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Thread: NEC 2017 bathroom definition after adding a wall

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2018
    Ames, Iowa, United States

    NEC 2017 bathroom definition after adding a wall

    A customer has a house with a basement utility room (12 ft x 40 ft) that contains the main breaker panel with service disconnect, which is 3 feet away from a sink, 6 feet away from a toilet, 3 ft away from water treatment equipment and 6 ft away from furnace. House was built in 1982 (before rule disallowing panels in bathrooms).

    The customer wants to add a wall with a door (and also considering a hidden bookshelf door) which would reduce the size of the enclosed utility room to 12x8 ft, effectively making it appear more as a bathroom. The resulting room would contain the same plumbing, hvac, and electrical components as before, however the customer also wants to replace the plumbing fixtures which will also require moving pipes.

    Question is, is the current area considered to be a bathroom, and/or would adding a wall turn it into a bathroom or reset grandfathering? I’m unclear on what “area” means precisely for the definition of “bathroom” - does it mean enclosed by walls? Or any limiting dimensions or proximities?

    If considered a bathroom, if the area around the panel were to be enclosed into a closet (with sufficient access area) separate from the plumbing fixtures, then would that suffice, even if the only means to access require going through the “bathroom”?

    Another question is would using a hidden bookshelf door (as opposed to regular door) have implications?

    Thanks for any help.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    your building code will have the min size a bathroom has to be, the area around the toilet, the area around a vanity.

    so in my opinion the bathroom will have the min area required by your building code where the area for the bathroom is otherwise undefined in an open area such as a basement.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Seattle, WA
    Start at the toilet. Notice that there is a sink nearby. You now have a "bathroom" per the NEC definition. Do you have a 12' x 40' bathroom? That is hard to say, and I agree that the word "area" in the definition does not help clarify the situation. I will say, however, that if you add walls that put the toilet, the sink, and the electrical panel within the same 12' x 8' space, you will have created a bathroom that has an electrical panel within its boundaries. That would create a violation of today's code, and yes it would reset any available grandfathering. If there will be piping reconfiguration in the project, I recommend getting the plumbing components far enough from the electrical panel to allow them to be enclosed in walls that do not also enclose the panel.
    Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
    Comments based on 2017 NEC unless otherwise noted.

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