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  1. #1
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    Default GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    I had an interesting situation today where a previous client is selling their home and sent me a copy of their buyer's inspection report.

    As I read through it, an item caught my eye and I've looked it up in the IRC (I don't have a copy of the NEC). I believe the other inspector is mistaken, but as I said, I don't have a copy of the NEC.

    He said a GFCI located on a wet bar cannot be wired with a bathroom circuit. In other words, when he tested the wet bar's GFCI, the reset switch in the nearby bathroom tripped.

    Any thoughts?

    As always, thanks in advance.

    Bruce

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Under recent NEC code cycles the bathroom receptacle circuits have been limited to only bathroom receptacles. There is an exception that says there can be other loads like lighting and exhaust fans on that circuit but that the circuit must serve only that bathroom.

    Your circuit leaving the bathroom for the wet bar receptacle is not kosher.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    From the 2006 IRC

    E3603.4 Bathroom branch circuits. A minimum of one
    20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to supply bathroom
    receptacle outlet(s). Such circuits shall have no other outlets.
    Exception: Where the 20-ampere circuit supplies a single
    bathroom, outlets for other equipmentwithin the same bath-
    room shall be permitted to be supplied in accordance with
    Section E3602.

    Critical Home Inspection Services
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by JB Thompson View Post
    He said a GFCI located on a wet bar cannot be wired with a bathroom circuit. In other words, when he tested the wet bar's GFCI, the reset switch in the nearby bathroom tripped.
    I doubt that I would have called that. While it may not meet code, I cannot imagine that it poses any significant risk or is unsafe. We are not code inspectors.

    Department of Redundancy Department
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    I doubt that I would have called that.
    While it may not meet code, ...
    I cannot imagine that it poses any significant risk or is unsafe. We are not code inspectors.
    Gunnar,

    Why do you think that?

    It would not be 'in the code' unless there were reasons for it. That requirement goes all the way back to 1993.

    While we are not "code inspectors", we should recognize that there may be risks and unsafe conditions which we cannot recognize, but others can - thus, if it is in the code, it is in there for a reason, whether or not we can recognize those risks or unsafe conditions.

    I can understand HI recognizing risks and unsafe conditions *not in the code*, because the code is a consensus document, and if enough people do not agree, it does not make it into the code at that code cycle (it may make it in a later code cycle as more people recognize those risks and unsafe conditions and the vote changes to include those items - it happens that way all the time, taking more than one code cycle to be adopted).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    www.AskCodeMan.com

  6. #6
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by JB Thompson View Post
    I had an interesting situation today where a previous client is selling their home and sent me a copy of their buyer's inspection report.

    As I read through it, an item caught my eye and I've looked it up in the IRC (I don't have a copy of the NEC). I believe the other inspector is mistaken, but as I said, I don't have a copy of the NEC.

    He said a GFCI located on a wet bar cannot be wired with a bathroom circuit. In other words, when he tested the wet bar's GFCI, the reset switch in the nearby bathroom tripped.

    Any thoughts?

    As always, thanks in advance.

    Bruce
    At one time we would see one or two GFCI's controlling the entire house. As time goes on the codes change.

    Does the GFCI that controls the wet bar and the bathroom make it unsafe? I don't think it does. The GFCI works and it provided the protection that was needed.

    As Gunnar said, I would not have called it out either.

    One of those things that we have to deal with as a home inspector. I would simply tell your client that is true for homes being built or remodeled under the new codes. Which is true, if you are in an area that the AHJ requires it. This is also how I have also started to report some items in my reports.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Gunnar,

    Why do you think that?

    It would not be 'in the code' unless there were reasons for it. That requirement goes all the way back to 1993.

    While we are not "code inspectors", we should recognize that there may be risks and unsafe conditions which we cannot recognize, but others can - thus, if it is in the code, it is in there for a reason, whether or not we can recognize those risks or unsafe conditions.

    I can understand HI recognizing risks and unsafe conditions *not in the code*, because the code is a consensus document, and if enough people do not agree, it does not make it into the code at that code cycle (it may make it in a later code cycle as more people recognize those risks and unsafe conditions and the vote changes to include those items - it happens that way all the time, taking more than one code cycle to be adopted).
    Again this gets into the debate of a performing a home inspection to the codes. If you do inspect the entire home to the most current code, then you should report everything as Jerry has noted.

