BATHROOM. What does this word mean to you? Do you see a picture in your head every time you hear the word? Do you get an involuntary shiver down your spine because of an unpleasant experience at a roadside restroom many years ago?
Well, whatever your mind conjures up, it is very definitely not what I am thinking of.
In fact, when it comes to SANS 10142-1 a ‘bathroom' is not really a room per se... not at all. Yes, you heard me... it is not necessarily a room as you have come to know it.
In fact, it can even exist as a tiny portion of a very large room...
If your floor area is say 10m by 10m the ‘bathroom' will only be about 10 to 12m² of that 100m² room - even less if you only have a shower.
So let us explore this ‘room' that is not a room (or is it?) a little more...
SANS 10142-1 Clause 3, Definition (paragraph 7), defines a bathroom as follows:
"room or part of a room that contains a bath, shower or spa (or any combination of these), each installed as a fixture."
Now, look carefully at the above statement... Can you spot what is missing?
Missing? Why? Because it's the ‘what's missing' bits that are the real key to understanding this very important definition.
For the purposes of SANS 10142-1, things like toilets, toilet cisterns, bidets, urinals and hand wash basins do not feature at all when it comes to defining the physical limits of a bathroom for the purposes of the code. Also, note the words: "part of a room".
To fit the definition perfectly then, a bathroom is thus a limited, defined space that only contains a bath, shower or spa tub (Jacuzzi) as fixtures. Yep... take note: fixtures.
Well, let's try it this way round: For the sake of electrical safety we need to take extra precautions in areas where you can be totally immersed in water - see Zone 0 further down. (This goes for swimming pools as well, but for now, we'll stick to the bathroom.)
As you know, water conducts electricity. So, when someone is immersed in a bath or standing under the shower, and something electrically goes wrong, the water can become live. It would be extremely difficult to escape the electric current swiftly. Therefore, the electrician has to be extra careful when placing or installing electrical equipment in a bathroom - around the bath, shower or spa actually.
I'm not saying you cannot get a lethal shock while washing your hands in a hand wash basin, but the chances of disrupting the flow of electricity (fault current) are a lot better - as you will fall to the floor and away from the electrified water.
You may recall Clause 3, Definition 5 defining "the Limits of Arm's Reach" - now with a little tweaking here and there, what do we get? The zones of a bathroom.
For easy application of a particular electrical safety requirement, the bathroom is divided into distinct zones, namely: Zone 0 - inside the bathtub or shower basin, Zone 1 - directly above the area that can contain water, Zone 2 - outside of the area that can contain water, and Zone 3 - even further from the water up to a maximum of 3m.
Please remember that it is quite possible to find a toilet or hand wash basin inside Zone 2 or 3, but for the purpose of applying safety measures, they do not matter here.
So, while looking at the bathroom zone measurements (limits) in Figures 7.1.1 to 7.1.5 in SANS 10142-1, bear in mind the measurements of "arm's reach" and that "surface expected to be occupied by persons" - the purpose of these measurements are exactly the same!
Note that all the measurements for the zones of a bathroom start at a fixed point or position. A fixed point... so I cannot have a loose metallic zinc or plastic tub somewhere on the floor in the kitchen or bedroom and call it a bathroom!
Now, by using Table 7.1 in SANS 10142-1 you will easily be able to determine which safety measures and installation rules apply. Also bear in mind that, over and above the ‘zone requirements', the type of appliance installed (class I or II, fixed, etc) could have additional installation requirements.
So, in future, you should never have to keep looking over your shoulder or doubting whether you have installed the electrics and appliances correctly in a bathroom.