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  1. #1
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    Default Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Hello - can some one give a quick (and accurate) refresher on the allowable proximity of light switches to bath tubs? If I recall correctly, spas and hot tubs have to be 5 feet beyond any light switches, but what about regular bath tubs? I inspected a house this weekend, with switches at both ends...of course the old rule of thumb, that is it doesn't look right, it probably isn't kicked in - but I could not find anything concrete in my NEC 2005 edition.

    THanks much in advance. Be safe out there -

    Best regards - jdj

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Hope this helps...
    2006 IRC


    E3901.7Wet locations.
    Aswitch or circuit breaker located in a
    wet location or outside of a building shall be enclosed in a
    weatherproof enclosure or cabinet. Switches shall not be
    installed within wet locations in tub or shower spaces unless
    installed as part of a listed tub or shower assembly.


    Those switches certainly appear to be within the tub/shower space.


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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Whether there is a code or not, sometimes you have to call out ignorance that can lead to death.


  4. #4
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Thanks for the help. Yes, I know you know can call stuff out because it is a poor application - but then you get in contest with the Builder, and the Buyer gets stuck in the middle. HOWEVER, by referencing "code" it encourages the Builder to correct the application without too much flack.

    JD Johnson
    Beach To Bayou Property Inspections

  5. #5
    Andy Cox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    I almost never cite code, but explain the hazard to the client. I've never failed to get them to see the problem. Then they can hound the GC or a home seller to get it fixed. Or if it never gets fixed, at least the new owner is aware of the problem.
    I've gotten a couple of calls from an electrician and a plumber about these kinds of issues, but I still refrain from code citations, and just appeal to them, "Does this really look right?" And they usually back down. It helps that these are not the original contractor who actually installed the plug in the shower or whatever...


  6. #6
    Michael Koser's Avatar
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Hey JD,

    I have a similar situation in my own 45-year-old house. I have a light switch and a bathroom vent fan switch right next to a shower. Builders do stupid things sometimes. I simply placed the bathroom circuit including the switches on a breaker GFCI. I know its not the best solution but itís a lot easier than moving an electrical switch. I have found this situation several times before on inspections and I do suggest a electrical contractor to install a GFCI to offer additional protection. I donít know about your real estate laws but a homeowner in NC is not required to upgrade a house from original building code. So a GFCI is a simple solution and generally less expensive solution.

    MDK


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Dumb location, yes. Code violation, no.

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Switches are not allowed 'withing the enclosure' ... something generally defined from the waterline, straight up, to eight feet, IIRC. So, right next to the tub is one thing; over it (as shown) is a violation.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Hi John
    Code section # please? All I know of in the 2006 IRC regarding your post is section E3901.8, which doesn't match your statement. Please enlighten me, thanks.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    haha.... something to do if you get bored while soaking in the tub.... left foot on switch A - right hand on switch B - keep flipping to ensure 3-way switches operating correctly.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Jerry M.

    What about E3901.7Wet locations.

    "Switches shall not be installed within wet locations in tub or shower spaces unless installed as part of a listed tub or shower assembly."


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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Those switches don't appear to be "WITHIN" the wet location. they appear to me to be "NEXT TO".

    Just my opinion, unless NEC has defined the word "WITHIN" otherwise.


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Thanks Victor, my mistake as I meant E3901.7.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  14. #14
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Dumb location, yes. Code violation, no.
    I disagree. Code violation, definitely. Dumb location, without any doubt.

    Those switches don't appear to be "WITHIN" the wet location. they appear to me to be "NEXT TO".
    Corrective lenses might help. These are absolutely within the wet location and must be moved.

    E3901.7 Wet locations.
    A switch or circuit breaker located in a wet location or outside of a building shall be enclosed in a weatherproof enclosure or cabinet. Switches shall not be installed within wet locations in tub or shower spaces unless installed as part of a listed tub or shower assembly.

    Aaron


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Anyone notice the spray head?

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  16. #16
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Larson View Post
    Anyone notice the spray head?
    Yes, and depending upon the length of the hose on that wand, the wet area could be even further extended . . .


    Aaron


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
    Yes, and depending upon the length of the hose on that wand, the wet area could be even further extended . . .


