Adding an electrical outlet to your bathroom can provide many useful benefits. Extra outlets allow you to conveniently plug in grooming appliances like electric razors and hair dryers. They also make it easier to use cleaning tools like vacuums without running extension cords all over. However, bathrooms require careful planning for outlet placement and special safety considerations due to the presence of water. In this guide, we’ll walk through the key steps for successfully installing new electrical outlets in your bathroom.
Table of Contents
Assessing Your Bathroom’s Electrical Needs
Before getting started on outlet installation, take some time to assess your bathroom’s electrical needs and map out potential locations for placing new outlets. Consider the following factors:
Identifying locations for new outlets
Look for suitable spots on different walls around the bathroom to place outlets. Ideally, outlets should be located near sinks or other areas where you need to plug in grooming appliances and devices. However, outlets cannot be installed within 3 feet of bathtubs or shower stalls according to National Electrical Code regulations.
Avoid mounting outlets directly above sinks or other wet areas. The backsplash area between the counter and mirror is often a good spot. Walls near the toilet or medicine cabinets also work well.
Considering purpose of additional outlets
Decide what types of devices you need to plug in to determine amps and voltage required. Smaller grooming appliances may only need standard 15-amp, 120-volt outlets. But larger high-wattage hair dryers or other devices may require 20-amp, 120-volt outlets for more power. Consider possible future needs too.
Determining amps and voltage required
The circuit powering the bathroom must have enough capacity to support any added outlets you’ll be installing. Avoid overloading existing circuits which can blow fuses. Older bathrooms may have just a single 15-amp circuit. Adding a new 20-amp circuit from the breaker panel might be needed if adding multiple outlets.
Getting Necessary Permits and Permission
Before moving on to the installation process, be sure to get any required permits and permission. This ensures your project follows local electrical codes and building regulations.
Checking local electrical codes
Most areas require permits for adding new outlets or circuits. Research your local city or county permitting process and acquire the proper electrical permit. Permits are typically issued after an inspection of the completed work.
Hiring a licensed electrician
If complicated new wiring is needed or you lack electrical experience, consider hiring a professional electrician to handle the outlet installation safely. They can pull permits and have work inspected as well.
Notifying landlord if renting
If you rent your home, contact the landlord regarding adding new outlets which would involve modifying building wiring. Get their approval before starting electrical work.
That covers the key introductory information on assessing bathroom electrical needs and getting proper permissions. The next section will go over the materials and tools required for the outlet installation project.
Materials and Tools Needed
Once you are ready to start the outlet installation, gather the necessary materials and tools:
Electrical wires and boxes
- Romex NM-B 14/2 or 12/2 gauge wiring (matched to circuit amperage)
- Appropriate electrical boxes with covers/faceplates for mounting outlets
- Clamp connectors to secure wiring
Conduit and fittings
- Conduit pipes and elbow joints to protect exposed wiring
- Conduit mounting straps and hardware
Wire strippers and crimpers
- Wire stripping tool to remove insulation
- Crimping pliers to attach wire connectors
Voltage tester and multimeter
- Non-contact voltage tester to safely check for live wiring
- Multimeter to test circuits for proper operation
Other safety gear and basic hand tools
- Safety glasses and work gloves for eye/hand protection
- Tape measure, level, screwdrivers, pliers, cable cutters, drywall saw, stud finder, etc.
Make sure all electrical products are UL/ETL certified for safety standards compliance. Have your licensed electrician verify the correct materials for the outlets being added and existing electrical system.
Purchase sufficient electrical box mounting screws, wall plate covers, conduit fittings, wire connectors, cable clamps, junction boxes, and other hardware items as needed. Allow extra length for feeding wiring through walls and conduit.
Steps for Installing New Electrical Outlet
With the proper materials gathered, you’re ready to install the new bathroom electrical outlet. Follow these key steps:
Turn off power and test that it’s off
Shut off the circuit breaker for the bathroom at the main electrical panel. Use a non-contact voltage tester to confirm power is off before working on any wiring.