    If you are not inspecting to Codes then you should be telling your client this in the pre-inspection agreement. Let them know in advance that you are not inspecting the home for code violations.

    It is all about your comfort level. If you are not comfortable reporting ALL of the code violations then don't. Just let your client know and have them sign that they understand it is not a code inspection.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  8. #8
    Richard Stanley's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    FWIW - I probably would not have called it. I did not see any date of construction in the original post. What is important is that the circuit at the wet bar was protected. Some of the older installations had all of the GFI on a breker in the panel.
    New Texas sop - we have to report absence of AFCI in all inspections regardles of age.

    Last edited by Richard Stanley; 11-06-2008 at 06:54 AM. Reason: add

  9. #9
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    Again this gets into the debate of a performing a home inspection to the codes.
    No, it get into doing a home inspection recognizing the newest safety standards and that there is a reason those standards came into being.

    If you do not, you are making it *your own personal opinion* that something which has been deemed 'not safe' by the industry is, in your opinion, 'safe'.

    Scott, as an expert witness, you should know where that leaves you, and what it exposes you to, along with what you are exposing.

    If you are not inspecting to Codes then you should be telling your client this in the pre-inspection agreement. Let them know in advance that you are not inspecting the home for code violations.
    While "not inspecting to code", and we all agree HI inspectors do not do that, we also recognize that we as home inspectors are inspecting for the house to be 'functioning as intended' and 'constructed properly', both of which are only occurring 'when in accordance with the code' - thus, to that degree, 'home inspectors are code inspectors' ... how else do you know if it is 'functioning AS INTENDED' and 'constructed PROPERLY'?

    Add to that, home inspectors are also looking at 'safety', and 'safety' is based on established responses to results of unsafe conditions, i.e., newer safety requirements adopted from deaths and injuries from previous codes which needed to be changed.

    It is all about your comfort level.
    Correct.

    If you are not comfortable reporting ALL of the code violations then don't.
    Scott,

    You are not saying that is one is not comfortable in reporting ALL of a condition, then one should not report ANY of a condition, are you?

    If you are ... then ...

    Unless a home inspector is going to report all (see following list) they should not report any:

    - unsafe items

    - damaged items

    - code items

    - fire hazards

    - trip and fall items

    - improper construction practices

    - etc. (the list could go on and on)

    If you are, then ... ummm ... why would anyone NEED A HOME INSPECTOR?

    WC Jerry - what say you?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  10. #10
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    With most of the wet bar I've seen lately, you'd be lucky to find the GFCI or any receptacle at all. Seems grandma uses the counter to store up all of the Christmas storage items or a place to store those 44K plastic Wal-Mart bags she hoarding up.

    Seems a GFCI at a wet bar that also protects the bathrooms would be more of a nuisance. Who wants to dart half naked across the house from the bathroom to reset the GFCI in the wet bar.

    Now, if you hang out at the wet bar long enough, you'd dart naked across your neighbors yard.

    rick


  11. #11
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    It would not be 'in the code' unless there were reasons for it. That requirement goes all the way back to 1993.
    JP,

    If it is GFCI protected, then it is protected. It doesn/t matter where the reset is (within reason). If it is not protected, then it is not protected. For example, code requires a minimum of two 20 amp circuits for the kitchen counter accessible receptacle outlets. Not because it is unsafe to have one, but because one circuit is inadequate. Inadequate and unsafe are different.

    Again, I cannot imagine that any case where JB's GFCI would be unsafe. As Rick & Scott said, inconvenient.

    Department of Redundancy Department
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  12. #12
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar Alquist View Post
    If it is GFCI protected, then it is protected. It doesn/t matter where the reset is (within reason).
    *Where* the GFCI protection is located is not what is being addressed in the code.

    The code is addressing "other receptacles" on the same circuit.

    Again, I cannot imagine that any case where JB's GFCI would be unsafe.
    I understand that, which is what I said: (I've added underlining for highlighting)
    While we are not "code inspectors", we should recognize that there may be risks and unsafe conditions which we cannot recognize, but others can - thus, if it is in the code, it is in there for a reason, whether or not we can recognize those risks or unsafe conditions.
    As Rick & Scott said, inconvenient.
    And as I stated above, that inconvenience *is not* being addressed in the code.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  13. #13
    John Steinke's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Time, as they say, is of the essence ....

