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Thread: Wiring bathroom exhaust fans, GFCI concerns, NEC concerns.

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member rick15752's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2010

    Default Wiring bathroom exhaust fans, GFCI concerns, NEC concerns.

    Hi everyone,
    I'm renovating my bathrooms, 2 are second floor and 1 on the first floor. I'm in California. These bathrooms are small, 5 x 11 upstairs and 5 x 7 downstairs, and all have windows. However, building code now states that mechanical exhaust fans must be installed in each bathroom that has a tub or shower, regardless of the presence of windows. All bathrooms have showers. The home was built in 1985 so there is a single circuit that serves all bathroom outlets protected by one GFCI in the master bath. There is a separate circuit for the lights. If I'm interpretting the NEC correctly, 210.11(3) says you cannot run other things from the GFCI protected bathroom circuit. Can someone confirm? I was hoping to do that with the bathroom exhaust fan in one bathroom where I would place a Broan 744SFL on the ceiling in the shower area. The ceiling height is 87". The Broan 744SFL is rated for use above the shower as long as it is protected by a GFCI circuit.

    I don't want to run a new circuit from the panel. An alternative might be tapping into the light circuit to power a second GFCI which would then serve the fan controlled by a switch.

    Any NEC issues with that? A building permit was secured for the renovation work.


  2. #2
    Nuclear Engineer nukeman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    Since it looks like you are feeding two (or maybe 3?) bathrooms on that 20A circuit, then I agree that it looks like you cannot feed the fan off of your GFCI circuit. There is an exception to 210.11 (it is on the next page from where you are looking if you are using NEC 2008) that allows you to run the other bathroom fixtures (lights, fan, etc.) off of the 20A circuit IF you are only feeding just that one bathroom with that circuit.

    Could you move the fan so that it isn't directly above the shower and avoid the GFCI? Another option would be to take the lighting circuit, run to a box with a GFCI (could be a dead-front style (no outlets)) and then connect to your fan.

    If you haven't bought/installed the fan yet, you should also look at the Panaasonic fans. They are quiet, well built, and move a good about of air. I highly recommend them.

  3. #3


    Any other rooms in your house besides the bathrooms? Then you are in luck! Find an easy to access outlet in one of those other rooms that is as close as possible to the bathroom, is easy to access, and has a wire count low enough to allow you to tap into it. Replace this outlet with a GFI and feed your bath fan from here.
    There is no reason the GFI must be in the bathroom with the fan/light.


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