DIY How To

Safety in the bathroom

It is a known fact that electricity and water are not a good mix, with the need for extreme caution when planning to do any DIY work that involves installing, repairing or replacing electrical in this environment.

Aside from the taking care, there are also a number of safety regulations that must be followed, and it is critical for your well-being that you read and understand these in advance and implement them properly.

Electrical Regulations

What are IP numbers and why are they important?
An IP number tells you that the equipment you want to install has been tested and has passed a standard for use in areas where moisture is present, and is protected against any moisture from water, condensation or steam entering either the electrical or mechanical areas.

The IP number relates to the suitability of the equipment for specific uses and the higher the number, the better protected the equipment is. So, for example, equipment with an IP number IPX7 is tested and suitable for complete immersion in water.

Typical equipment that must have an IP number if you plan to fit it in a bathroom will be lighting, including vanity units with built-in lighting, extractor fans, heaters and shower pumps and wall fittings such as sockets and fused switches. Shaver points are not covered by IP ratings providing they comply with BS EN 60742.

IEE Zones 0, 1 & 2 Regulations and what they mean
The Zone regulations set out by the IEE relate to the wiring and fitting of electrical equipment in the bathroom, and each designates a specific area. For example, Zone 0 relates to the inside of the bath or shower which states that any equipment must be a maximum of 12 volt and a IPX7.

Zone 1 designates the area directly above the bath or shower up to a height of 2.25m except where ceiling heights are up to 3 metres and a minimum of 1.2m from the water outlet. Above 3m height is considered 'out of scope' for the regulations as is the area under a bath or shower providing it cannot be easily accessed. For example, if a screwdriver is required to remove a panel and gain entrance.

If equipment being fitted in the Zone area 1 is 240V, then it requires a 30mA RCD (residual current device) to protect the circuit SELV (Separated Extra–Low Voltage) with the transformer located outside the Zone 2 area. All devices in this Zone need to have an IP rating of IPX4, but if likely to be cleaned heavily using a high speed water jet then the rating must be IPX5 and above.

The area covered by zone 2 is specifically a minimum of 0.6m that outside the immediate vicinity of the bath or shower and includes any window sill next to the bath and the area above the basin and within 0.6m of the taps. The Zone 2 region requires equipment utilised to have an IPX4 rating and again a SELV with transformer outside the Zone 2 area.

Outside the scope of IEE Regulations
Mostly it comes down to common sense when considering areas outside the immediate scope of the IEE Regulations especially as Zone 3 is no longer used as a safety designation and everything outside Zones 0 - 2 is now considered 'outside the scope' unless as noted previously water jets are used in cleaning, in which case this requires all equipment to have an IP rating of IPX5 and above.

Additionally, if portable electrical equipment is to be used, this must be plugged in outside the bathroom area i.e. in a socket located close to the door but outside the room. It must also be far enough way so that devices not have flexes long enough to allow them to be used inside Zone 2.

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