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Old 06-22-2018, 09:34 PM   #1
greenjp
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another Jeff's bathroom remodel

Howdy folks. A few months ago I completed a shower rebuilding project. Now it's time to move on to the rest of the bathroom. The next phase is to do the floor, the tile "wainscotting" around the walls, a new vanity, and redo the tiling around the jacuzzi tub. We ordered a new vanity today which should arrive in 5 weeks or so.

My order of operations is going to be:
1) remove existing vanity, toilet, baseboard molding, and remove/demo the tiles from the tub enclosure
2) tear out existing vinyl/linoleum floor and lauan underlayment.
3) install 1/2" plywood over existing 3/4" subfloor (joists are at 24" spacing with one pair at 18" where they run under the tub) Meets the L/360 per the TJI tech data.
4) tile floor using Ditra/Stratamat/similar OR maybe do Ditra Heat or similar. Have a few questions on this
5) Install vanity
6) Wall & tub tiling

A few questions as I get started with my planning:
- should I tile under where the vanity will be (it won't be visible), just set the vanity on the 1/2" ply, or maybe put another layer of 1/2" ply there to get it up to the same level as the tile?
- Regarding the power supply for a Ditra Heat system, Schluter has this to say: "A dedicated circuit is recommended for each application." and "A Class A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is required for each circuit. The DITRA-HEAT-E thermostats include a GFCI, thus a GFCI circuit breaker is not required when using these thermostats." I read that as the dedicated circuit being recommended but not required, and that I should either use the thermostat itself provides the GFCI function, or swap out the breaker for a GFCI type. My local code guy told me that there isn't a code requirement for a dedicated circuit, just the usual 80% of the breaker rating limit and a deference to the manufacturer requirements. I ask because it would be difficult/expensive to run another circuit up from the breaker to this 3rd floor bathroom. I could pretty easily tap an existing lighting circuit that I suspect (need to verify) has very little load on it. My floor would require about 3.5 amps. Does that sound like a reasonable approach?
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Old 06-23-2018, 09:44 AM   #2
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3.5 amps? Must be a really small bathroom. Thatís a fairly low current drain, so you could tap off a lighting circuit (which are almost always 14g wire @ 15A max). So long as your inspector doesnít require a separate circuit, electrically youíd be OK. You definitely want the GFI in the controller vs. at the panel because 1- some regions require GFI circuits to be separate from lighting in bathrooms and 2- I think itís so if your hair dryer drops in the tub you wonít get shocked and wonít be left in the dark. Nothing worth than getting electrocuted in the shower in the dark. If you have a window in the bathroom it may not apply (so you can get electrocuted in the shower and not be in the dark). Check and be sure youíre no where near about 8A drain on the lighting circuit with everything on so you have some current headroom. LED bulbs may be a solution if youíve got a bunch of big incandescent bulbs on that line.
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Old 06-23-2018, 12:13 PM   #3
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3.5 amps sounds very little. That translates to 420 watts. Are you sure of that? If a small heating wire run, this could indeed be correct. Such a small load would be ok to add to a lighting circuit, especially if you are an LED user (which minimize the current draw on a circuit tremendously). Do a load calculation and check what wire size you have on that circuit (14 or 12).

I personally would prefer a dedicated circuit to this bathroom and would put a GFCI/AFCI combination breaker in the panel. That way, the entire branch would be protected by the latest standards (when we redid our panel, they didn't have the two-in-one devices yet, but that's just me overthinking possible safety issues). I would also use a cable with AWG 12 wire, not 14. Are you sure it'd be difficult to bring in the wire? Electrical fishing tape can do incredible things.

Also, maybe there is another circuit nearby that'd be even better to tap into. Have you checked?
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Old 06-26-2018, 08:15 AM   #4
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The bathroom floor is about 60 square feet, not including the shower or the Jacuzzi tub. Sketch attached. About 10 of that is the vanity, another 10 maybe is around and behind the toilet, and I'm planning to put in a small step for the tub so take out a few more. Schluter's calculator suggests a kit with a 106' of cable covering 32 square feet drawing 405 watts at 3.4 amps.

