Bathroom electrics – what’s allowed?

Bathrooms, General

Not so many years ago it was perfectly legal to install an electrical point in your bathroom, plumb in an electric shower and add a heated towel rail – all without needing a qualified electrician to help you out. You can only imagine the issues this created – after all, water and electricity do not make a good partnership. It has since been made a requirement to have all electrical work carried out in a bathroom completed by a qualified person – but there is more to it than just calling your local sparky.Bathroom electrics - what’s allowed?

Part P

Electrical work carried out in your bathroom is now notifiable to the local building control so they can determine that it meets the correct safety standard. Bathroom installations must meet Part P of the Building Regulations. This came in during 2005 and stated that any electrical work carried out in a bathroom (or other areas in the home where water is an issue) must be designed and installed to protect from shocks and fire. It includes any changes made to existing electrics.

Part P ensures that almost all work carried out in a bathroom is notifiable and needs to be carried out by a qualified person who is registered with one of the government scheme providers. To have anyone else do this work is a criminal offence.Bathroom electrics - what’s allowed?

The standards expected include:

  • Electrical sockets being more than 3 metres from the edge of a bath or shower (unless they are specially designed shaver sockets which can be as close as 600mm).
  • Electric showers must have their own circuit as it can have the highest demand of all household appliances. This circuit must be protected by a Residual Current Device (RCD) and connected to the consumer unit.
  • Adequate ventilation is also needed in a bathroom and an extractor fan may be required to meet building regulations – this must also be installed by an electrician.
  • Electric heating must be permanently wired and out of reach of anyone in the shower or bath. Any thermostats must be away from potential splashing and protected by an RCD.
  • All lighting needs to be enclosed and out of reach of water and controlled by a pull cord inside the bathroom or wall switch that is outside of the bathroom.
  • If you want to make your bathroom extra fancy you can install a television or a spa bath. Both of these need to be RCD protected and have an isolator switch outside of the bathroom to turn them on and off. They will also need to be hardwired and protected from the water where needed.

Bathroom electrics - what’s allowed?But don’t worry – your electrician is responsible for all reporting and you don’t need to do anything except make sure you choose an electrician who is registered. You can find this out by visiting your local authority website or by checking the Registered Competent Person Electrical scheme. You could also try using our MyTradesperson search for information of people in your area who are registered.

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