    "all the way back to 1993" ..... From my perspective, 1993 is practically yesterday. Whatever any code may say today, what matters is what were the practices at the time of construction, and the maintenance or damage that may have taken place since then.

    Indeed, it's quite possible that the GFI at the wet bar was not required at all, at the time - and the installer was 'ahead of the curve.'

    Whether there's an issue, IMO, depends entirely on when this job was done. Applying today's requirements to yesterday's work is simply wrong, and is so addressed by sundry codes, regulations, laws, etc.

    I'd be careful about inferring motives to the NFPA, or any other code writing organization. At least twice, cases have made it to the US Supreme Court, documenting where matters completely unrelated to safety were enshrined by code. Whether this manipulation of the process is common, increasing, etc., is beyond the scope of the thread.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    Time, as they say, is of the essence ....

    And, for home inspectors, that time is to stay current with current requirements.

    Home inspectors have no enforcement power to have ANYTHING corrected, they simply must POINT OUT what is not right, and, not safe, with some definable and defensible basis for their decisions ... which is NOT "I cannot imagine ... ".

    I would NOT want to try to defend my actions based on that.

    If that is your choice, so be it.

    As Scott said, and I agreed, "It is all about your comfort level."

    If you are comfortable doing that, do it, but do not complain when you are asked to defend yourself with that as your stance, especially not if Scott P., WC Jerry, myself, or others are on the other side ... wait, who would be on the other side facing Scott P.?

    Sorry, Scott, but that would not hold to save you.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  15. #15
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    didn't intend to the get the code/non-code home inspection thread started...

    I thank you all for the information provided.

    BTW the house was built in 2007. The reason it was so pertinent to me is that I did the original inspection for my client (brand new home). I did a re-inspection on it a week later. Eleven months later I did a warranty inspection on it. I've been there 3 times and didn't realize that was a code issue (though there literally 1,000's of things that are code issues I'm sure I don't catch).

    Anyway, there was a little pride issue going on with me for this home. As far as the other things mentioned, our reports were very, very similar which makes me feel good.

    There was; however, one particular item that if true (according to him), I should not have missed. I really cannot believe that I did. So I'm glad I had the opportunity to read another's report behind mine. Not many guys get that opportunity. Hopefully I get better and better as time goes by. I may never reach Scott or Jerry status ...

    Bruce

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
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    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  16. #16
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Any home I inspect I write up if there is not a GFCI in any wet area. I do not hold to any time it was built. Water, no GFCI = write up. Depending on the age of the home I may or may no write up the the Wet Bar should not be on the bath circuit.

    When I write up Absent GFCI's I write them up stating that they are required for safety. Period.

    I do not say anything about ''This home was built in 1960 and at that time GFCI' were non existant and not required"

    If an outlet is protected (depending on the age) (older homes) I do not write up anyhthing about "further safety steps are now in affect and the wet bar should not be protected by the bathroom GFCI circuit".

    The people are protected from electric shock in the wet areas in and around the home.

    Last edited by Ted Menelly; 11-07-2008 at 09:42 AM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    JB

    I just inspected an 11 month warranty home that I originally inspected. I did miss that one of the evaporator coils did not originally have a trap at the main drain line. When I was going over it with the client she said "you did not write that up before" I smiled and said "I wrote it up because I am perfect and caught my own fault" She laughed, thought I was pretty cute and made me a cup of coffee.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If you are comfortable doing that, do it, but do not complain when you are asked to defend yourself with that as your stance, especially not if Scott P., WC Jerry, myself, or others are on the other side ... wait, who would be on the other side facing Scott P.?

    Sorry, Scott, but that would not hold to save you.
    That's the beauty of being involved in litigation work! Ya know when to hold them and Ya know when to fold them! Can you say Settle.....

