bathroom light switch located too close to shower

blindmanbruceNovember 11, 2010

Planning to Renovate my bathroom:

According to what research I've done, there cannot be an electrical switch within "X" amount of inches from a tub or shower. (I think it is sixty something inches, can't recall exactly). However, my problem is that the current location of the switch box as you enter the bathroom is around 24" from the shower stall. It's right along the edge of the bathroom entry door so it cannot be moved over any further.

Moving it would require installing a new door that would open opposite and also moving the switch to a new location on another wall. This would cause the door to open into and hit the base of the shower stall and would be create a somewhat awkward entry into the room. (The bathroom is on the second floor so moving the shower would require me to also move the toilet etc... which would lead to re-plumbing the entire bathroom among other things and is out of the question.)

Are there any exceptions or conditions where a light switch can be in close proximity to the tub or shower? What are my options?

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Ron Natalie

My entire bathroom isn't 60 inches long. There's no prohibition on switch location as long as it is not INSIDE the shower area.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 7:50AM
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Thanks for the clarification ronnatalie.
I always read too much into things. I figured that a switch or outlet would not be installed inside the shower/tub area (it's just common sense); I forget that the code has to sometimes state the obvious for people who have no common sense. In cases where the obvious is stated I start looking for a more complicated reason. My thought was that they didn't want you to be standing in water and be within "reach" of anything electrical. For light switches I guess I can understand it, ie. if you were in the shower you would have little reason to use the switch. You certainly wouldn't want to turn off the light while you're in the shower.
But what about a switch for an exhaust fan or a switch for a light that is over the shower? Is there any restriction on those? Is it the same for gfic outlets as well?

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 12:17PM
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I figured that a switch or outlet would not be installed inside the shower/tub area

The house we moved into 6 yrs ago, built in the 1950's, had the switch in the tub/shower. Originally it had the tub, then the whole bathroom was tiled and a shower added to the tub. Now the switch was in with the shower. It was pretty safe though, the shower was on one end and the switch on the other. Never got real wet.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2010 at 3:27PM
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You could always put the switch outside the bathroom...

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 12:45AM
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Find out your local code and what the actual nation code is? Your local code will apply along with the national code when you get a permit and itâÂÂs inspected. You also want to be safe in the shower. Switch within the shower!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 8:11AM
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Ron Natalie

New construction in NJ is governed by the 2008 NEC, rehab work may be allowed to comply with the 2005 code alone. As I stated, either version of the NEC only specifies that the switch be OUTSIDE the shower area. There's no minimum distance.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2010 at 8:19AM
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Per the 2008 NEC:

Article 404 "Switches", Part 4 "Damp or Wet 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.

Article 406 "Receptacles", Part 8 "Receptacles in Damp Locations":
(C) Bathtub and Shower Space. Receptacles shall not be installed within or directly over a bathtub or shower stall.

(Note: A "receptacle" is defined as an outlet where a user connects a plug.)

Article 410 "Luminaires, Lampholders & Lamps", Part 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.

Hope this clarifies.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2011 at 3:54PM
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Alan has the best idea. One of our bathrooms where it would be an issue, the light switch is on the outside wall entrance to the bathroom. If you are really concerned, simply cut a hole for the box and turn the switch around to face the wall entering the bathroom. Mine has a lighted dimmer switch. Inside the bathroom on the wall opposite from the tub/shower is a switch to control the ceiling fan and a GFCI switch for hair dryers and the like.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 9:03AM
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I meant a GFCI receptacle.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2011 at 7:52AM
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