Bathroom circuit & GFCI child-proofing


Old 03-11-05, 11:09 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 59
Question Bathroom circuit & GFCI child-proofing

I wonder if someone can help me to better understand NEC for bathrooms. My understanding is that bathrooms need a dedicated 20A circuit for receptacles.

1) I thought that I've read on this board that if there is only one outlet, you can use a 15A outlet instead of a 20A one. Is this true?

2) Must the dedicated 20A circuit be for the bathroom only or just for the outlets? In other words, can the same circuit be used for lights also? If so, must everything on the circuit be GFCI protected or just the outlets?

3) Does anything in #1 or #2 change if the bathroom has 2 outlets?

4) Finally, I have a young daughter who has started taking an interest in outlets. (Remarkably only in those outlets not yet child-proofed!) Most of my non-GFCI protected outlets have "swivel outlet cover" child proofing. (This is an outlet cover where part of it is spring-loaded to turn a 3 hole plate 45 degrees. You insert the plug slightly, then turn to plug in.) It doesn't appear that this cover will prevent the GFCI outlet from tripping, but will certainly make it difficult to test.

Is it prudent to have child proofing on circuits that are GFCI protected? Or is it redundant?
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Old 03-11-05, 11:48 PM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 719
YES, child-proof all outlets and all GFCI outlets.

A GFI will not trip if someone inserts a paper clip across only the two slotted prongs.

If you cant test it you dont know if its bad.
Old 03-12-05, 05:28 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Bathroom circuits are tricky.

The receptacles in a bathroom must be on a 20 amp circuit. The lights, fans and any other non receptacles can be on a general purpose circuit or can be on their own circuit. Note that some things such as heaters and whirlpool tubs will have their own requirements which must be met.

You can have a single 20 amp circuit that serves bathroom receptacles only. As such, it can run from bathroom to bathroom, provided that it only serves bathroom receptacles. Or, if that single 20 amp circuit only goes to one bathroom, it can also serve the lights, fans and other loads in that same bathroom.

It is permissible to put 15 amp receptacles on a 20 amp circuit in the US. The only requirement is that you cannot put a single 15 amp simples receptacle on a 20 amp circuit. A single 15 amp duplex receptacle is allowed.

All bathroom receptacles must be GFCI protected. This can be with a GFCI breaker, a GFCI receptacle at every receptacle, or a single GFCI as the first receptacle that protects the rest of the circuit.

I would still childproof those receptacles, although those swivel covers probably won't work.
Old 03-12-05, 07:42 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 59
Excellent. Now just to make sure that I have the terminology correct, your typically run-of-the-mill outlet with 2 spots for plugs is a duplex receptacle - correct?

Any suggestions on child-proofing? I could see my daughter prying of the simple plaster plugs, but all of the other types of covers would make it difficult to test the GFCI.

Thanks a bunch.
Old 03-12-05, 08:25 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 973
Yes, the standard receptical is called a duplex receptical...You don't often see "simplex" recepticals in homes, unless they are dedicated recepticals (ie., fridge, washing machine, garbage disposal, etc.). Even dedicated recepticals are often duplex recepticals (cheaper due to supply/demand).

On the child safety...
If the GFCI outlet is not feeding other outlets, I'd probably use the plastic covers, and, for added protection, push the Test button to "trip" the GFCI. Just leave it tripped until next time you need to use it.

That way, even if she did pry off the covers, the outlet is dead anyway. I suppose she could also manage to push in the reset button, but it takes a pretty good, deliberate push to do.

Not elegant, but at least a little bit of an improvement. Now, if one GFCI outlet feeds other downstream recepticals, this wouldn't be very practical.

The other alternative would be to replace the breaker for this circuit with a GFCI breaker, then replace the GFCI outlet(s) with standard duplex recepticals. You can then use the same cover plates you are using elsewhere.

Surely someone makes a safety cover for GFCI outlets...I did a quick internet search and did not find anything though.

BTW: Thanks for this thread. My wife and I have our first on the way and, if he's anything like his father...oh, boy! I better start planning!
Old 03-13-05, 09:10 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 59
Thanks for the help. After I tried the plastic plug-ins I realized that there is no way she'll be able to get those off.

Chirkware - Congratulations, and my only advice is to enjoy & savor every moment. My daughter is an active 17 months old and I can't even remember what is was like before she could even roll-over. Take lots of pictures (digital camera was my best investment).

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