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  19. #19
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    from one of the above thread, what is adj an abbreviation for. thanks


  20. #20
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by daniel nantell View Post
    from one of the above thread, what is adj an abbreviation for. thanks
    I assume you mean AHJ b/c I can't find adj (which is "adjective")

    AHJ = Authority Having Jurisdiction

    Bruce Thompson, Lic. #9199
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    Home Inspections in the Tyler and East Texas area

  21. #21
    Kevin Barre's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by daniel nantell View Post
    from one of the above thread, what is adj an abbreviation for. thanks
    I suspect you meant to ask "what is AHJ an abbreviation for?"

    The answer is Authority Having Jurisdiction. AKA the local municipal inspector.

    If I'm wrong, then the only word I know that adj is an abbreviation for is adjective.


  22. #22
    Ken Bates's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    One of my HI instructors was one of the half dozen people who create and update and formulate the NEC "Bible"-"rules and regulations."

    During one lecture he related how he discovered a built-in electrical defect in a commercial building that cost $1,000,000 (one million) to correct. Sharp guy.

    He promoted the Ideal "Sure Test" Circuit analyser which is popular with home inspectors. During one class I asked him if he repeated his test when using this instrument and he said, "No."

    I was appalled, as repetition is the hallmark of science.

    I have found the Sure Test unreliable and only rely on simple circuit testers.

    Jerry Peck's logic would be unassailable were it not for the FACT that THE GODS ARE FALLIBLE.


  23. #23
    Ken Bates's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    This is what Jerry said, and I would not disagree.

    It would not be 'in the code' unless there were reasons for it. That requirement goes all the way back to 1993.

    While we are not "code inspectors", we should recognize that there may be risks and unsafe conditions which we cannot recognize, but others can - thus, if it is in the code, it is in there for a reason, whether or not we can recognize those risks or unsafe conditions.

    In my post I gave an example of how some of us may take exception with the wisdom of the experts.

    My instructor was one of the panel members who create the NEC codes. And I should not have used the word "APPALLED" when he said he did not reinsert the plug into a receptacle that the Sure Test analyzer indicated a wiring defect/anomaly in. I should have said SURPRISED. Also, I should not have said the "Sure Test" is unreliable. It is not unreliable, but the results can be unreliable due to a receptacle with loose connections or crud. Therefore, the need to reinsert and wiggle and try again and use a $1.00 neon tester for confirmation.

    I can see how we can find no relevance to some NEC rules on occasion as applies to our own circumstances.

    Jerry promptly assisted me with my question in a thread about a disconnect
    ("switch") for a water heater out of view from it's overcurrent device (breaker).

    His answer and the NEC logic are unassailable, but in my particular case the rule need not be enforced as a practical matter. In my case you had to pass within 3 feet of the bay where the tank was located to get to the breaker panel just a few feet away in the adjoining room. There is absolutely no other way to get to the panel other than passing by the bay. (except by "beaming in" a la Star Trek or sneaking by a deaf electrician lacking peripheral vision. So, the best route is to rely on the NEC and hold it forth like a bible being used to protect against vampires and werewolves.

    I am sure we are all thankful and appreciative of the amount of time Jerry donates to complex issues.

    Last edited by Ken Bates; 11-07-2008 at 09:45 AM.

  24. #24
    Frank Mauck's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Bruce,

    Need to find out when the bar sink and bathroom was installed. If they were installed before the 1993 code change went into affect,the wiring method meet code when it was installed and does not need to be changed now. When and/or they get remodeled in the future than they must be installed to the code that is inforced at the time of construction.

    Frank,


  25. #25
    Eric Shuman's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Interesting topic.

    I wonder how other inspectors handle this on newly constructed homes.

    I see this on new construction inspections and one year old warranty inspections occasionally. If I trip the outlet in the laundry room or bar and it trips the bathroom outlets then I do note in the report that it is not up to current standards. Yes, I know we are not code compliance inspectors but I also know that a brand new house is required to meet current codes.

    I also have in my knowledge base the fact that the code says that having any other outlets on the bath circuit is not allowed (with the previously stated exception excluded). That is why I write it up, because it is not properly wired and I have observed it under my normal inspecting procedure of testing GFCIs. I state in my contract that I am not performing a "code compliance inspection" but that some issues observed may be code related.

    If I observe or find something I know to be wrong should I ignore the fact that the circuit wiring is wrong according to the standards the house was just built under, just because the safety protection of the GFCI is present?

