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My parents just bought a house that is still under the original warranty. There is a standard GFCI outlet in one of the bathrooms with outlets in the other two bathrooms connected to the load side of that GFCI. So far so good.

On their back porch they have another GFCI outlet. It is also connected to the load side of the bathroom GFCI. They found this out when some contractors were working and managed to trip the GFCI in the bathroom with equipment plugged in to the GFCI on the porch.

They know the builder as he just completed other work for them. I contend that it's wired incorrectly and should be fixed under warranty. He admits that it seems odd but doesn't want to get it fixed, of course.

They just had other electricians doing work at the house last week who looked at it and said "that's strange, but it's not dangerous". I'm not saying it's dangerous, just wrong.

I would like the builder to fix it, preferably by putting the outside outlets on a separate circuit. Thoughts?

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This isn't "dangerous", but it can be inconvenient when your outlet goes dead and it's tricky to figure out where the GFCI reset button is.

On the other hand, this could be against your local electrical codes. For example, NEC 210.11(C)(3) states that your bathroom circuit may only power bathroom outlets. Note that there is an exception to this rule: When the circuit supplies one bathroom (i.e. isn't shared between bedrooms), other things (such as fans and lights) in the same bathroom can share the same circuit. Regardless, the mentioned situation is against the NEC code.

As to if the builder should modify this, I can't say. When in doubt, call your local building inspector.

  • National Electrical Code 2014 210.11(C)(3) In addition to the number of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, at least one 20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to supply bathroom receptacle outlet(s). Such circuits shall have no other outlets. Depending on how you interpret this. You could argue that if you have more than one circuit, the additional circuits could supply other outlets. – Tester101 Nov 7 '14 at 11:24
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    The only valid interpretation is that nothing else (even the bathroom lights) may be supplied by that circuit. You're correct about the inconvenience. People working outside the house with equipment plugged in to a GFCI outlet shouldn't have to go to an upstairs bathroom to reset a GFCI if/when they trip it. It's particularly confusing because the GFCI that they plugged their equipment in to wasn't tripped, so from their point of view the circuit went dead for another reason. Anyway, thanks to all who answered. I'll update later. – Michael Chaney Nov 7 '14 at 13:23
  • I used to live in an apartment which was wired like this, despite the fact that the bathroom was further from the breaker panel than the balcony whose outlet was protected. I would guess that when the place was built a GFCI was probably a lot more expensive than an extra length of copper cable. – supercat Nov 16 '14 at 22:56
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Similar question here: Can you have a GFCI breaker protecting a GFCI receptacle?

What kind of warranty is this? If this is a newer home it would be a code violation since as @Pigrew says, bathroom receptacles cannot be shared with other areas.

If this is an older existing home then it may very well have been perfectly fine at the time of install. Earlier codes DID allow this, so simply saying it is wrong may not be correct at all.

  • The house was built one year ago so the codes should be quite modern. The warranty is just the standard new home warranty - we'll fix anything that goes wrong or was built incorrectly. I'll get ahold of an inspector in their area and go from there - I guessed it would be a code violation but not sure what the angle would be. – Michael Chaney Nov 6 '14 at 22:22
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    For a one year old home this would definitely be a code violation any place in the US. I don't know of any local amendments that would have allowed it. – Speedy Petey Nov 6 '14 at 23:51

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