Bathrooms are one of the most importance places to install ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection. In fact, bathrooms were originally the only place in residential homes that the National Electrical Code required GFCIs. These days, homeowners can get even better protection against electrocution and shock injuries by hiring an electrician to install a GFCI breaker for all bathrooms.
You should already have some GFCI protection in your home, including electrical outlets near the bathroom sink. However, it only makes sense to protect against electroshock anywhere that water might be present. A GFCI breaker protects all outlets on a circuit, rather than relying on individual GFCI wall outlets.
Talk to your local electrician if you’d like to add more GFCI breaker protection to your home, or you have an older house that needs a wiring update for modern safety.
Why Use a GFCI Breaker for a Bathroom Circuit?
As everyone knows, water and electricity don’t mix. Without a GFCI breaker or outlet protecting a bathroom, the worst case scenario could be a family member getting electrocuted while using a hairdryer or other appliance. Physical injuries are not the only concern, however. If electricity is flowing to the wrong place, you could wind up with melted wires or even a house fire.
GFCI technology measures the flow of electricity flowing in each direction (to and from an outlet, or to and from a breaker). When it senses that more electricity is flowing in one direction than the other, the GFCI knows that some electrical charge is following a bad path, e.g. flowing through a puddle of water. When a GFCI senses this danger, it shuts down power.
GFCI Breaker vs. GFCI Outlet
A GFCI breaker will trip the breaker itself, so no electricity will flow to any of the bathroom’s outlets. Only when you have remedied the problem and reset the breaker will power flow to the circuit again.
A GFCI outlet does the same thing, but it only shuts off that outlet and any further down the circuit. That’s why a GFCI breaker can be considered better protection — it shuts down a nearby outlet that might also be in use dangerously.
There may be situations where homeowners would prefer to have individual protected outlets rather than a GFCI breaker, but that would depend on what other lights, switches, and outlets are on the bathroom’s circuit. An experienced electrician can discuss the effects of each option with you if you have any questions.
Adding a GFCI Breaker to a Bathroom
The process of adding a GFCI breaker is much like replacing a breaker switch, only you’ll need a different type of breaker. The GFCI breaker will have an ON/OFF switch and a test/reset switch like the GFCI outlets you are familiar with. Licensed electricians should handle this job because it does involve working with the wiring at the electrical panel, so professional safety methods are required.
Be safe, avoid code violations and electrical inspection problems, and make sure your home’s bathrooms and other vulnerable areas have GFCI breaker protection where appropriate. If you are looking for an electrician in Santa Rosa or the surrounding North Bay area, contact us to schedule a quick and friendly visit.