Bathroom / Shower - Light, Heat, Exaust Fan - Help Needed


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Old 02-11-04, 04:44 PM
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Question Bathroom / Shower - Light, Heat, Exaust Fan - Help Needed

Hello I need advice on how to go about this. Currently in our bathroom we have two recessed lights that are on one switch and an exhaust fan / light that are on another switch. The shower is pretty dark and I would like to add some light. I have a couple questions and hopefully someone can give me the advice I need.

I have access to the attic and to the wires that the current fan/light is hooked up to. I was thinking of just tying whatever I get into those wires and running off the same switch.

We want either a heat light or whatever those things are in the bathroom. Should I just replace the fan/light that is in there now with a fan/light/heater combo and get a basic canned light for in the shower? Is it possible to have a heat light in the shower?

Any and all help is appreciated!

Thanks, Tom
 
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Old 02-11-04, 06:39 PM
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Anything over the shower will need GFCI protection. Any type of heating unit will likely require it's own circuit, or the vast majority of a shared circuit.

Do you have a dedicated 20 amp circuit in the bathroom? The first thing I would do is see what other loads are connected to this circuit you propose to extend.
 
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Old 02-12-04, 04:44 AM
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Well I guess that pretty much rules that idea out. Just about all our breakers are doubled up so I know if I need a 20 AMP just for the bathroom that adding that heater would definately blow every time we turned it on.

Our box doesn't have any room left (hence the doubleing up). If I want to get a bigger box with more room for breakers what do I need to find out? How much service I have coming in from the line? How do I find that out?

Thanks so much!
 
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Old 02-12-04, 11:17 AM
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GFCI for over shower light?? Is that a recent code change? Is there a distance specification? My shower light isn't GFCI protected, but it's 3 feet above the shower and is a can light with water tight trim.

A fan and/or heater directly over the shower would not be a good idea. Whatever is put there needs to be made for wet locations. Bathroom heaters don't quite fall into that category. Mounting a heat light fan combo outside the shower is fine. If code now requires GFCI protection, it's not too big a deal to add a GFCI at the switch (one more box, use GFCI without built-in receptacle). In regard to the circuit sizing, heat lamps (the type where you can see the bulb on the bottom) only pull 250 watts per bulb. The 2 bulb fixtures work best (don't waste your time with a single bulb unit), so only about 500 watts plus whatever the fan takes, which isn't much. Should be no problem using the existing circuit, but it would depend on what else is on it. I've had 3 houses that had heat lamps in the bathrooms and all were wired with the bathroom lights. Put in clear bulbs rather than red ones and they will provide great light while they heat.

Doug M.
 
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Old 02-12-04, 11:21 AM
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Doug, appreciate the response. Do you happen to have any links of fan / heating lights or can you recommend any?

So your suggestion is to put just a light in the shower and then replace the existing fan / light with a new fan / heating light?

Would it be OK to tie in the wires of the shower light to the fan / heating light wires in the attic?

Thanks again!
 
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Old 02-12-04, 12:06 PM
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The big orange box has them (as does the blue box). Any home improvement or hardware store should sell them. Try http://www.shopfnc.com/qma535.htm for an example. The page shows several - 1 bulb, 2 bulb, with or without exhaust fan... I didn't know they made 350 watt bulbs too - a single bulb unit with 350 watt bulb may be sufficient (still skeptical...). I've only used the 250 watt bulbs - 2 bulb unit with 250 watt bulbs provides nice heat after a shower. Turn it on before getting into the shower and it warms up the floor.

Yes, heat and fan outside, light inside. I would put everything on it's own switch if possible. The bathroom might get kind of hot in the summer if you have to turn on the heat to get light or fan. You could probably wire the shower light in with another bathroom light if that's helpful. We still need to find out if it needs to be GFCI protected, which will determine if there might be another step to add that protection.

Doug M.
 
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Old 02-12-04, 12:28 PM
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Doug, about putting everything on it's own switch... I feel reasonably confident I can tie the fan / heat light into the shower light because I can just tie it together in the attic.

You're suggesting to have three seperate switches? One for the shower light, one for the fan, and one for the heat light?

Would that be A LOT harder then how I was going to do it?

Thanks!!
 
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Old 02-12-04, 01:02 PM
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I would want separate switches for everything, but it might be a lot more difficult depending on how accessible the top of the walls are from the attic and how the current light fan combo is wired. You might hook the shower light up to one of the other existing recessed lights and put the heat light fan combo on the switch that controls the light and fan now. Not exactly ideal, but better than having to run heat when you only need light. That could be a real nuisance.

From the stand-point of will it work, it makes no difference what you wire to, as long as you use the correct materials and follow proper wiring techniques. Since the new fixtures are going to be recessed into an attic space, make sure they are "IC" type fixtures so that attic insulation can be placed around them (the link I provided in the previous post shows both).

Doug M.
 
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Old 02-12-04, 01:09 PM
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This is going to be a dumb question but what do you mean by "depending on how accessible the top of the walls are from the attic". Will I need to run all new wire if I want to have all them all on seperate switches or will I just have to replace the single switch with a triple switch and make the changes in there?
 
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Old 02-12-04, 02:06 PM
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No matter what's there now, there's no way to make it control 3 things separately, so you would need some new wiring, but not all new wiring. We can't know how your house is currently wired so it's impossible to tell exactly how you need to connect things, but it should only be 1 additional cable down the wall no matter what.

Doug M.
 
