Small bathrooms and electrical code.

palimpsestJanuary 31, 2013

The current bathroom and adjacent powder room are very small in my 1963 house(The powder room was originally 30" wide and had 21" front minimum clearance to a small wall-hung sink).

The plan is to shift the bathroom over slightly and enlarge it *slightly, putting the bathtub in the old powder room space, and putting a new 3/4 bath elsewhere.

The International Residential Code is a bit vague about switches: one "near the entry", but the IBC says 60" from the edge of the tub. This puts the switch outside the bathroom door, because no other spot is both 60" from the tub and near the entrance.

The same condition will apply to the new 3/4 bath, I think, because of the relationship of the entry door to the shower.

I will put the lightswitch outside the door, if necessary but I always think about someone controlling the lights from outside the door.

One violation I see all the time is bathroom lighting, which is technically closer to the bathtub or shower enclosure than allowed if you follow the letter of the code (96" above the Rim of a bathtub and or 36" distant from edge of tub if lower). So I was wondering if there were often exceptions made for light switches, which could end up closer than 5 feet to the tub or shower in many instances.(like the do for lensed fixtures over bathtubs or in showers) However, in my complex that was renovated in the 1960s, the bath and powder room light switches are outside the doors. (While fan switches are inside for some reason).

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The 3'/8' restriction for bathroom lighting around tubs is for pendant-style lighting, anything that could be construed as being "hanging" or "suspended". The idea there is that someone standing in the tub might slip and instinctively reach out and grab on to the nearest thing...and if that nearest thing is a pendant light...well...enough said!

It's perfectly appropriate to have non-pendant lighting fixtures within the tub or shower footprint itself, even lower than 8'. In general, at a minimum they need to be damp rated, or wet rated if subject to water spray.

IRC (versus IBC) will usually apply to residential home construction. You want the switch that controls the lights in the bathroom to be in the bathroom.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 2:43PM
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