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"Need advice on extension cord + GFCI converter for bathroom." Topic


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3,066 hits since 15 Oct 2011
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Gattamalata Inactive Member15 Oct 2011 10:01 a.m. PST

The apartment I've moved into doesn't have a proper electrical outlet in the bathroom: there's one attached to a fixture above the mirror, but it's too high, only accepts two pronged plugs and lacks GFCI. I thought of attaching a converter to it, but can't fit anything due to the fixture's cover and an electrician who installed an outlet in the kitchen said I shouldn't use that one, due to it not being safe around water. The walls are tiled, so the electrician couldn't install an outlet with GFCI and the landlord, being rather miserly, would more than likely refuse to remove one or two to install one.

After some searching, I've decided to run a 12 feet long extension cord from the living room around the corner to the bathroom. In the living room, I'll be using a Plug-In GFCI Converter with Surge Protection and from this will be running a Coleman Cable Coleman Cable 2634 14/3 Outdoor Extension Cord with Lighted Ends Cold-Flex Weather-Proof Blue, 15-Foot to the bathroom. I spoke by phone with a guy at a local True Value Hardware store and he said attaching a 12 or 14 gauge extension cord to a GFCI cord or converter is safe.

I need this for is an hairdryer, an electrical shaver or charging an electric toothbrush. Is this a decent setup? I'd appreciate a second opinion.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian15 Oct 2011 2:06 p.m. PST

Contact your lamdlord and "mildly suggest" that is would be in their interest to install one.

Housing codes should require these

pphalen Inactive Member15 Oct 2011 2:28 p.m. PST

If the outlet is up that high, I wouldn't worry about the need for a GFCI, since it sounds like it will stay dry.

If you do go with the extension chord idea, make sure it cand hanle high enough amperage for the hair dryer…

Gattamalata Inactive Member15 Oct 2011 5:03 p.m. PST

Contact your lamdlord and "mildly suggest" that is would be in their interest to install one.

Housing codes should require these


If it was in his interest, he'd have installed one years ago and no GFCI for the outlet near the sink. There might have been a garbage disposal unit at one point, but appears to have been removed, possibly by the owner, who most likely performed all the remodeling around the unit. On his previous visit, he agreed to pay for the installation of an outlet in the bathroom, but when the electrician showed up, I was told the owner needs to remove the tiles and I doubt this will happen, since he doesn't want anything hung up on the walls, unless art.laugh

The bathroom ceiling fixture is rusted on the inside, so had to use pliers to remove the glass cover to replace a burnt out bulb I'm guessing no one replaced the bulbs in over a year. Either the previous tenants, college kids, or the owner has a penchant for installing 100 Watt bulbs in 60 Watt fixtures, so had to replace all with 13 Watt CFLs (60 Watt equivalent). Both bedrooms and living room have precariously hanging chandeliers, the latter having a monster with 12 candle sockets, 6 and 5 in the bedrooms. The bulbs are small 3 or 4 inch flame shaped, so can't find CFL equivalents locally and have removed many of them, as 40-60 Watt bulbs x 12, 6 or 5 adds up and reflected in my September electric billfrown twelve years at the previous apartment and have never used 564 KWH in 33 days.

If it weren't for the rent control and great location in Brighton and being able to rent out my parking space, I'd have looked elsewhere. Also it's not as drafty nor as humid previous place and no silverfish in sight, though the occasional spider.thumbs up

Gattamalata Inactive Member15 Oct 2011 5:17 p.m. PST

If the outlet is up that high, I wouldn't worry about the need for a GFCI, since it sounds like it will stay dry.

The problem is the bulb cover prevents the hairdryer, with its built in GFCI from fitting in the socket. If it were positioned horizontally, it wouldn't be a problem.
If you do go with the extension chord idea, make sure it cand hanle high enough amperage for the hair dryer…

The extension cord has to be 12 or 14 gauge, but haven't yet found anything with a 9 or 12 foot length, so will tie the excess cord. The one in the link is an "Indoor/Outdoor cord for drills, hammer drills, circular saws, wet/dry vacs, lawn mowers, air compressors and other power tools" and "15A/125V/1875W," so it should be able to handle a hairdryer and the GFCI Surge Protector Plug is "15A/120V/1800W/80 Joules."

Gattamalata Inactive Member15 Oct 2011 8:57 p.m. PST

I found this one, the Coleman Cable 3535 14/3 General-Use Appliance Extension Cord and comes in 9 and 12 feet lengths and air conditioners, heaters, power tools and other major appliances. An hairdryer should work fine with this, but if someone would suggest something else…

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP18 Oct 2011 8:38 a.m. PST

Here's a few more thoughts…

A GFCI protects not just the outlet that it's part of, but all the outlets "downstream". In my house, for example, there's a GFCI outlet in the garage that daisy chains to the hall bathroom and the back patio. The latter two are not GFCI outlets, but are on the same circuit as the garage outlet and further down the line, so they all get the protection from the first one. It's possible that the bathroom outlet is on the same circuit as one in the kitchen, and thus protected and up to code even though the outlet doesn't have GFCI built in. This may be true regardless of the geometry, as in the example of my house. If this is true your landlord doesn't have to do anything, as this mess may be up to code.

However, given the overall mess you described, that seems unlikely.

If the landlord simply doesn't want the hassle of upgrading, suggest that you have the work done and send him the receipts in lieu of rent. Be sure to use the phrase "up to code" several times.