    Aaron
    Or, depending on the water pressure!


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Sorry for mussing things up with "net speak" By "IIRC," I meant 'if I recall correctly.' Oops.

    Nonetheless, it appears the IRC has language identical to that of NEC 404.4 in this regard.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Attached is a drawing from Code Buddy. What is forgotten is the tub zone. The location of the switch or outlet within the tub zone has been an issue for many years. Mike Holt should be leading the charge to the NEC to change this situation. GFCI's fail. People build up a false feeling of security. If a switch or outlet is not allowed within five feet of a pool or spa, how is it that it is allowed around a tub? Are you not just as dead?

    If someone is not siting code issues, isn't this a cop out? It's time that all HI's studied the code and became experts. If you are not siting the code just what are you doing? Reporting the chipped paint? Broken window?

    This is an issue that should be clearly addressed by the NEC. HI's should be leading the charge. What we continue to have is a work force that is trained in a 3rd world country making life and death decisions. In the cases of new construction it would just as easy to move the outlets or switches.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Richard,

    I don't see the drawing.

    Michael Thomas
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  21. #21
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    Richard,

    I don't see the drawing.
    He's using Code Buddy Lite.

    Aaron


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    Switches are not allowed 'withing the enclosure' ... something generally defined from the waterline, straight up, to eight feet, IIRC. So, right next to the tub is one thing; over it (as shown) is a violation.
    Quote Originally Posted by John Steinke View Post
    Sorry for mussing things up with "net speak" By "IIRC," I meant 'if I recall correctly.' Oops.

    Nonetheless, it appears the IRC has language identical to that of NEC 404.4 in this regard.
    "the enclosure' ... something generally defined from the waterline, straight up, to eight feet,"

    Huh?

    From the 2008 NEC.
    - 404.4 Damp or Wet Locations.
    - - A surface-mounted switch or circuit breaker in a damp or wet location shall be enclosed in a weatherproof enclosure or cabinet that shall comply with 312.2. A flush-mounted switch or circuit breaker in a damp or wet location shall be equipped with a weatherproof cover. Switches shall not be installed within wet locations in tub or shower spaces unless installed as part of a listed tub or shower assembly.

    From the 2005 NEC.
    - 404.4 Wet Locations.
    - - A switch or circuit breaker in a wet location or outside of a building shall be enclosed in a weatherproof enclosure or cabinet that shall comply with 312.2(A). Switches shall not be installed within wet locations in tub or shower spaces unless installed as part of a listed tub or shower

    From the 2002 NEC.
    - 404.4 Wet Locations.
    - - A switch or circuit breaker in a wet location or outside of a building shall be enclosed in a weatherproof enclosure or cabinet that shall comply with 312.2(A). Switches shall not be installed within wet locations in tub or shower spaces unless installed as part of a listed tub or shower assembly.

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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Franklin View Post
    Attached is a drawing from Code Buddy. What is forgotten is the tub zone.
    From the 2008 NEC.
    - 410.10 Luminaires in Specific Locations.
    - - (D) Bathtub and Shower Areas. No parts of cord-connected luminaires, chain-, cable-, or cord-suspended luminaires, lighting track, pendants, or ceiling-suspended (paddle) fans shall be located within a zone measured 900 mm (3 ft) horizontally and 2.5 m (8 ft) vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower stall threshold. This zone is all encompassing and includes the space directly over the tub or shower stall. Luminaires located within the actual outside dimension of the bathtub or shower to a height of 2.5 m (8 ft) vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower threshold shall be marked for damp locations, or marked for wet locations where subject to shower spray.

    You will notice that this section is under "Luminaires in Specific Locations", not switches or receptacles.

    The location of the switch or outlet within the tub zone has been an issue for many years.
    For receptacle outlets, the reference is: (underlining is mine)
    From the 2008 NEC.
    - 406.8 Receptacles in Damp or Wet Locations.
    - - (C) Bathtub and Shower Space. Receptacles shall not be installed within or directly over a bathtub or shower stall.