I checked the circuits, turns out bathroom outlets are on their own circuit, while the lights are on a shared circuit with the lights and outlets in the adjoining rooms. High chance of running a vacuum on those outlets so I looked for other options. Our washing machine (10 amp rated load) is right next to this bathroom and has a 20 amp dedicated circuit. This looks like the most promising option. I'm going to verify wire size and use an ammeter to check the loads.
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Old 06-26-2018, 08:32 AM   #5
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FWIW, the NEC requires that the laundry receptacle be on a circuit without any other loads [210.11(C)(2)]. The circuit serving the bathroom GFCI receptacle may serve other loads in the bathroom if it serves no loads outside of that particular bathroom [210.11(C)(3)].

Is the shared circuits with the lights and other receptacles a 15 amp or 20 amp circuit?

Cheers, Wayne
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Old 06-26-2018, 08:37 AM   #6
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Jeff, is your heater really only 500 watts? I think if your proposed load is much higher, then the additional frequent inductive loads (high inrush current) of a washer's motor could trip the breaker. Usually, breakers are built to not give false responses to the inrush currents that a motor produces, though. And you're right that the vacuum would produce a higher spike.

If your heater is still only 500 watts, then I'd consider the regular bathroom circuit. With 20 amps, you can have a hair dryer on and operate your heater without trouble.

Another consideration: If you put a (relatively) higher resistive load on a light circuit, then the cycling of that resistive load (depending on the thermostat's response) might cause a slight but annoying dimming of the bulbs. This is more pronounced with sensitive bulbs such as LEDs that respond keenly to small voltage drops in the system (as would be caused by a heater).

I think Wayne is onto something when he quotes the NEC. Keep that washer circuit dedicated.
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Old 06-26-2018, 09:12 AM   #7
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Excellent info! Thanks very much. There goes the idea of putting it on the washer circuit I believe these floors are nominally 10-12 watts per square foot, so ~35 square feet of heated area works out to ~400 watts which matches Schluter's recommendation.

I believe the lighting and non-bathroom outlets circuit is only 15 amps. It has a ceiling fan with 2 bulbs, 4 double outlets, 6 bulbs in the bathroom, and the exhaust fan connected to it. I'll check the amps with everything running plus a vacuum and see what I get.

I did not check the bath GFCI circuit size. Will double check that as well as whether it's only for that room or also the other small bath on the same floor.

Last, there's also a 20 amp GFCI circuit dedicated for the Jacuzzi tub. The tub doesn't have heat, just the pump. Maybe that one could be used?

Going to be out of town for a few days but will try to get my hands on an ammeter and check things out this weekend.

Any thoughts on what to do under the vanity while we're at it?
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Old 06-26-2018, 03:59 PM   #8
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No, According to the electrical code the jacuzzi needs its own dedicated gfci circuit.
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Old 07-06-2018, 01:55 PM   #9
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Alright I borrowed a Fluke amp meter from the office and did some testing this afternoon. The bathroom GFCI circuit is shared with other bathrooms so that one was out, as are the jacuzzi and washer circuits, as tempting as they may be. That left me with the 15 amp lighting and receptacle circuit serving the master bedroom and master bath. This also includes the light in the adjacent closet where the washer and dryer are, but not the light in the master bedroom walk in closet. Go figure.

Anyhow I hooked up the amp meter, pointed my phone at it and started a video recording. With everything turned off except for the alarm clock it read 0.3 amps - not sure if the clock actually draws that much or if it was an inaccuracy due to using the flexible loop CT. I then proceeded to turn on various things and determined the following:
permanently connected lamps and fans (ceiling and bath exhaust) totaled 2 amps.
Some other table lamps and fans totaled another 0.5 amps
Our electric blanket draws 1 amp.
The vacuum cleaner with the brushroll on draws 8.5 amps.
A hair dryer on full blast draws another 10.5.
With everything going the total draw was 23.5 amps but for whatever reason the breaker didn't trip. The vacuum motor did noticeably slow down when I turned on the hair dryer

Got an excerpt of the 2008 NEC here which says on page 226 under "Fifteen-ampere branch circuits" that "If the circuit serves lighting outlets and/or portable appliances, as is usually the case, as well as fixed (permanently connected) appliances, the total of all the fixed appliances may not exceed 7.5 amps."

