Bathroom wiring possibly underrated

Reply

  #1  
Old 12-25-12, 04:44 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 177
Bathroom wiring possibly underrated

I was wiring a delay timer switch for the bathroom fan today and was surprised to discover that the line feeding the switch is only 16 awg. The wires going to up to the fan are 12 awg for both fan and light. Another 16 awg seems to be feeding the GFI outlet and the vanity light with a separate switch on the opposite wall of the bathroom. When I disconnected the second 16 awg, the outlet and the vanity light wouldn't work. Am I confusing things with the GFI outlet, since I never wired them? The entire bathroom setup is controlled with a 15 amp breaker, which includes the gfi outlet and light/fan.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 12-25-12, 05:13 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,659
They don't male #16 NM-b. Are you sure it isn't #14.
 
  #3  
Old 12-25-12, 05:51 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 177
Yea, just confirmed it's #14. Some cheap wire too, very thin, tube like sheathing with all wires together. Whoever wired the bathroom appears spared no expense. From the panel there was #12 wire, but then it was wired into a junction box with #14 leading to the bathroom. Why?? At least the breaker is properly rated.
 
  #4  
Old 12-25-12, 06:51 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,359
The proper fix is to replace the undersized wire with #12. This will allow you to keep the circuit at 20 amps as the code requires.

Until that can be done the breaker should be switched to a 15 amp to protect the smallest wiring in the circuit. Otherwise a fire hazard exists.
 
  #5  
Old 12-25-12, 08:13 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
Yea, just confirmed it's #14.
14 AWG protected by a 15A breaker is acceptable for the light and fan. The GFCI needs to be on a 20A circuit. That 20A circuit can be used to feed the light, fan and receptacle in that bathroom, or to feed the receptacles, but no other loads, in more than one bath.

From the panel there was #12 wire, but then it was wired into a junction box with #14 leading to the bathroom. Why?? At least the breaker is properly rated.
If there is a circuit wired with 12 AWG conductors, either the breaker is undersized or the wire is oversized. At one time it was common practice to connect final loads with the next smaller wire size.

Replacing all of the 14 AWG wiring with 12 AWG, and the 15A breaker with a 20A breaker, may be the easiest way to make this safe.
 
  #6  
Old 12-25-12, 08:57 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 177
to replace entire 14 wire i would have to open the bathroom. I am not planning on remodeling yet. i was thinking of running a 12 wire to the gfi outlet and perhaps tie it to the 12 wire in the junction box. Then replace the breaker to 20 amp. Would that be ok? 14 wire would only serve the fan, light and the vanity lights. Total of 4 flouracent bulbs. I would probably have to break the wall below the outlet, don't i?
 
  #7  
Old 12-25-12, 09:04 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 177
for now, would gfi still reset in the emergency when its on 15 amp circuit?

Final thought, perhaps i should just replace the gfci receptacle to 15amp gfci and be done with it? Wife never used the fan in the bathroom, and i just use it to charge the shaver.
 
  #8  
Old 12-25-12, 10:01 PM
Nashkat1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 8,470
perhaps i should just replace the gfci receptacle to 15amp gfci and be done with it?
No.The receptacle in a bathroom is required to be on a 20A circuit, and to be GFCI protected. That 20A circuit can be used to feed the light, fan and receptacle in one bathroom, or to feed the receptacles, but no other loads, in more than one bath.

You can install a 15A GFCI on a 20A circuit. They're rated for 20A pass-through.

for now, would gfi still reset in the emergency when its on 15 amp circuit?
Trip and open the circuit, or close and restore power after tripping? 15A vs. 20A should have no effect on either of those.

i was thinking of running a 12 wire to the gfi outlet and perhaps tie it to the 12 wire in the junction box. Then replace the breaker to 20 amp. Would that be ok? 14 wire would only serve the fan, light and the vanity lights. Total of 4 flouracent bulbs. I would probably have to break the wall below the outlet, don't i?
You can only replace the breaker with a 20A breaker after all the wiring on the circuit is 12 AWG.

Wiring Simplified is an authoritative and inexpensive reference to how and why residential electrical systems are designed and built the way they are. It's often available in the electrical aisle at home improvement centers.
 
  #9  
Old 12-26-12, 04:54 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 177
How about this, running a #12 wire from the junction box to the GFCI receptacle. Cutting the bathroom fan and lights from the junction box and tying them to another 15 amp circuit in the basement. That way I would have a separate 20 amp receptacle and wouldn't have to destroy most of the bathroom removing the #14 wire.
 
  #10  
Old 12-26-12, 05:34 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,359
Sounds like a good plan as long as the other circuit can support the new loads.
 
  #11  
Old 12-26-12, 05:48 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 177
I have at least two circuits in the panel that I'm not sure where they are going. I turned them off 3 weeks ago and have not noticed a single light or receptacle out. Perhaps I can locate one of them. How are these pens that don't require an electrical contact? Are they any reliable to locate a live circuit?
 
  #12  
Old 12-26-12, 05:57 AM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,968
The only thing they are good for is detecting the presence of an electrical current. If used properly they are a good tool, but in cramped jboxes, panels, etc. they are as worthless as warts on a frog. Buy an inexpensive analog multimeter to do your testing. Have you opened up your panel yet? It may be the breakers are there, but no wiring is attached. That is sometimes done when circuits are abandoned.
 
  #13  
Old 12-26-12, 06:14 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 177
I did some work in the panel prior, but it was before I decided to locate and correctly label all circuits. It's possible some circuits were abandoned. I have a multimeter, but I thought it would be easier to locate these specific circuits and trace them using a pen. I found an old circuit that tied to a receptacle and bonded to a pipe, but this was easy since it was a few feet from the panel.
 
  #14  
Old 12-26-12, 06:42 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,659
The pens can indicate a circuit is hot when it isn't so can easily lead you on a wild goose chase. There are always more reliable alternatives to using them and they start with a multimeter, preferably analog.
 
  #15  
Old 12-26-12, 07:24 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Albany, NY
Posts: 177
I couldn't find anything on the web for analog being better or more accurate than digital multimeter. What's the catch?
 
  #16  
Old 12-26-12, 07:29 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,359
Analog places a small load on the circuit and does not read phantom voltage like a digital.
 
  #17  
Old 12-26-12, 07:37 AM
chandler's Avatar
Banned. Rule And/Or Policy Violation
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 39,968
I couldn't find anything on the web for analog being better or more accurate than digital multimeter
You read it here, and we're on the web.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'