's actually required) since that will be easiest to do.
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:37 PM   #5
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


It is a plain old fan. I will check the manufacturers requirements before I add it to the outlet circuit.

It is installed 6 feet from the shower in the ceiling, so I don't believe it needs to be to be GFCI.

As it sits right now, I have the fan wires running down the wall from the fan in the attic to an empty box which was existing. I think it was medicine chest light, but there is nothing in it.

I think this is how it is set up now...I have just one GFCI outlet, and coming from it's load side is the other outlet. Right??? Can I still add the fan even though the 2nd outlet is already on the load side? I would then have the outlet and the fan on the load side of one GFCI outlet.

Can someone tell me exactly what to connect to what?

I am always certain to shut the power off and I am extremely careful when dealing with electricity. I once took 110 volts from an old vacuum cleaner I was carrying across a wet garage floor and I could not drop the vacuum and I almost bought the farm right there. I won't EVER get close to that situation again, if I can help it.

I just don't fully understand the GFCI concept.

I hope this makes sense.
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:43 PM   #6
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


Quote:
Originally Posted by oldhouseguy View Post
It is a plain old fan. I will check the manufacturers requirements before I add it to the outlet circuit.

It is installed 6 feet from the shower in the ceiling, so I don't believe it needs to be to be GFCI.

As it sits right now, I have the fan wires running down the wall from the fan in the attic to an empty box which was existing. I think it was medicine chest light, but there is nothing in it.

I think this is how it is set up now...I have just one GFCI outlet, and coming from it's load side is the other outlet. Right??? Can I still add the fan even though the 2nd outlet is already on the load side? I would then have the outlet and the fan on the load side of one GFCI outlet.

Can someone tell me exactly what to connect to what?

I am always certain to shut the power off and I am extremely careful when dealing with electricity. I once took 110 volts from an old vacuum cleaner I was carrying across a wet garage floor and I could not drop the vacuum and I almost bought the farm right there. I won't EVER get close to that situation again, if I can help it.

I just don't fully understand the GFCI concept.

I hope this makes sense.
You can connect additional devices to the second outlet wiithout problem. All devices "downstream" of the GFCI device are protected by the GFCI device. In the most simplistic terms, you could think of it as a switch. If it trips, anythikng connected to it will be shut off.
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Old 12-05-2011, 05:46 PM   #7
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


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Originally Posted by clashley View Post
You can connect additional devices to the second outlet wiithout problem. All devices "downstream" of the GFCI device are protected by the GFCI device. In the most simplistic terms, you could think of it as a switch. If it trips, anythikng connected to it will be shut off.

So I have to connect to the second outlet and not the load side of the GFCI?

Thats going to be a little more difficult to get to that outlet, I am trying to do all of this without getting into the drywall.
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:26 PM   #8
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


Quote:
Originally Posted by oldhouseguy View Post
So I have to connect to the second outlet and not the load side of the GFCI?

Thats going to be a little more difficult to get to that outlet, I am trying to do all of this without getting into the drywall.
I detect a little bit of misunderstanding. Power comes in to the "Line" side of the GFCI outlet, from there, everything you want to have GFCI protected connects to the wire(s) coming off the "Load" side in what is refered to as a "Branch" circuit.

You stated you want to place a second outlet next to the GFCI outlet, that would need a duplex box. You would share the Neutrals and power the second outlet from the wire coming off the "Load" side of the GFCI outlet. From there you need a set of wires (should be romex) running from the second outlet next to the GFCI to the next outlet in line. (probably already there). If you want that to power the fan, you need to find the "Romex" wire that runs from a switch to the fan. If it is already there then you do not need to open up the drywall, if not, then you need to find a way to get it there. If the wires to the fan are at the box where the GFCI outlet is and you want the fan GFCI protected, you can wire nut it in with the second outlet from the "Load' side of the GFCI. If you wire nut it into the "Line" side then the fan would not be GFCI protected.

Hard to see what you want without a diagram of what you have and what you want.

Hope that's clear, pictures would be nice as well.

Last edited by CaptainD51; 12-05-2011 at 08:29 PM.
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Old 12-05-2011, 08:39 PM   #9
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


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Originally Posted by CaptainD51 View Post
I detect a little bit of misunderstanding. Power comes in to the "Line" side of the GFCI outlet, from there, everything you want to have GFCI protected connects to the wire(s) coming off the "Load" side in what is refered to as a "Branch" circuit.

You stated you want to place a second outlet next to the GFCI outlet, that would need a duplex box. You would share the Neutrals and power the second outlet from the wire coming off the "Load" side of the GFCI outlet. From there you need a set of wires (should be romex) running from the second outlet next to the GFCI to the next outlet in line. (probably already there). If you want that to power the fan, you need to find the "Romex" wire that runs from a switch to the fan. If it is already there then you do not need to open up the drywall, if not, then you need to find a way to get it there. If the wires to the fan are at the box where the GFCI outlet is and you want the fan GFCI protected, you can wire nut it in with the second outlet from the "Load' side of the GFCI. If you wire nut it into the "Line" side then the fan would not be GFCI protected.

Hard to see what you want without a diagram of what you have and what you want.

Hope that's clear, pictures would be nice as well.

I am really confused now! I think what you are saying is probably correct, but my understanding is inhibited by the fact that electrical circuits take quite awhile for me to understand.

I will try to draw a diagram and post what I have there now and what I want to have.

Let me try to re-explain it.

I have two existing outlets one on each side of the vanity, maybe 18 inches apart, not sharing a box.

The power runs in to the GFCI, then goes out to the other outlet. I have already run Romex from the fan down to the GFCI outlet. I have not connected anything. I want the fan switch in the duplex box with the GFCI.

I now understand the theory of I guess connecting the outlets past the GFCI in sort of a chain where they would all be protected. I can not access the second outlet but I can get the romex to the GFCI without opening drywall.

So.... I want to get my power from the GFCI and not the secondary outlet further down the line. Can there be two things, (1. the second outlet, 2. the fan circuit) connected to the GFCI, or must I get power from the last outlet?

Does this make any more sense?

You can clearly see where I run out of electrical knowledge!!!

Last edited by oldhouseguy; 12-05-2011 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:47 AM   #10
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


My thinking is that the second outlet gets it's power from the GFCI outlet, if not, what circuit is it on?

The attached picture is what I picture you having.
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!-bathoutlets.jpg  
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Old 12-06-2011, 12:47 PM   #11
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GFCI outlet in bathroom - HELP PLEASE!


Yep, that's what I was looking for.

Project completed!

Thanks everyone!!!!!

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