Bathroom - too much on the same circuit?

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Old 06-03-09, 11:27 AM
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Bathroom - too much on the same circuit?

Hello all,

I started out on what I thought was a simple project. I put in an exhaust vent and light/fan combo above the shower in my guest/2nd bath. I read on the box that it should protected by GFCI. I picked up some books to try and learn the correct way of doing things.

I Found one that showed how to wire GFCI to protect multiple fixtures downline. The guest bathroom had one GFCI outlet (only protecting itself). The outlet says 20amps, but I noticed it was using 14 guage wire. The circuit breaker it is using says 15amps. I assumed that is why it was using 14/2, instead of 12/2.

I pulled 12 guage wire off the protected side of the GFCI and used it to feed two switches. One that controls the light and one that controls the fan in the light/fan exhaust combo.

I have been reading in this forum that each GFCI needs its own dedicated 20 amp circuit. That made me think of three things.

1) my circuit is 15 amps not 20. Sounds like it was installed wrong in the first place. Does it have to be swiched out to 20?

2) Second, if it requires a dedicated circuit just for that plug, does that mean I can't feed other things downline from it? If so, it doesn't make sense to me. How else would I protect the light/exhaust other than off of the GFCI, which means the GFCI can't have a circuit dedicated to just it.

3) My house built in 1969 this 15 amp circuit from the panel feeds all the following:

1 master bedroom closet light switch

2 master bath light switches (one light above vanity & one switch for a light near the shower)

1 GFCI in master bath

1 GFCI in guest bath

1 light in guest bath

1 light above guest shower (planned on changing this to the
light/exhaust combo)

All wiring goes through EMT and any switch/ device that has grounding just attaches to a grounding screw inside one of the junction boxes.

So is my wiring as messed up as I think it is? What would be the correct way to do this project?

Thanks,

--Mike
 
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Old 06-03-09, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by kirgan View Post
I have been reading in this forum that each GFCI needs its own dedicated 20 amp circuit. That made me think of three things.
No, that's not true. With bathrooms there are two options:

1) A 20A circuit may power all loads in a single bathroom (lights, fans, receptacles)

2) A 20A circuit may power only receptacles in multiple bathrooms; and the lights/fans/etc can be on other general-purpose circuits.

1) my circuit is 15 amps not 20. Sounds like it was installed wrong in the first place. Does it have to be swiched out to 20?
It was legal in the year the house was built. If you leave it as-is, then it remains legal grandfathered. If you want to modify it, then you will need to upgrade it to 20A with #12 wire.

2) Second, if it requires a dedicated circuit just for that plug, does that mean I can't feed other things downline from it?
Downstream loads are allowed as long as they comply with the bathroom circuit rules above.

All wiring goes through EMT and any switch/ device that has grounding just attaches to a grounding screw inside one of the junction boxes.
EMT should make it pretty easy. Based on modern code, you would need to separate the two bathrooms each into their own 20A circuits with #12 wire.

So is my wiring as messed up as I think it is?
No, it sounds typical for the age of the home. The fact that you have conduit leaves you better off than most because of the ease of upgrade.
 
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Old 06-03-09, 09:07 PM
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GFCI immediately tripping

Originally Posted by ibpooks View Post
With bathrooms there are two options:

1) A 20A circuit may power all loads in a single bathroom (lights, fans, receptacles)

2) A 20A circuit may power only receptacles in multiple bathrooms; and the lights/fans/etc can be on other general-purpose circuits.
Thanks. That makes more sense than some posts I read from 2007 that I found when doing a Google Search.

It was legal in the year the house was built. If you leave it as-is, then it remains legal grandfathered. If you want to modify it, then you will need to upgrade it to 20A with #12 wire.
Sounds like I need to go ahead and upgrade.

However, before I do, I wanted to do a quick test to see if my current wiring would have functioned. The exhaust fan turns on when not connected to the load of the GFCI. However, when it is, it trips the GFCI immediately and it won't reset. I did run the green grounding wire from the fan and terminated it in the nearest EMT junction box to a green grouding screw. So, I am not sure exactly what the problem is, but I'll start troubleshooting that now.

Thanks,

--Mike
 
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