One of the first lessons that most of us ever learn is that electricity and water don’t mix. Water is a fantastic conductor of electricity, posing a serious threat to life – the classic example cited is what would happen if someone dropped a toaster into a bath. While that scenario is unlikely to play out in your household – please don’t use your toaster in the bathroom, guys! – it is worth thinking about bathroom electrics.
Electrical safety in your home is always important, but nowhere is it more vital to get it right than with the bathroom. Put simply, there’s a lot of water in the bathroom. Not only is there the water running from faucets and the shower, but there’s also the impact of steam created by hot water in a cold room. All of this combined means that the bathroom can be a dangerous place to be – unless you take the necessary precautions.
Here are a few ideas on how to ensure your bathroom is both beautiful and safe, by putting electricity in its place…
Don’t Tolerate A Malfunctioning Shower
If your shower isn’t working well, then you should see this as a problem. If it’s intermittently cutting out – always when you have just shampooed up your hair, natch – then you need to investigate what’s causing the fault. The same is true if the fall suddenly weakens, or the water pressure becomes surprisingly forceful. Anything that is out of the ordinary needs investigation.
Electrical showers are a novelty that are fairly unique to the UK; as Best Spy point out, they’re not a common feature in the US, for example. The reason most countries avoid them is that they can be problematic to meet with building codes, given the proximity of water and electrics. However, they’re well worth having – you just need to maintain them properly. If a shower is malfunctioning, then repair or replace it as soon as you possible can.
Many bathrooms come with an outlet. It’s unlikely that it will be a conventional plug outlet, but you probably have a shaver outlet; the small, two-pronged attachments. While these were initially designed for shaving equipment, they are now used for a variety of purposes. Most electrical toothbrushes, for example, will be configured to fit into these outlets.
For the most part, shaver outlets are very safe; they are specifically engineered to be able to deal with the water they might encounter. Nevertheless, if you want to be extra cautious, it’s easy enough to cover them with a picture frame when not in use. This protects them from any stray droplets, guaranteeing that they will not only work in future, but that they will be safe to use as well.
Get Rid Of Or Modify Conventional Outlets
If you do have a conventional outlet – the three-pronged socket that you’ll also see in the rest of the house – then you should probably ask an electrician to remove it. These sockets can be installed by a gallant DIYer who lived in your home before you did, but the truth is, they’re a very bad idea. Even if you cover them when not in use, there is always a chance steam is going to slip inside of the mechanism – and that could result in a disaster for you.
Of course, this is inconvenient. The reason it’s useful to have an outlet in the bathroom is because of the amount of equipment you might want to use in there, such as hair straighteners or the hairdryer. However, it’s not worth the risk for the most part. If you really feel like you can’t do without, then at least ask an electrician to service the outlet and check it’s safe. They might also be able to install a plastic cover on a hinge, so that you dramatically lower the risk of any water ever getting into the electrical components.
Getting electricity and your bathroom right isn’t an option; it’s essential. While it may be inconvenient to go without sockets, it’s far healthier than the alternative options in a very literal sense. This is definitely not an area that you want to DIY; always consult a qualified electrician to make sure everything is working in a way that’s going to guarantee your safety and avoid any problems. Focus on the areas above, don’t take any unnecessary risks, and – most importantly – don’t forget that early life lesson about how dangerous electricity and water are when they meet. Be safe.