GFCI and Bathroom Wiring
I am trying to install a GFCI in an old two-wire bathroom. There was only a light switch before, and I wanted to add a plug also, so I bought a GFCI with both a switch and a plug.
I have not been able to get it to work correctly using the wiring directions with the existing two wires to the line-in connections, and wonder if there is another wiring solution for this scenario. I can get the light switch to work correctly but not the plug. The unit will not reset, and the strange thing is that even without the light switch wired, the light glows faintly when I try to reset the GFCI. Could the unit be faulty?
JC from Lakeland, FL
You can't replace a light switch with a GFCI outlet, at least not per the instructions. The reason is the manufacturer assumes you are wiring your GFCI according to modern codes.
In the "good old days" of two-wire circuits, it was common to find electrical outlets integrated into bathroom light fixtures. People were not making great demands on their bathroom wiring. With the advent of heating appliances such as curling irons or hair dryers, the strain on smaller power capacity lighting circuits was seen as a danger. Now, current electrical code requires bathroom outlets to have their own, dedicated circuit protected by a GFCI. This circuit can be shared by multiple bathrooms.
Back to your question, is it possible to wire an outlet into this circuit? Yes, but I can't recommend it because you may be placing yourself and your home at risk. GFCIs protect against electrocution due to accidental grounding. They provide no protection against fires from overheating wiring, a genuine possibility if you install an outlet in the lighting circuit without professional inspection of your wiring.
Though I will always be a do-it-yourselfer, I consider this to be enough of a risk that you should consult with an electrician about the safe wiring options in your bathroom.
Have a small home repair question for THE NATURAL HANDYMAN? Just click here www.naturalhandyman.com/aitikia
For more home repair information, visit NH's growing list of original home repair articles and quality links www.naturalhandyman.com
If this information has been valuable to you, please consider making a small donation to support NH's free service to the home repair community! For more information, please visit our "Friends" page www.naturalhandyman.com/friends
The Natural Handyman Site Directory
- Home Repair Articles www.naturalhandyman.com/iip
- Home Repair Links Library www.naturalhandyman.com/linkslibrary
- NH's Bookshop www.naturalhandyman.com/bookshop
- Find a handyman at www.naturalhandyman.com/network
- Win unique home repair gifts and prizes at www.naturalhandyman.com/contest
Please read the important copyright and disclaimer information is located at www.naturalhandyman.com/copyright
Also in Home
- Cleaning coffee stains on carpeting
- Is it a DIY job? How to tell
- Don't kill your small engine!
- Choosing a new freezer
- Laundry the old-fashioned way
- Applying engineering techniques to pesky household problems
- 25 tips and tricks for an organized move
- Tiling a shower stall
- 5 ways your house can make you go broke
- 5 simple and affordable luxuries for your home
- Does staging really raise a home's price?
- 5 home renovation can raise your insurance rate -- or lead to discounts
- The right way and wrong way to pay down your mortgage
- 6 cheap, effective home security solutions
- 3 ways (and 1 reason) to refinance a HELOC
- 6 home projects that don't pay for themselves
- Should I refinance my home equity line?
- Find the best mortgage rates in your area
- 3 ways to use a mortgage calculator
- Mortgage calculator: Calculate your payment and more
- Home equity calculator: HELOC vs. line of credit
- Mortgage refinance break-even calculator
- How much money can I borrow for a mortgage?