Cut power from breaker panel
To add a dedicated circuit, shut off the main before the breaker panel. Then feed and connect new 12/2 Romex cable from breaker panel into the bathroom for the circuit.
Remove drywall and drill access holes
Cut out drywall sections between studs where wiring will run. Drill holes through top and bottom wall plates for feeding wires between wall cavities.
Fish and pull wires through walls
Use a fish tape to thread cables through holes and cavities between the outlet boxes and power source. Carefully pull wiring to avoid damage.
Install electrical box and mount to stud
Securely fasten plastic or metal outlet boxes between studs at desired height. Use appropriate screws through predrilled mounting holes.
Connect wires securely in box
Use wire nuts to connect hot, neutral and ground wires properly at outlets and with power source. Follow color coding.
Install outlet and faceplate
Attach outlet to box securely and install wall plate cover. Use weatherproof outlet covers in damp areas near sinks.
Turn power back on and test outlet
Re-enable circuit breaker and test new outlet for proper operation. Plug in a lamp to confirm it powers on.
Finishing Drywall and Access Holes
Once the new wiring is complete, you can patch up any holes that were cut and refinish the drywall:
Patch holes with drywall compound
Fill gaps around boxes and access holes with drywall joint compound. Apply in thin coats and allow drying fully between applications.
Sand patched areas smooth
Use fine grit sandpaper to smooth dried compound until flush with wall surface. Avoid damaging the walls.
Prime and paint patched drywall
Apply drywall primer to sealed areas, then paint with bathroom paint to match existing color and finish.
That covers the essential steps for safely adding an electrical outlet to your bathroom by running new wiring. Next we’ll go over some important safety tips and precautions…
Safety Tips and Precautions
When dealing with electrical wiring around plumbing fixtures, take these additional safety measures:
Use GFCI outlets near sinks and tubs
Install ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets which shut off power in milliseconds if electricity contacts water. These are required by code for bathrooms.
Avoid overloading circuits
Don’t plug too many high-wattage appliances into a single circuit. Overloads can trip breakers or cause dangerous overheating.
Hire electrician for complicated wiring
If the existing wiring is old, or you need to run wiring through finished walls, consider hiring a professional electrician to do the work safely.
Proper planning is key to effectively adding outlets while avoiding possible issues down the road. Now let’s wrap this up with some final thoughts…
Do I need a permit to add an outlet to my bathroom?
Yes, most areas require electrical permits for any new wiring work to ensure it is up to local code. Some minor repairs may be exempt. Check with your city or county permitting office.
How far from the sink can I install an outlet?
Outlet placement must be at least 3 feet away from sinks or other water sources according to electrical code. The backsplash area is often a convenient spot.
Should I upgrade my bathroom’s circuit breaker?
If adding multiple new outlets, it’s a good idea to upgrade the bathroom circuit to 20 amps instead of 15 amps to avoid overloads. Consult an electrician.
What’s the cost to add an outlet in my bathroom?
Expect to pay $100-$250 in materials plus $50-$100 per hour in electrician labor for simple outlet installation. More complex wiring or additions could cost more.
Can I place an outlet inside my bathroom’s cabinet?
Yes, as long as it meets the required electrical code clearances from plumbing fixtures and is GFCI protected. The wiring run must be accessible too.
Installing additional electrical outlets in your bathroom provides many useful benefits for powering grooming appliances and devices. But bathrooms require special planning and safety precautions when adding outlets due to the presence of plumbing and water.
Following basic guidelines like getting permits, using GFCI outlets, avoiding overloads, and hiring electricians for complicated wiring will ensure your outlet project is completed properly and safely. Added outlets should be conveniently placed, meet your voltage/amperage needs, use appropriate mounting boxes, and have accessible wiring runs.
With careful planning and preparation, you can successfully upgrade your bathroom with new electrical outlets on your own and enjoy the added convenience. Just be sure to do your homework first!