Basement bathroom remodel - Single 15A circuit

JimbohaDecember 29, 2013

I bought this 13-year old house 6 months ago. The basement bathroom is weird, having two doors on one end. I want to add a wall with a door to create a hallway and a smaller bathroom.

Normally the door would be a left-hand open, inward - but that would cover up the existing light & fan switches (in dual gang switch box). So I was planning to relocate the switches to the right side of the new door inside the bathroom in the new wall. And The GFCI outlet would be partially covered by the new wall, so I would have to have to move the GFCI outlet, planned to also be in the new wall near the light and fan switches.

But upon further investigation, I'm a little worried: Both light/fan switches and GFCI outlet and protected outlet are all on one 15 A breaker circuit with 14 gauge wire. I'm guessing this is not to current code. This means that if I change or add anything (ie. spliced wire to relocate switches and outlet?), the bathroom circuit would have to be upgraded to 20A/12gauge, something I don�t want to take on right now. So, I�m looking for alternate plans that won�t require any types of changes to the existing electrical that would require permit and inspection

1. For example, if I made the door to right-hand open (a little awkward to use, but acceptable), I would still need to move the current light & fan switch about 4" to the right in the same wall: without rewiring anything, I could attach the junction box to a stud that is 8" away. My understanding is that moving switches a little bit does not require permit/inspection: is that right?

2. The other end of the planned wall would partially cover the GFCI outlet. It only needs to move 1.5" to be clear, but it would have to go to the other side of the stud. The existing outlet is a 20A GFCI on 15A circuit � so I could remove it and put 15A unit on declaring the 20A one "defective" � so replacement is simple maintenance. Or not?

Would you expect these changes to fall under the "maintenance type work" as described in the FAQs?
"Generally, maintenance type electrical work does not require a permit if the work is limited to minor repair or replacement of existing defective or worn out equipment such as switches, receptacles & light fixtures."


This post was edited by Jimboha on Sun, Dec 29, 13 at 23:59

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Ron Natalie

You are correct. Bathrooms have for the past decade or more been required to be served by 20A circuits (anybody with teenage daughters knows why, hair dryers trip 15A breakers).

Unfortunately, nobody can answer the questions you are asking. This is not set addressed by the electrical codes. The local inspectors pretty much decide how much of a change requires bringing things up to the new code. Frankly, around here, doing what you're talking about would DEFINITELY require a permit and inspection, whether they'd make you upgrade the circuit or not depends on the extent of the rest of the renovation.

The 20A GFCI on a 15A circuit is 100% illegal. You should get rid of that (replace it with a 15a one if you like). Nobody will get worked up if you do that without a permit (on your own single family house).

Since this is the basement and you're ripping walls open anyhow, I'd bring things up to code. Pulling a new piece of 12G cable in is not going to be that difficult.

This post was edited by ronnatalie on Mon, Dec 30, 13 at 11:04

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 7:21AM
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Thank you for your reply, and for the information.

I did pull a permit for the work - the work is on hold now while I determine if I have to upgrade the circuit or not. I have a call in to the city inspector's office.

I only have 5 boys, so I have not experienced the hair dryer trip.

20A GFCI will be replaced today.

_In your experience_, does moving the switch junction box from one stud to the other stud (8" away in this case), without any rewiring, typically trigger an upgrade to latest code?

Your last piece of a advice is good, but you assume too much: the new wall is non-load-bearing so I can attach the new framing on top of the sheetrock. I only have to cut two new holes for the new boxes at the new locations for the switches and outlet. So it would be more demolition than I'd hoped since both the bathroom and basement are fully finished.

However, the bathroom is very close to the panel and I'm looking at what it would take to pull that 12G.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2013 at 12:09PM
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Ron Natalie

Moving a box wouldn't around here, but substantially redoing the bathroom might. Sometimes it's not just the electrical stuff that triggers it.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2013 at 6:47AM
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I'm ADDING one wall. I have NOT had to cut ANY sheetrock to do it. I have contacted the building office about the question, but the wall is framed up, so I;m committed...

Thank you.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2014 at 1:31AM
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