I'm not sure if the permanent lighting fixtures and fans count as "permanently connected appliances" - if they do then it looks like I've got 5.5 amps available for the floor, and if they don't then it's 7.5. Either way enough to work. We'll probably want to be careful not to run the hair dryer off the bedroom outlets while the floor is heating up though

Assuming I've got this right and I'm a go - anyone have experience using Laticrete's new "Strata Heat" system? It looks like a straight rip off of Ditra Heat a la the Prodeso and NuHeat membrane systems. It allows for modified mortars for setting the tile which I like, and also looks to be available for a not insignificantly lower price than those systems.

Also, I'd like to build a small step for the jacuzzi tub - I'm figuring to make it out of 2x4s and plywood while I've got everything ripped out, then wrap it in Ditra or Wedi board or something before tiling. Any tips on putting something like that in?

I also think I'm going to tile under the vanity - a few more square feet of tile but I won't have to worry about figuring out exactly where to tile up to.

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Old 07-06-2018, 05:08 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff
With everything going the total draw was 23.5 amps but for whatever reason the breaker didn't trip.
I picked a random circuit breaker brand and looked at their trip curve for 15 amp circuit breakers. If I've read the chart correctly, a 1.5x overload may take as long as two minutes to trip. A 1.25x overload may never trip.

Cheers, Wayne
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Old 07-06-2018, 11:31 PM   #11
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When we bought our house, I found a 30 amp single-pole breaker in my box that was connected to 12 gauge wire. Someone probably decided that the nuisance trips of an overloaded circuit could be solved with this dangerous solution. One could only hope it wasn't a licensed electrician who put it in. But I believe for that matter that the 30 amp single pole breakers are very popular at home improvement stores.
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Old 07-07-2018, 06:24 AM   #12
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I was talking about this project with a neighbor who commented that if it was close I could just change out the 15 amp breaker for a 20 amp one. I was like uh thanks for the advice I'm DIYing all this stuff but that doesn't mean I don't want to do it correctly.

The Strata Heat mat (150 ft square roll, way more than I need), touchscreen thermostat, and 133' wire totals only $515 delivered from a reputable online store. Laticrete also makes a conductive thinset additive, $26 of which would be enough for my project. Laticrete is also offering a 10% mail in rebate on these products, though it's not clear if it's available to DIYers. The other systems all checked in well over $600 for a similar setup. Am I missing anything?
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Old 07-09-2018, 08:38 AM   #13
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I guess nobody's used Strata Heat yet

Can anyone who has experience installing these sorts of decoupling systems (Ditra, Ditra Heat, Stratamat, etc) provide some insight on the appropriate mortar to water ratio for adhering them to a wooden subfloor? The directions universally advise to mix them "somewhat loose" or similar and the videos show a practically fluid consistency (check out the 3:20 mark), and yet we're also advised to follow the mortar manufacturer's recommended mixing directions, which definitely do not result in such a loose consistency.

FWIW Mapei advised me of a 4:1 ratio for Ultraflex 2. I asked and got a blessing to go down to 4:1.25 (3.2:1) because I found 4:1 to provide for a rather dry/stiff mix in the partial bag batches I was using for my shower. Even the 4:1.25 was nowhere near what I would call "loose". They said not to go with any more water than that - but I see no possible way to get the consistency shown in the videos than by using a fair bit more water. Laticrete tech support wasn't much help - they said "We do not provide a ratio, we would go by consistency. But if you were to mix a full bag of 254, Iíd go to 6 Quarts instead of 5.5." 6 is the upper range provided in the TDS.

I've searched for some specific advice on this subject but only have found folks describing how they do it by feel or experience. Hoping someone can put that experience into numbers to give this DIYer a head start. Thanks.
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:33 AM   #14
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I had the same impression of Laticrete customer service Despite their products' great reputation and quality (and I agree with that), their customer service was a disappointment. They stick to a script and will not give individual situational advice. I inquired about mixing ratios for Spectralock grout, and they were outright stubborn and unhelpful ("We can't tell you... we can't tell you...").
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Old 07-09-2018, 09:39 AM   #15
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I used Versabond to thinset my DitraHeat to the plywood. I did mix it a scootch wetter than the maximum on the label to get it to ooze into the fibers on the back of the membrane. Iím figuring the wood absorbed some water too.
Itís been down over a year and no issues yet (I canít believe itís been that long and Iím still working on that bathroom - cabinet maker issues...).
You could make up a test plank of plywood/mortar of your choice/membrane at different water ratios and see how they compare after a time.
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