Receptacle Near Tub

I believe this is an except from the 2020 NEC:

“Receptacles shall not be installed within a zone measured 900 mm (3 ft) horizontally and 2.5 m (8 ft) vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower stall threshold. The identified zone is all-encompassing and shall include the space directly over the tub or shower stall.”

Now I know we’re not code inspectors but this piqued my curiosity. I did some searching and wasn’t able to find a great answer. Now I understand this to be above the rim, say its below the rim of a bathtub, on a wall perpendicular to the bathtub, and within that 3 ft horizontally? This would be permitted by code?

Thanks for any insight ya’ll can help provide here.

Residential Changes for the 2020 NEC - IAEI Magazine

406.9(C) Receptacle Locations Around Bathtub and Shower Spaces

Receptacle outlets will now be prohibited from being installed within a “zone” measured 900 mm (3 ft) horizontally and 2.5 m (8 ft) vertically from the top of the bathtub rim or shower stall threshold with this identified zone being all-encompassing and including the space directly over the tub or shower stall. In bathrooms with dimensions less than the required zone, by exception, the required receptacle(s) will be permitted to be installed opposite the bathtub rim or shower stall threshold on the farthest wall within the room. The provisions of 210.52(D) demand that at least one receptacle outlet be installed in dwelling unit bathrooms within 900 mm (3 ft) of the outside edge of each basin. The new “zone” for receptacle outlets is very similar to the existing prohibitive “zone” established for luminaires, ceiling-suspended (paddle) fans, and track lighting at 410.10(D), which has been a part of the Code since the 1996 NEC revision cycle.

The previous language at 406.9(C) stated that receptacles were not to be installed “within or directly over a bathtub or shower stall.” This language was vague, leading to confusion and inconsistent interpretation as to what defined the bathtub or shower stall “area.” Was it the shell of the bathtub or shower stall, or was it the walls enclosing the tub or shower? Was it the inside of the bathtub, or was it the tub and the rim level of the tub as well? It should also be noted that this 900 mm (3 ft) horizontal and 2.5 m (8 ft) vertical “zone” is most often associated with dwelling units, but a closer study of this requirement here at 406.9(C) and 410.10(D) for luminaires and ceiling fans will reveal that these requirements are not exclusive to dwelling units only.



That illustration perfectly explains exactly what I was thinking! Thank You so much Marcel.

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I’m assuming that this is from Mike Holt to go along with the graphic? I would disagree with the previous language being vague. How much clearer does this need to be when it says within or directly above?

2017 NEC:
406.9(C) Bathtub and Shower Space. Receptacles shall not be installed within or directly over a bathtub or shower stall.


Sounds like some incorrectly applied the footprint of the water vs the actual footprint of the tub.

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The reason I brought this up is because I inspected a home the other day of which there was a Receptacle about 18 inches horizontally from a tub, but below the rim by around 8 inches. As I read the NEC, this would not be a voilation.

This was however reported as a defect by the inspection performed before me. In Saint Paul, Minnesota, we have whats called a “Truth In Sale and Housing Inspection”, and this inspector put this receptacle in the report. These inspections in my opinion are nearly worthless and an example of what can go wrong when the local authorities take up the responsibilities of regulating inspections.

I think clearly people can misread this, how its written in the code, and how its illustrated above is exactly how I interpretted it, however, clearly the inspector prior to me interprets this differently.

The receptacle mentioned would not have been a violation under the NEC.

Brandon, are you saying it was mentioned before it needs to continue to be listed as a defect even though it was wrongly identified prior?

Not at all. I simply am saying clearly people are misinterpretting the NEC. I didn’t mention it in my report and when question I said I didn’t see it as a problem (It was also GFCI protected), I did however inform the buyers they’re welcome to move the receptacle if they feel compelled to do so. (or have an electrician to do so.)

Prior to the 2020 NEC it was permitted anywhere outside of the edge of the tub. Now it has to be below the rim of the tub. I don’t see either option as an issue.

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Agreed Robert. Could it become an issue? Sure if a shower curtain fails, etc. But I inform clients how to use shower curtains, so I’m covered. :wink:

Often the toilet is between the tub and the sink. Now more than ever toilets are requiring a receptacle typically mounted low on the wall adjacent to the toilet. You might be out of luck if you have a shower.

Is that for a bum cleaner (to heat the water), Rob? My brother-in-law has them and they love them.

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Don’t see the OP as a defect by either older code or the 2020 NEC. Despite being less than 3 feet horizontally from the tub it is below the rim of the tub (where the three foot measure starts).

The two lines above and the Mike Holt picture should explain it completely and succinctly to any buyer.

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And to plug in your phone, a phone which is required these days in order to have a successful bowel movement. :joy:


All you folks addicted to their phones… A Reader’s Digest still works for me. :thinking:


isn’t this where You plug in the toaster ???

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Had a client have me install one there before I retired for their electric toilet seat :roll_eyes:

They are becoming more prevalent especially in high end bathrooms. I can imagine the outrage that a client would have when you tell them that you cannot install a receptacle next to their $5000 toilet.

It has other uses if you run out of TP. Them Sears & Roebuck catalogs are sure hard to find. . .