    For switches, the reference isunderlining is mine)
    - 404.4 Damp or Wet Locations.
    - - A surface-mounted switch or circuit breaker in a damp or wet location shall be enclosed in a weatherproof enclosure or cabinet that shall comply with 312.2. A flush-mounted switch or circuit breaker in a damp or wet location shall be equipped with a weatherproof cover. Switches shall not be installed within wet locations in tub or shower spaces unless installed as part of a listed tub or shower assembly.

    If someone is not siting code issues, isn't this a cop out? It's time that all HI's studied the code and became experts.
    Citing the correct reference is VERY IMPORTANT also.

    This is an issue that should be clearly addressed by the NEC. HI's should be leading the charge.
    I agree with that statement.

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  24. #24
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    ECJ:

    So, what are you saying then, that a "zone" is a "stall" and that these two words are synonymous? It's not that I disagree with the idea that 410.10 refers to a certain "zone" that includes an area outside the "stall". That much is clear. I also see no problem with the logical extrapolation that the stall and the zone may be the same. But, can you justify that within the wording of the code itself?

    And are you advocating, even given that a "zone" is not a "stall" per se, the any switches or receptacles located outside the stall yet in the zone be equipped with raintight corers?

    Not being argumentative here, just asking your opinion.

    Aaron


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    NEC 2008 -Switches shall not be installed within wet locations in tub or shower spaces unless installed as part of a listed tub or shower assembly.
    Lets be real in that how many times have we actually seen such compliance and isn't the average case shown in these 2 photos the norm?
    (metal switch plate cover yet, ZAP!)

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  26. #26
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    NEC 2008 -Switches shall not be installed within wet locations in tub or shower spaces unless installed as part of a listed tub or shower assembly.
    Lets be real in that how many times have we actually seen such compliance and isn't the average case shown in these 2 photos the norm?
    (metal switch plate cover yet, ZAP!)
    LCJ:

    The metal switch plate is a damn nice touch. Was it bonded?

    Aaron


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Aaron, you're joking of course?

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

  28. #28
    Aaron Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    Aaron, you're joking of course?
    I surely hope so, Jerry. But, if you were to bond it you would likely use a bonding conducter the size of which would correspond with the IQ of the installer of this switch.

    Aaron



  29. #29
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    Default Re: Light switch proximity to bath tub

    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Miller View Post
    ECJ:

    So, what are you saying then, that a "zone" is a "stall" and that these two words are synonymous?
    What I was saying was simply that the code did not stated what Richard F. said, the "zone" only applied to light fixtures: "You will notice that this section is under "Luminaires in Specific Locations", not switches or receptacles."

    And that switches and receptacle outlets were addressed separately (and differently).

    I would like "the zone" to be applicable to all such installations (lights, switches, receptacle outlets) for ease of understanding what is allowed / not allowed where.

    When I was working with Mike Holt on his 2005 Changes to the NEC video in late 2004 we discussed this, and the wording is very poor, it actually allows things which we would think were not intended to be allowed.

    And are you advocating, even given that a "zone" is not a "stall" per se, the any switches or receptacles located outside the stall yet in the zone be equipped with raintight corers?
    What I was advocating was that if one is to quote the code, and was to chide other HIs for not quoting the code, that such person should actually be quoting *the correct* code themselves.

    Here is an example of very poor code language:
    From the 2008 NEC.
    - 406.8 Receptacles in Damp or Wet Locations.
    - - (C) Bathtub and Shower Space. Receptacles shall not be installed within or directly over a bathtub or shower stall.

    "shall not be installed within or directly over"

    Come on now, "within"? Who is going to install a receptacle outlet "within" a tub? Crimney, it would be submerged whenever the tub was filled.

    Or "or directly over", as in "in the ceiling", or as in "directly over in the walls? What if the walls are set back a few inches from the tub? Those receptacles are no longer "directly over" a bathtub.

    A shower stall (or tub with a shower as the shower curtain/enclosure defines 'the shower stall area', that's a lot easier to define and defend.

    But at a tub with no shower, is that now even a "wet area"?

    All I can do is raise questions on what it says. Mike was going to submit a code change for that, but I don't know if he ever did, I was also going to submit a code change for that, but I never did - got busy with my business and forgot about it.

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