Otherwise the extension cord with GFCI protector will be the safest thing you describe. The overloaded fixtures and corrosion are worrisome. Remember that if your apartment is in this shape, so are all the others, and if a fire starts anywhere it effects everyone. An anonymous call to whoever enforces code over there might be in order…

Personal logo Ditto Tango 2 3 Supporting Member of TMP18 Oct 2011 12:58 p.m. PST

A GFCI protects not just the outlet that it's part of, but all the outlets "downstream".

Andrew, I don't think that's right. The GFCI protects against overloading of the GFCI receptacles. An unprotected circuit further down the line will not trip if you plug in a faulty appliance or if water gets in there causing a short. You can see that just by the wiring of a GFCI outlet. If the GFCI is put inside (ie, not at the end) of a line, you wire the GFCI so that the electrical line bypasses the GFCI breaker. If a tripped GFCI stops electricity down the line, than some boffo has screwed up royally like the idiot I bought my house from for the two out door circuits. frown We still call that moron "Captain Extension Cord" because any wiring he did was with extension cords with the female and or male ends cut off and taped to another cord…

If the landlord simply doesn't want the hassle of upgrading, suggest that you have the work done and send him the receipts in lieu of rent.

I don't think the landlord has that obligation since Gatta accepted the apartment… But then again Gatta did mention about the landlord agreeing to install an outlet.

Be sure to use the phrase "up to code" several times.

Most codes grandfather previous installations and only come into play when there are renovations being done. Of coure, that depends on the jurisdiction. You'll see a lot of older bathroms, for example, with the light and fan switch(s) still inside the bathroom. That of course, assumes that the landlord has been honest in renovations, but unless you can smell new paint/grout/wallpaper, it's pretty hard to prove renovations were performed past code implementation date unless you actually tear down the walls and hope to find a date stamp on one of the two by fours. grin

--
Tim

Gattamalata Inactive Member18 Oct 2011 4:56 p.m. PST

If the landlord simply doesn't want the hassle of upgrading, suggest that you have the work done and send him the receipts in lieu of rent. Be sure to use the phrase "up to code" several times.

He'd never go along with it. The day or two after we had moved in, after a phone conversation regarding the chandeliers, he came in and I learnt a few things:

1. Those chandeliers, despite appearing precariously positioned had never fallen, so I needn't worry.
2. For the little things, such as all the broken drawers and shelves in the kitchen, the tenant would have to fix those at their own expense. Parts of the kitchen look like it was constructed by someone who didn't measure as much and there are splinters in places.
3. Though he agreed to pay for installing an outlet in the bathroom, now that tiles have to removed, he'll more than likely decline.
4. He's an elderly tightwad who more than likely did all the renovating himself: the bedrooms and living room are perfectly painted, but the kitchen is old and the bathroom only has bits and pieces replaced, while the enclosed the balcony is drafty due to holes. Prior to moving in, it was mentioned to the realtor that the area around the bathtub needs to be re-grouted, but it was never done. Instead the surface was sloppily re-caulked and had thought it was done by the college students who were residing there, until the landlord said he did it.
5. The college students never bothered to clean anything, so there was a mice problem. The landlord said he'd cover the bill, but a phone call later, I found out that the building management covers the exterminator.

Otherwise the extension cord with GFCI protector will be the safest thing you describe.

I'll go ahead and order the items.
The overloaded fixtures and corrosion are worrisome. Remember that if your apartment is in this shape, so are all the others, and if a fire starts anywhere it effects everyone. An anonymous call to whoever enforces code over there might be in order…

It's a condominium and the other units are probably in a better condition with the fixtures and wiring IIRC, one unit was undergoing renovation. By chance, I ended up with a miserly landlord and I think he owns another unit in the building. An anonymous might aggravate things, as he'd eventually figure out who'd made the call and other than having to pay an electrician and carpenter, there's not much to complain about.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP18 Oct 2011 5:40 p.m. PST

I googled around a bit, and most sites say the GFCI outlet should be first from the supply (breaker box) to protect all the outlets in that line. One site said you should used GFCI receptacles at each location, but that was just one site.

I've done a bit of this, but I'm not a professional, but that's what I've learned.

Good luck with the situation, the other good things about the apartment do make the whole deal seem worthwhile. If you can arrange the extension cord neatly and keep it off the floor you shouldn't even have to think about this again.

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Gattamalata Inactive Member20 Oct 2011 11:23 a.m. PST

I googled around a bit, and most sites say the GFCI outlet should be first from the supply (breaker box) to protect all the outlets in that line. One site said you should used GFCI receptacles at each location, but that was just one site.

The breaker boxes for all the units are in the basement, another first for me, above and below the electricity meters, which I've been monitoring obsessively for the past month. If I understood the electrician correctly, since I tend to mix up terms, the whole unit is on one circuit, explains why all the lights dim when someone uses the vacuum cleaner or hairdryer in the living room.

Most of the cables run on the floor, as the owner doesn't want anyone drilling through walls, so will have to either purchase covers or attach with staples, tie-wraps or etc. some or all to the bottom of the walls. The previous tenants may have cut a groove in the bathroom door for an extension cord and I'll have to widen it for a 14 gauge which will probably run round the corners on the floor, as there's a built in closet door perpendicular to the bathroom. I could run the cable above the closet door to the floor then up again with an extension cord longer than 12 feet, but it seems like too much effort something that the owner should've done in the first place. The previous tenants lived here for a year and I'd assume college students or annual residents in previous years, so no one called him out on the outlets.

Personal logo Andrew Walters Supporting Member of TMP20 Oct 2011 4:08 p.m. PST

That's crazy. You may have to look into Tesla's idea for wireless power.

(That was a joke).

I have bunch of crazy ideas about how you could sort that place out, but I'll just suggest you don't use the vacuum cleaner and the microwave at the same time and leave it at that. Good luck!

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