Years of experience, and quite probably many tragedies, have made the UK wiring regulations what they are – good, sensible rules – albeit written in a somewhat impenetrable form. For all the right reasons, no power sockets or wall-mounted switches are allowed in bathrooms, and light fittings near the bath, shower and hand basin must be special water resisting types. However, what I find a little nuts is that there seem to be no special rules for the room immediately under the bathroom – normally the kitchen.
More than once, someone who has had a flood in the bathroom has told me the kitchen light fitting was “really hot” to touch when they got up to poke a hole in the ceiling to let the water out. Now maybe I am missing something here, but I suspect it would be possible to get a very nasty belt off a light fitting full of water, particularly with a soaked ceiling, water running down the walls, and pools on the kitchen floor. None of these people I know have been shocked during their experience, but this seems down to good luck rather than design. Can anyone tell me if there is a technical reason why light fittings beneath the bathroom do not have to be waterproof? Or if there is some reason that the situation I describe above is intrinsically safe? I don’t think the answer: “people should know better and turn the power off” counts, as protection of the ignorant seems to be one of the purposes of the wiring regs. ‘Alice’ (Picture – Leonid Mamchenkov, under Creative Commons Attribution Licence)