    If I only found one kitchen small appliance circuit on a new or one year old home, should I ignore that because it has GFCI protection?

    I provide information to my clients about the home and its sytems. As JP stated, I have no authority to enforce what I find, what my clients choose to do with the information is up to them.

    In the case of new or one year old homes I believe the builder should repair the improper circuitry.

    Eric


  26. #26
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Shuman View Post
    Interesting topic.

    I wonder how other inspectors handle this on newly constructed homes.

    I see this on new construction inspections and one year old warranty inspections occasionally. If I trip the outlet in the laundry room or bar and it trips the bathroom outlets then I do note in the report that it is not up to current standards. Yes, I know we are not code compliance inspectors but I also know that a brand new house is required to meet current codes.

    I also have in my knowledge base the fact that the code says that having any other outlets on the bath circuit is not allowed (with the previously stated exception excluded). That is why I write it up, because it is not properly wired and I have observed it under my normal inspecting procedure of testing GFCIs. I state in my contract that I am not performing a "code compliance inspection" but that some issues observed may be code related.

    If I observe or find something I know to be wrong should I ignore the fact that the circuit wiring is wrong according to the standards the house was just built under, just because the safety protection of the GFCI is present?

    If I only found one kitchen small appliance circuit on a new or one year old home, should I ignore that because it has GFCI protection?

    I provide information to my clients about the home and its stems. As JP stated, I have no authority to enforce what I find, what my clients choose to do with the information is up to them.

    In the case of new or one year old homes I believe the builder should repair the improper circuitry.

    Eric
    In this particular matter you are saying you know what is called for in new homes. To not write it up would certainly be the wrong thing to do. Old Homes, I write GFCI protection being absent anywhere. As long as they are protected I usually do not write up.

    Again, you are saying you know what the new code is on new/newer homes. You may not be a code inspector but what you inspect is based on code. I vote to definitely write it up.


  27. #27
    Anthony Alderman's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    So are we saying that when I trip the 1/2 bath GFCI and the master and hall also trip (being downstream) that this is a code violation and should be on separate circuits?


  28. #28
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Not the way I'm reading it, unless it also trips the lights in the baths.

    Jim Robinson
    New Mexico, USA

  29. #29
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony Alderman View Post
    So are we saying that when I trip the 1/2 bath GFCI and the master and hall also trip (being downstream) that this is a code violation and should be on separate circuits?
    No, those are all "bathroom" receptacles outlets. That is allowed.

    Add on even just one "other" receptacle outlet, say a "bedroom" receptacle outlet, then it is *not* allowed.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  30. #30
    Anthony Alderman's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    OK that makes the statement make sense. Thanks


  31. #31
    Robin McCaslin's Avatar
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    Default Re: GFCI for wet bar and bathroom

    Quote Originally Posted by Victor DaGraca View Post
    From the 2006 IRC

    E3603.4 Bathroom branch circuits. A minimum of one
    20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to supply bathroom
    receptacle outlet(s). Such circuits shall have no other outlets.
    Exception: Where the 20-ampere circuit supplies a single
    bathroom, outlets for other equipment within the same bath-
    room shall be permitted to be supplied in accordance with
    Section E3602.
    Well, being an electrician, that pretty much says it right to the point.

    In the Code, the word, "SHALL" is an absolute with no deviation from the stated code. Period. The only way one MAY get around this ruling is to use that same circuit in the second or third bathroom, that's it. Nothing more.

    However, if the property owner did something like this, and the local jurisdiction inspected it and gave the "Thumbs-Up", then everybody is happy.

    Actually, if the circuit isn't over loaded, and the protection is there, then there isn't any real problem. However, when mommy starts up her blow dryer in the bath, and pop fires up the blender on the bar at the same time, then you probably have an over current situation, and your breaker -MAY- trip out. That would be the main issue of the ruling, not the "Shocking Safety" aspect, but the "Over Loading" side of things, and there are some breakers out in the public that just don't open the circuit very well, and are well known for their reluctance to do so. One starts with a Z, the other start with an E and P, and both are older types. Fuses are still the best bet. So is following the Code.

    Zip-Zap, Gone in a Flash!


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