bathroom electrics aren't a DIY job
If you are thinking of updating your tired bathroom or installing an ensuite in your new extension there are some important rules relating to electrics you should be aware of before you start.
Not that many years ago you could have installed an electric socket, a shower or heated towel rail to your bathroom yourself but the rules governing this type of work changed dramatically for safety reasons in 2005. This is known at Part P legislation and means that any electrical work to a bathroom (and other special areas) needs to be carried out by a ‘competent person’ who is registered with a government approved scheme. The ‘competent person’ must produce a certificate and register the work with the relevant local authority to prove it has been done correctly.
Consider the space you have
Unless you are lucky enough to have a large space to play with, most bathrooms are typically quite small. This will probably mean your initial problem when designing/redesigning the space will be that it seems impossible to have enough distance from water to use electrics at all. The regulations try to offer different options however you should bear in mind, that for safety reasons, you may need to compromise.
What the regulations say
The regulations split your bathroom into zones depending on the electrical safety risk and the limitations on what you can do in each zone.
- Sockets should not be included in a bathroom (unless they are 3m from water). The exception being specially designed shaver sockets which can be as close as 600mm as long as they won't be subject to splashes.
- Light fittings should be enclosed and pull cords used or wall switches located outside the bathroom.
- An electric shower (which can have the highest demand on electricity of all household appliances) needs to be on its own circuit so that it is less likely to be overloaded and if it is, will automatically trip and turn off.
- Electric heating should 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. (A device designed to prevent you from getting a fatal electrical shock and which switches off electricity automatically if there is a fault.)
- Suitable ventilation may also be required to meet building regulations such as an extractor fan which must also be installed by an electrician.
- If you want to push the boat out and install a tv or spa bath both of these need to be RCD protected. You will also need to include an isolator switch outside the bathroom to turn them on and off, have them hardwired and protected from water where needed.
Your Part P electrician is responsible for reporting the work and you don’t need to do anything other than make sure you choose an electrician who is registered. You can find out if your electrician is registered by visiting the Registered Competent Person Electrical scheme. We would never recommend that you use an electrician who is not Part P certified for this type of work however if this is the case we can usually help by commissioning our third party competent person contact to check your electrician’s work. You would need to make an application to us (including payment of a fee) before the work is started though so please get in touch for more information.