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Old 02-12-04, 02:31 PM
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So would it be one additional cable down the wall and then all the way to the box? Or can't you tell that?
 
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Old 02-12-04, 02:40 PM
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Additional cable between the existing fan light combo and the wall switch or between the new shower light and the wall switch.

Doug M.
 
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Old 02-16-04, 03:30 PM
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Ok. I got the shower light today. I markied the middle of the shower where I want to install the light the best I could. I have two stud finders and they both must suck or something because I can't tell where the joists are. What do you suggest? What if a joist is in the way of the middle of the shower where I want to install? Must I move the location (although it will make it look very odd)?

Any tips / tricks on finding the exact middle of the shower? Also.. On the wiring... I have one existing wire running from a switch, up the wall into the attic and attached to the exhaust fan / light. Should I tie 2 wires on to the existing wire at the SWITCH and then pull both up through the attic getting a wire to the new light and then the wire to the exhaust fan / light? Would that then enable me to buy a three rocker switch and hook the shower light up to one, the fan to another, and then the fan light to the last?

One last question. I was looking at the Broan 655 Heater/Fan/Light . Does that require three switches to itself seeing that it has a heater/fan/light??

I really appreciate all your help.

Thanks, Tom
 
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Old 02-16-04, 03:45 PM
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Your stud finder should be able to find the joists. Don't you have access from above? Without access from above it's going to be difficult to install. Make a small hole and use a wire in the hole and bent sideways to find the joists.

As for pulling wires, no you cannot use an existing wire to pull other wires. Existing wires (unless added later one) are attached to the stud and cannot easily be pulled, plus the staples holding the old wire would destroy the new ones.

My suggestion is to enlarge your box to a two or three gand box. This will give you access into the wall. Then just pass your new wires down the cavity between the studs.
 
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Old 02-16-04, 05:26 PM
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Yes, I have access from above (the attic) but that still doesn't help me. I'm trying to decide if the true middle of the shower has any joist above in the way and my stud finders aren't telling me.
 

Last edited by tbird2340; 02-16-04 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 02-16-04, 06:41 PM
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Like racraft said, make a small hole in the middle of your shower ceiling and push a wire up thru it. If it goes right up thru, then there is no joist there. Go in the attic and see where the wire is in relation to your joist.
 
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Old 02-17-04, 04:43 AM
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Ok thanks. I'll try that and let you all know.

Thanks again.
 
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Old 02-19-04, 10:53 AM
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Ok. I got the fixture installed in the shower. I haven't done the electrical part yet.

Question. The wire I bought has black, white, and ground as well as the fixture box. I know I tie the black to black and white to white but do I also tie the ground to the ground? The ground wire that is in the fixture box is grounded to a screw in the box.

Thanks
 
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Old 02-19-04, 02:03 PM
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All the grounds must be connected together and the box must be grounded as well. Probably the easiest way to do it is with a green wire nut with a hole in it. You take your bare, incoming ground wire and feed about 4 inches thru the hole in the green nut. Then take your fixture's ground wire and place that under the wire nut and tighten. The 4 inch "tail" sticking out of the hole goes under the green screw on the metal box.

Or if you don't want to use the green wire nuts, then just connect the two grounds, plus a 6" piece of green or bare, of the same gauge, together under a wire nut. Your 6" piece will connect to the ground screw on the box.
 
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Old 02-19-04, 02:58 PM
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So it won't work the way I said? Wire nutting the two grounds (the one in the box is already grounded to a screw on the box)?
 
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Old 02-19-04, 04:06 PM
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Sorry for confusing you, I was thinking you were mounting the fixture to a separate metal box.

If this metal box is part of the fixture itself, and it has a green or bare wire already attached to it, then just wire nut that wire with the ground wire from your incoming power cable.
 
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Old 02-23-04, 06:14 AM
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Ok.. Thanks to everyones help I got the light mounted, wired, and working in the shower..

One problem I found though.. My bathroom is running on a 15AMP circuit. The guy at Lowe's told me since it's running on a 15AMP that I can't / shouldn't put a heater/fan/light in because heaters draw too many watts. Does anyone have any opinion or suggestion on this? Do they sell heater/fan/lights with less watts that I would be able to run off a 15AMP circuit?

Thanks again!
 
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Old 02-23-04, 06:28 AM
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More information is needed.

What is the wattage of the unit you want to install?

What else is on this circuit?

Based on your description of the residence, it is quite likely that you will have a problem.

However, since you have access to the attic, you can probably install a new circuit and run this unit entirely on a dediicated circuit.
 
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Old 02-23-04, 06:31 AM
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Occasionally the guy at the home center is correct. This is probably one of those times.
 
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Old 02-23-04, 07:04 AM
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I think we're in a loop... You could probably use a heat lamp with 2 250 watt clear bulbs. That would provide light and heat and only use 500 watts (about 4 amps)...

Doug M
 
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Old 02-23-04, 07:10 AM
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Well I found a heater/fan/light combo which the heater uses 1300Watts.

I have to map out all the circuits tonight so I'm not 100% what is on that circuit. Probably stuff from the basement, 1st floor, and 2nd floor the way the num nuts wired this house.

Your saying since I have access to the attic I may be able to run a new wire all the way to the box in the basement and simply dedicate a circuit to it?

About the heating with bulbs... That would work but I think those things are ugly.

Thanks for the help.
 
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Old 02-23-04, 07:22 AM
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Ahhh, I see. Your choices then are to forget the heat or run a new circuit.

Doug M.
 
 

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