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switchbreaker panels in bathroom

Posted by drymanhattan (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 17, 13 at 16:38

I have two switchbreaker panels (one for the generator) in a bathroom/utility room that has a sink, toilet, and washer/dryer. All of these have co-existed for many years prior to my purchase of the house, and since they are pre-code, are grandfathered.
I did just switch the old dryer, which had to be vented out a window, to a non-vented condenser unit that drains with the washer. Both washer and dryer are electric (220v). I have two questions: 1) are there safety precautions I should be aware of, given this situation? 2) could I possibly consider adding a small shower?? We are in desperate need of one. Thank you!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: switchbreaker panels in bathroom

Do you have a measured drawing of the space in question? You have to leave a free space in front of the breaker panel that's enough for a man to access it. (Think of the size of a refrigerator, and that's how much space needs to be free in front of the panel.)

In addition, there are also certain minimum sizes required for all of the other bathroom components. If you touch what's there, you may run into having to bring other items up to code, such as GFI outlets for the bathroom.


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RE: switchbreaker panels in bathroom

There is adequate space in front of and next to the panels. Some of the outlets are GFI because I had them changed. Thanks to your reminder, I will change all of them. I don't know what you are referring to when you say other bathroom components. The sink and toilet? The washer and dryer? All are new. It's true that to add a shower would probably require a permit followed by an inspection, which could trigger questions about the panels. That's why I'm wondering if there's anything I could do to avert the problem. Can they be enclosed in outdoor boxes of some kind? Can I close them off like a closet?


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RE: switchbreaker panels in bathroom

Locating panels in bathrooms is a clear violation of the modern codes (it matters NOT what the size of the bathroom are). If would be up to the AHJ as to whether adding the shower would mandate you having to comply with the current code.


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RE: switchbreaker panels in bathroom

Locating panels in bathrooms is a clear violation of the modern codes (it matters NOT what the size of the bathroom are). If would be up to the AHJ as to whether adding the shower would mandate you having to comply with the current code.


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RE: switchbreaker panels in bathroom

THanks - but what is the AJH?


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RE: switchbreaker panels in bathroom

Some wonder how such installations occurred. Lots of the houses in my area predate the use of electricity in houses. Often such houses included a smaller room that was a bedroom for temporary farm labor or tradesmen working on the premises. One fellow who did standing seam roofing would live on the premises for the duration of the project, even if replacing wooden shingle roofing on an existing house. He had no permanent home.
When electricity became available in the 1935-1947 time frame-- leaving out most of the war years, this lesser-used room was the place for the panel. The most immediate use of electricity was for lighting and refrigeration. Running water from a well pump waited until the heating system could prevent pipes from freezing-- as was also the case with bathrooms. When originally built, no dedicated space for a bath was provided-- so the little room became the bath. I have seen panels on the wall above the bathtub. But the electricity typically preceded the bath by several years. Criticism is not in order-- those people were doing the very best they could as quickly as they could.
I have lived in and worked on several of those houses.
History lesson.

This post was edited by bus_driver on Thu, Oct 17, 13 at 18:26


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RE: switchbreaker panels in bathroom

Thanks for the interesting history. Am I right to assume the greatest danger is to a person switching a breaker while standing barefoot on a wet floor or touching a wet sink? In which case, I can at least make sure there is a mat or even raised platform on the floor. But how about other measures?


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RE: switchbreaker panels in bathroom

Authority Having Jurisdiction. Your local building/inspection department.


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