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Thread: GFCI protection for light switch near sink?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    NJ
    Posts
    3

    GFCI protection for light switch near sink?

    Here's what I got: an ancient small bath with the overhead light switch by the sink. We're adding a GFCI outlet, and since the switch for the vanity light we're also adding is in the same box, we should protect the vanity light circuit because it's easy to do feeding it from the load side of the GFCI. This idea comes from the fact that the state rental inspectors come with magnets to test that the plate screws on that switch are plastic not metal, with the idea that somehow that metal screw can get energized. So while everything is open, it occurs to me I can feed the ceiling light from that GFCI also instead of the general circuit it's now on. Our reading of code says that as long as the 20A line is only to that one bathroom we can feed the outlet & lights from it.

    Searching has led me nowhere on this one, answers are all over the place including "good idea" "there's no way for a switch to get energized" and "it's against code because all the lights in the bath will go out in a fault".

    Is this unnecessary caution, dumb, smart, illegal, or what?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Easton, Maryland NEC: 2011
    Posts
    7,487
    The lights do not require GFCI protection. I do not do it so if the GFCI trips, the lights stay on.
    "Electricity is really just organized lightning." George Carlin


    Derék

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Philly Suburbs
    Posts
    206
    Your interpretation of the code is correct in that you can use the dedicated circuit for the lights as well, so long as it is only for that bathroom. They do not need to be gfci protected though.

    But magnets and plastic screws????? Ha, go nj. Get yourself a screwless cover plate and see what the inspector does with his magnet...with metal screws that are under the plastic.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    NE Nebraska
    Posts
    18,378
    GFCI not needed but not prohibited. Use it if you want.

    Inspectors need to find out if screws are metal, is understandable, and if so then whether or not they are grounded.

    Easy way to test for ground it non contact volt tester. Turn switch on and hold next to switch yoke and/or cover screws or even metal cover. If not grounded it will alarm same as when it detects voltage.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    New Jersey
    Posts
    18,996
    I see no reason for concern or a requirment for GFCI protection of the switch that is properly grounded.
    Rob

    Chief Moderator

    All responses based on the 2011 NEC unless otherwise noted

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Ma
    Posts
    1,857
    Quote Originally Posted by protagonist View Post
    Here's what I got: an ancient small bath with the overhead light switch by the sink. We're adding a GFCI outlet, and since the switch for the vanity light we're also adding is in the same box, we should protect the vanity light circuit because it's easy to do feeding it from the load side of the GFCI. This idea comes from the fact that the state rental inspectors come with magnets to test that the plate screws on that switch are plastic not metal, with the idea that somehow that metal screw can get energized. So while everything is open, it occurs to me I can feed the ceiling light from that GFCI also instead of the general circuit it's now on. Our reading of code says that as long as the 20A line is only to that one bathroom we can feed the outlet & lights from it.

    Searching has led me nowhere on this one, answers are all over the place including "good idea" "there's no way for a switch to get energized" and "it's against code because all the lights in the bath will go out in a fault".

    Is this unnecessary caution, dumb, smart, illegal, or what?
    Use stainless steal screws and the inspectors magnets wont work...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    NE Nebraska
    Posts
    18,378
    Quote Originally Posted by LEO2854 View Post
    Use stainless steal screws and the inspectors magnets wont work...

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