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Everything You Need To Know About Bathroom GFCI Code

This article is for informational purposes. Always seek the advice of qualified professionals.

The purpose of our houses is to give us shelter. Once our houses have been made we don’t bother about any codes. Because we know that proper rules have been followed while making the house. 

But, let’s say that one fine morning someone asks you if your bathroom GFCI code is followed. And when you don’t know about it, you might panic. 

What exactly is the bathroom gfci code?

GFCI is a set of regulations set by the National Electrical Codes (NEC). They have to be followed to build safe electrical appliances. There are certain appliances like Cord connected type, Portable type, and Receptacle type. They need to be used.

This is just the basic concept of what a bathroom’s GFCI is. There’s more information about bathroom GFCIs in the article. 

Interested in knowing about them? You’ll have to scroll down and read!

What Is The Bathroom GFCI Code?

The full form of GFCI is Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters. It’s basically what you might call a fast-acting circuit breaker. 

When low resistance grounding paths face a break, a ground fault is in order. What the electricity in your system might do is, look for a different route to the ground. 

You should know how to ground the main electrical panels. You’ll find the knowledge very helpful when you do it yourself. 

While doing so, it might go through the user. You could get seriously injured during this time. This can even lead to death at times. 

The design enables it to cut off power in case there’s a ground fault. The best part is, it can do that in less than 1/40 of a second. 

It works by measuring and comparing the electricity that goes in and returns from an appliance. Whenever there’s a difference in the amount by around 5 milliamperes, it interrupts. 

GFCIs don’t save you from coming in contact with an exposed wire. It saves you from getting shocked. Which is usually the common case of a ground fault. 

Types Of GFCI

There are quite a few lots of GFCI appliances. But it’s not necessary for you to learn about every single one of them. For bathrooms, there are three GFCIs that are used the most. They all have different types of uses. 

Let’s not waste any more time and take a look at them one by one-

Type 1: Cord-Connected Type

This one is like an attachment plug that has been incorporated with the module of GFCI. The purpose of this GFCI is to protect itself first. And then protect all the equipment connected to it. 

You can say that the appearance of the plug is pretty non-standard. It has a few rest and test buttons. 

The cord can detect any sort of open supply conductor. By incorporating a no-voltage release device this cord can disconnect power going in. 

Type 2: Portable Type

This type of GFCIs come in all shapes and sizes. The main purpose of them is to ensure easy mobility. Some of them can be connected to existing outlets that aren’t GFCIs. 

But you can even connect them to cords or plugs if you want. 

The outlets might be hard to plug in by yourself but they’re still doable. It’s not completely necessary to call an electrician. 

Just like the cord-connected type GFCI, the portable ones can detect any open type of supply conductor. And by incorporating a no-voltage release device, it can disconnect power going in. 

There are different units for outdoor use. They’re usually enclosed so you don’t have to worry about them getting ruined. Waterproof ones are different as well. Check if the ones you buy are labeled as waterproof or not. 

Here’s a list of some of the best Portable type GFCIs-

Product 1
Product 2

Type 3: Receptacle Type

Receptacle types work by incorporating GFCI devices with receptacle outlets. They’re pretty cheap. So, their popularity has been increasing day by day.

Do I Need GFCIs In My Bathroom?

Mixing water and electricity could lead to a deadly combo. It can sum up the power to take lives. So, there’s no way you can ever let them come in contact. 

Similarly, you should be really aware of the GFCI regulations due to this. The National Electric Code (NEC) tells you to keep at least one protected GFCI outlet. 

The NEC tends to change its rules and regulations every 3 years. The most updated one is the 2020 NEC rules

This is the minimum requirement that has been placed for a bathroom. But I’ll recommend you keep three protected GFCI outlets in each bathroom. 

Then again, it’s still up to you regarding which outlets you think you’ll protect. But make sure that you have at least one protected GFCI outlet in each bathroom. 

You increase the chances of being protected from shock with protected GFCI outlets. In case you use only one GFCI outlet, make sure you wire it to ‘multiple locations’. 

This way, the GFCI outlet will be able to protect other outlets linked below to the same circuit. 

Do check the rules and regulations around your area though. Some places can vary from the general NEC rules. 

Difference Between A GFCI Circuit Breaker & A GFCI Receptacle

In plain sight, you might not notice any difference between these 2 appliances. A GFCI receptacle and a GFCI circuit breaker basically do the same thing. 

But there are a few things that differentiate them from each other. We’ll be pointing them out here. 

The circuit breaker protects everything that is linked to that circuit. But, a receptacle protects itself and outlets that are connected below it.

You’ll find it much easier to install receptacles over circuit breakers. But they need to be installed in places where you’ll be able to access them easily. 

And lastly, GFCI receptacles are much cheaper compared to circuit breakers. The receptacles cost $15 only whereas the circuit breakers will cost you $50. 

Even if you know the differences, you’re not an expert on this. So, get an electrician to decide which one will be right for which part. 

Bathroom Regulations By NEC

There are quite a lot of regulations by NEC for you to follow. The very first thing you should look out for is a circuit for exhaust fans and lighting. The circuit needs to be 20 amp if you connect both fan and light. Otherwise, just a 15 amp will do. 

One light mounted on the ceiling is required. A bare minimum of at least one protected GFCI outlet is necessary. Install more if you can. 

An outlet with 20 amps power should be fitted. That way you can use trimmers and hair dryers easily. 

AFCI protection has been a requirement since 2014. Make sure you have it. 

Make sure you ground all the switches. And the switches that’ll be on walls must be away from the shower area. I’d normally tell you to maintain a distance between the gas line and the electrical outlet. But there are no gas lines in the bathroom. 

Vents are an optional thing. It’s up to you to decide if you want one or not. 

Well, that concludes my guide on GFCI code for bathrooms. I tried to be as thorough as possible so I hope this comes to use. 

FAQs

Question: Does every outlet in the bathroom need to be GFCI?

Answer: No every outlet doesn’t need to be GFCI necessarily. There needs to be at least one. We recommend you fix at least 2-3 GFCI though. Just to be on the safe side. 

Question: How high should a GFCI be in a bathroom?

Answer: To stay accessible, a GFCI outlet should be located between 15 to 48 inches of the floor. If you face any obstruction like a cabinet, fix it under the cabinet. 

Question: Since when did GFCI become necessary for bathrooms?

Answer: The rule to necessitate GFCI in bathrooms came to be in 1975 in the US. Before that, it was up to you if you’d use GFCI or not. 

Conclusion

This is everything you need to know about the bathroom gfci code. Make sure you follow the rules and regulations properly. 

Hopefully, you’ll not face any issues in understanding the guide. 

Good Luck!