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Bathroom or utility room?


Mark P
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Did an inspection this morning on a house built in 1986 where the owner has recently finished the basement, but he has a toilet and a sink in the same room as the electrical panel, electric water heater, and electric furnace.

I told my customer that the panel cannot be a bathroom, but was not sure about the furnace and water heater. I know that since 1993 electrical panels have not been allowed in baths, and since this is a new renovation it can't be grandfathered to 1986 codes. My recomendation will be to seperate the bath from the panel, but I do have a few questions for anyone who can help.

Is this for only full baths or also 1/2 baths, like in this case? Since there is no shower excessive moisture should not be a problem.

What do you think about the elec furnace and water heater being in the same room? Not ideal but I don't think there is anything that says it is a no no, or is there?

What if it was a gas furnace and water heater in the bath? Would that make a difference?

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If you separate the panel with a partition and provide access to the panel that is not through the bathroom can you meet the clearance requirements to access the panel? It looks pretty tight to me but can't tell from the angle of the photo.

Sometimes I see this type of setup in old houses but not in modern houses unless the homeowner did it without permits. Make sure that they did not use the cleanout access to connect the toilet and sink.

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You can not draw cumbustion air for the water heater ot the furnace from a bathroom. The code does not specify half or full bath.

Look in the IRC chapter 17 combustion air, section M1701.4 prohibited sources.

I would write it up as an improper location for a bathroom and recommend that they remove the toilet and sink.

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Originally posted by AHIS

Did an inspection this morning on a house built in 1986 where the owner has recently finished the basement, but he has a toilet and a sink in the same room as the electrical panel, electric water heater, and electric furnace.

Oh, the wicked wretch!

I told my customer that the panel cannot be a bathroom, but was not sure about the furnace and water heater. I know that since 1993 electrical panels have not been allowed in baths, and since this is a new renovation it can't be grandfathered to 1986 codes. My recomendation will be to seperate the bath from the panel, but I do have a few questions for anyone who can help.

Is this for only full baths or also 1/2 baths, like in this case? Since there is no shower excessive moisture should not be a problem.

Look in the NEC's article 100 (definitions). A bathroom is defined as an area including a basin with one or more of the following: a toilet, a tub, or a shower.

What do you think about the elec furnace and water heater being in the same room? Not ideal but I don't think there is anything that says it is a no no, or is there?

I'm not aware of any such rule.

What if it was a gas furnace and water heater in the bath? Would that make a difference?

The rules are in G2406 of the IRC. My fingers are tired, so I won't type it all. Basically, if they're direct vent gas appliances, it's ok. And if there's sufficient volume in the room, it's ok.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by MMustola

You can not draw cumbustion air for the water heater ot the furnace from a bathroom. The code does not specify half or full bath.

Look in the IRC chapter 17 combustion air, section M1701.4 prohibited sources. . .

Chapter 17 doesn't apply to gas appliances. They have their very own chapter (24).

The gas equivilant to M1701.4 is G2406.2

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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You know Jim, I have sited chapter 17 many times to clients, sellers, and even builders and have never been corrected. I was confused when you made your statement so I went back and read it again and of course you are right. Chapter 17 only applies to liquiud and solid fuel-burning appliances.

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Originally posted by MMustola

You know Jim, I have sited chapter 17 many times to clients, sellers, and even builders and have never been corrected. I was confused when you made your statement so I went back and read it again and of course you are right. Chapter 17 only applies to liquiud and solid fuel-burning appliances.

I've also made that mistake. It's an easy mistake to make. No one every challenged me either, most likely because clients, sellers and even builders probably don't own the building code let alone understand how to use it.

Then I met this guy named Douglas Hansen. . .

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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