GFCI options question


Old 11-08-05, 06:15 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Louisvill KY
Posts: 22
GFCI options question

Hi All.
I am installing a new bathroom vent above my shower to help solve a mold and cracking paint problem. The bathroom has never had a vent so I'm having to cut up the 2nd storey floor to gain access to electrical and above the ceiling.

This vent will need to be run through a GFCI system, but here's my situation.

I will be working off the light switch on one side of the room to turn on the vent, but the only outlet, a gfci (with no ground wire!) is on the other side of the room.

At this point, I would have to run a wire from the gfci outlet, up and over the ceiling to the light switch, then back up and over to the vent. I will probably put in a double switch as well, one for the vent, one for the light.

Someone at the home depot showed me a gfci outlet with a light switch built in, but i consider that to be a half-assed job (as we'd then be down to 1 outlet hole for the entire bathroom)

The Question:

Is there such a thing as a gfci in-line box or some sort of system with no outlets (like a junction box) that i can just splice my hot line from the switch through? So maybe i would install this box/system in a closet up stairs in a closet, and if the vent ever did short, i could just go up there and reset? Or is it fine to just hook up a new outlet somewhere near the wiring upstairs and run the hot wire through that.

Then i wouldn't have to rout everything through the gfci outlet. I am trying to tear up as little of my 2nd story floor as possible.

FYI, my house is a 1 & 1/2 story cottage with a finished attic (it's hideous up there so i don't mind tearing it up). My wiring is the rubberized ungrounded stuff from the 40's. I am slowly connecting all outlets in the house to grounding wires and down to the main ground.

I also considered making the 15 amp braker a gfci breaker, but that one breaker controlls stuff in 4 different rooms (whoever designed the wiring for this house did a toally random job) so that wouldn't be very convienient.

Thanks for reading my lengthy question!
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Old 11-08-05, 06:30 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
My advice is to run a new circuit to the bathroom, and use that circuit for a GFCI receptacle and for the light/fan unit.

Yes, they do make faceless GFCIs. However, to work properly a GFCI needs both the hot wire and the neutral wire. GFCIs cannot be installed into switch loops.
Old 11-08-05, 06:44 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Louisvill KY
Posts: 22
But as long as i run both the hot and neutral through the faceless gfci it'd be fine right? or are you saying that's not possible, and that i should just run new wire from a 15amp gfci breaker (which would end up going through the same light switch in the end annyway).

Old 11-08-05, 07:29 AM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
You can't extend an ungrounded circuit.

And generally, you can't put a fan on a circuit serving a bathroom GFCI receptacle (unless this circuit serves nothing outside this one bathroom).

Bob's suggestion of a new circuit is probably your best bet, especially if you're tearing things up anyway. The circuit should be 20-amp rather than 15-amp.

Finally, a switch loop can be used to power a fixture where power goes first to the fixture and then to the switch. This saves the trouble of going over the ceiling twice.

Caveat: There are many, many electrical codes that apply to bathrooms. And there are complications and alternatives. So these brief posts are simplifications and condensations of a lot of codes.
Old 11-08-05, 03:41 PM
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Not that this is particularly applicable for this person's needs, but one can buy GFCI breakers and have an entire circuit GFCI'd if you want to. They plug right in the panel box, replacing the breaker you have, serving that circuit. The drawback being that anything on this circuit...even stuff that doesn't *have* to be gfci'd will get tripped out if the gfci ever trips out.

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