I have a question about how to rewire my bathroom. Here is the current
20 amp breaker
| not sure what gauge wire in conduit
4 outlets in 1 junction box (washing machine, dryer, and freezer plug in
| 14 gauge wire no ground (romex)
outlet in bathroom (not GFCI)
| not sure what gauge wire (romex) but it looks like 14 gauge
| not sure what gauge wire (romex) but it looks like 14 gauge
I know I definitely need a GFCI outlet in bathroom because the outlet is
next to the sink. The question I have is does the washing machine need to
have a GFCI outlet as well? If it does I would just buy a GFCI circuit
breaker, replace the ungrounded romex with grounded romex and call it done.
I remember from a long time ago a friend told me that fluorescent lights
should not be on a GFCI outlet, I recall something about the ballast. Is
this still true?
I live in Indiana if that information helps.
If I'm reading your post correctly, you have a 20A breaker on 14 guage
wire. That is a fire hazard. First things first, change the breaker to
If you have ungrounded wire, you could just put in a 15A GFCI breaker
that will take care of the whole circuit. As far as the fluorescent
lights, I am not sure if it will present a problem. I have my
fluorescent lights on a GFCI breaker and it seems to be OK.
By the way, the washer, dryer and freezer should be on their own
circuits. AT the very least the washer since it uses up the most juice.
Thank you for the response. Yes the circuit breaker feeding the 4 outlets
is 20 amps. Since the wires are in conduit I cannot get to them easily and
I am doing a load of laundry right now. The ungrounded romex coming from
the junction box with the four outlets has no writing on it, but I am pretty
sure it is 14 gauge. This 14 gauge wire only feeds the 1 outlet in the
bathroom and the fluorescent light. The outlet in the bathroom powers a
hair dryer, sometimes a vacuum cleaner. That might be why the 14 gauge is
there and why the bathroom is powered by the washing machine circuit.
Whoever put in the wire figured there was not enough load in the bathroom to
run 12 gauge everywhere. The freezer is dead and we will be getting rid of
it soon and it will not be replaced, so do you still think the washer and
dryer each need there own circuit?
So to recap, if you have a 20 amp circuit breaker, you need 12 gauge wire
running everywhere on that circuit. Is this correct? What about a 15 amp
circuit breaker with 12 gauge wire, is that OK?
Yes, all wire on a 20a breaker has to be 12 or larger. In general there is
no problem having a 15a breaker with #12, it just has to be at least #14.
But you have a number of problems. If you do anything to change the circuit
you will have to bring it up to current code. You are very very far away
from current code. The bathroom has to have a 20a circuit, and it cannot
share with any other room; etc. You cannot legally do what you want.
A half bath with only 1 outlet and 1 flourescent light needs a 20a circuit?
Good grief. I know I am really far from current code, the ungrounded wire
and no GFCI being a big part of the problem. I think it might be time to
see if the local building inspector would be willing to answer a few
As another poster has said, you shouldn't have any 14 ga. on a 20 A
breaker. Upsize *all* the wire to 12 ga. or downsize the breaker to 15
A - which will probably start to trip if all this stuff is on at once.
Also something's odd about the dryer. Is it a 120 V appliance? I have
not seen a 120 V clothes dryer. Perhaps you mean hair dryer?
In the ideal case, like if you're rewiring from scratch, the sink
outlet would be on its own 12ga/20A circuit and would be GFCI; the
washer would be on its own 15 or 20A circuit and *could* be GFCI but
may not need to be depending on local codes; the freezer would be on
its own 15 or 20 A circuit and should probably not be on a GFCI but
should be far away from any water source or wet person; and the 120 V
dryer, if it is such a thing, should be ditto the washer.
For convenience of cable pulling you could pull 12/3 or 14/3 to one
double-width box, with the black hot feeding one outlet (GFCI if you
wish) for the washer and the red hot feeding one outlet for the 120 V
dryer (which I'm still thinking is a mythical beast). Each outlet could
be a simplex except you'll never find a dual simplex coverplate, so use
two duplexes. Or, if you don't want it to be GCFI, use a single split
duplex: you'll have to link the breakers, which means a fault in the
washer would kill power to the dryer. No big deal.
Likewise you could pull another 12/3 to the outlet box by the sink, use
its black hot to feed a GFCI there, and connect its red hot to a 12/2
that goes to the outlet for the freezer. That outlet could be in the
same double box as the washer/dryer split outlet, I believe. If it's in
a box by itself it could be a simplex, so nobody "accidently" plugs a
heater in and blows the freezer circuit.
The outlets for the big appliances should be in back of the appliances
where it's hard to get to them for other purposes - in some places the
code actually says this for appliances in bathrooms. (Most codes have
provisions for a washer and dryer in the bathroom, I dunno about a
Myself, I'd have every bathroom outlet be GFCI, but I'd try real hard
not to have a freezer in the bathroom. So that's a tough call. The
outlet by the sink must be a GFCI outlet; for the GFCI-protected
appliances, breakers would probably be better since the outlets will be
hard to reach.
I'd say the lighting should be on the same circuit as some nearby room
lighting but in some places code may want it on a GFCI circuit too,
especially if it's over or near the tub or shower.
If all this stuff were on one 12 ga 20 A circuit I'd say you were
overloaded. Being on a *14* ga 20 A circuit, I'd say you are
dangerously overloaded. You're quite right to want to re-do this room.
Yes this is a 120v nautral gas clothes dryer and a 120v washing machine.
They are located in the utility room. The outlet in the bathroom (half
bath) only powers a hair dryer and sometimes a vacuum cleaner. I was
planning on purchasing two GFCI circuit breakers. One for the washing
machine, clothes dryer, and bathroom (the freezer is dead so I don't know
why I mentioned it in the first place) and one for the kitchen outlets. I
will replace the wiring with 12 guage wire and make sure it is properly
grounded this time. The 20 amp GFCI breaker should be more than enough to
power the washer and dryer and a flourescent light. The hair dryer is only
used in the mornings and never runs when the washer or dryer is running.
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