Questions about adding vanity lights & moving switches in bathrooms

Help Support House Repair Talk:


Well-Known Member
Jun 5, 2014
Reaction score
I do not intend to run the wiring myself- I plan to get a professional to do it, but I want to make sure it's being done right and I am curious about what would work, what's to code, and so forth.

I've mentioned this before but recent electrical discussion has me curious. None of our bathrooms have vanity lights currently and I would like to add vanity lights to two of the bathrooms. I will use LED bulbs in them to reduce power usage (I also like that LEDs can be very bright). Both are bulb fixtures.

For the 1st one , it will be about 15' away from the breaker-- so maybe 20' to 25' wire to route around obstacles. I'm thinking of running the wires through the attic (instead of under the house bc it's a royal pain to crawl under there). There are currently no light fixtures on that side of the room and it's an exterior wall. I also want to add a rocker switch and GFCI outlet to the adjacent interior wall. There may be some electrical in that wall for the bedroom, but I don't want to tap in to that as my brother uses it to charge devices and run lamps and fans. I believe the light fixture has 14awg wires but I haven't really looked.

Additionally, I would like to add a vent/fan/heater light to the ceiling. I already have a Nutone one that can be installed. I need to find the specs. I believe it takes 15 to 20 amps but am not certain. It's at least 20yrs old and is still in the box. I know this means I will also have to run ductwork for it. I'm guessing it needs it's own breaker. I will have a 3-rocker switch that fits in a 1 gang box to take up less space. I'm trying to remember if it's 15amps or 20amps recommended for bathrooms if a hair dryer is being used. I believe the hair dryers pull 16 amps so maybe 20 would be good. (The reason I'm moving the light switch is because I'm adding a door to the room- there currently is no door & I want the switch to be in reach). I initially forgot to mention that there is an existing vent/light/heater in the ceiling of the existing bathroom (the bathroom we are tearing out) that I forgot to draw in- with a triple toggle switch. It no longer works as it's probably 50+ yrs old but I may be able to extend the ductwork form it to the new vent.
I almost forgot to mention that I already have wiring & an outlet for the washing machine in on the opposite interior wall and I plan to have an outlet for a shaving station there. I might just make that the 20amp outlet and have a hook for the hair dryer. I also plan to have a slim LED under cabinet strip on the wall with the 20amp outlet where the washing machine used to plug in). I will run a new line for the washing machine (and perhaps put in a new breaker & switch the wires so I won't have to change labels on the breakers (if that makes any sense). I'm debating whether to use a plug-in LED strip or have a hard-wired one. I will have a medicine cabinet below it so I'm thinking I could have another lower voltage outlet up above. It's likely there will end up being one of those outlet extenders or a surge protector strip mounted to the wall so the LED could plug in there & the hair dryer could plug in to the free slot on the outlet.

For the 2nd bathroom I already have a GFCI electrical outlet (I assume it's 15amp) in an exterior wall adjacent to an interior wall. I want to put the light on the interior wall and add a rocker switch for it. I already have a heat/light/vent with a 1-gang 3 switch but I want to change from toggle to rocker. Note: I generally do not use any hair dryers or curling irons or fancy crap. My brother is higher maintenance. He has an electric water pic, electric razors, electric toothbrush, etc. Last time I used a hair dryer was to try heat up some adhesive strips. If I need to use a hair dryer I can use it in my brother's bathroom/ aka guest bathroom.

  1. Does the wiring running through the attic need to be inside conduit?
  2. Can I use the 15 or 20amp GFCI outlet (next to the vanity) as a junction to run wiring to the single switch and then to the vanity light? Or should I have separate breakers for them and run the wires separately?
  3. Do I even need a 20amp for the GFCI?
  4. If the electrical for the bedroom is accessible, could I splice off of the outlet there to run power to the single switch & power the vanity light (since it is not expected to be on constantly)?
  5. If I have 12AWG wire coming from the box, can it connect to 14AWG at the switch? Or should I just run 14AWG the whole way?
  6. If it turns out that the existing switch for the ceiling fan is connected downstream or upstream to other outlets, what should I do? Just make it a junction box & put a cover plate?
  7. Should I run another line to hardwire an LED strip or would it be ok to use a surge protector power strip for an LED bar/strip above the medicine cabinet?
  8. Could I splice off of the 20amp outlet to have a lower voltage outlet above the recessed medicine cabinet to power the LED strip?
  9. Can I have a junction box in the attic (not sealed up) to extend the wires from the existing vent/light/heater to the new one a few feet away? I think it's less than 5' distance. Or should I just run new wire?
  10. If I have a junction box, what type would be best for an attic (to keep mice out & make sure no insulation gets in it to spark fires)?
  11. Is 12AWG ok for 20amp fixtures?
  12. For the 2nd bathroom, can I run wires from the 15amp GFCI to the rocker switch and then to the new vanity light?
  13. Would it hurt anything to run 12 AWG from the GFCI to the switch and then 14AWG from the switch to the light? (I know for a fact the vanity light for that room is 14AWG).
  14. If it turns out that the GFCI already connects to other outlets down the line, can I still splice off of it? (I'm not sure splice is the correct term)
  15. Any good tips for getting around corners with wires through studs? Do I just drill at the same height a certain distance in each direction and have the holes meet up or is there a better technique?
  16. Any recommended brands/types of rocker switches & outlets?

Crappy not-to-scale skethes:
This is the breaker box. I don't know what RS and RN stand for. I think DR = Dave's Room. I think his room only has 2 or 3 outlets total. He actually has one of his outlets connected to a light switch & he's taped the switch so it can't be flipped bc it's the outlet for his computer. I wonder if that can be re-wired so the switch only affects the ceiling light and not that outlet...
This shows the wires to dryer & washing machine
Editing to add that I will likely replace the washing machine's outlet with a GFCI if it is not already a GFCI. I may just replace it anyway because it's over 30yrs old. Dryer line will get replaced with 10/4 so I can have a 4 prong outlet.
Last edited:

Latest posts