SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
Houzz Logo Print
joeyjoey1

Jacuzzi wiring; outdoor EMT, THHN vs Romex, distance above grade

joeyjoey1
7 years ago

Hello all - trying to
hire an electrician to run power to a jacuzzi and possibly a jacuzzi
heater (each requiring a dedicated circuit). The home was handed over
to us with the tub inoperable and apparently rigged for inspection, but
that doesn't really matter anymore.

I've already had electricians visit, and have been told different things
regarding what's possible and what's allowed, with each contradicting
the other, hence I'm here.

The facts:
-We need at least one 15-amp line for the jacuzzi motor (though a #12 20-amp line may be smarter to be "future-proof"?)
-We may opt for a 2nd 15-amp (or 20-amp) line for a heater for the tub, though a heater is not yet installed.
-With our finished basement and the tub being two floors above there is
no good in-wall route - at least part of the run must be in outdoor
conduit

One electrician proposed running EMT conduit down from the outdoor
breaker box, along the foundation about 4" above ground (a concrete
patio) before heading up the exterior wall and entering the home below
the tub (there's an overhang where the tub is).

The next electrician proposed running EMT conduit up from the box,
running it under our deck the opposite direction, heading up a corner of
the home beside a gutter, then penetrating into the attic and going the
full length of the house to the master bath where the tub is located.

Each says what the other proposes is not not allowed.

One said that the run along the foundation is not permitted. He said it
must be at least 12" above the ground (rain/snow) when I asked about
this possibility.

They also disagreed about the type of wire that must be used. When I
mentioned possibly running two 15-amp (or 20-amp) lines in the same
conduit one told me that we would have to switch to Romex instead of
THHN. The other said we'd use THHN the whole way and Romex is not
allowed (for both outdoor use and/or inconduit, so a double-whammy
there).

So what are the correct answers?
1) Are two THHN circuits allowed within the same 1/2" EMT conduit?
2) Are two Romex circiuts allowed within the same 1/2" EMT conduit?
3) OR, is neither correct and a different type of wire required?
4) Can an EMT conduit not be run a few inches above ground on the exterior of a home?

I'm just assuming EMT is acceptable for this outdoor use. I actually
had a 3rd electrician out but he proposed using an existing 20-amp line
in the basement ceiling, somehow fishing or going through 20ft of floor
joists to the outside wall, penetrating and running IMC on the exterior
straight up to the bathroom and penetrating back in. His quote was
about 250% more expensive than the others...

Thanks so much everyone for any answers.

Comments (19)

  • joeyjoey1
    Original Author
    7 years ago

    Thank you, Ron. You seem very knowledgeable.

    Now forgive my ignorance, but I'm unsure what to do next really. I found two of these guys as top rated options in my area on Angies list, and the 3rd was by referral from a neighbor. I'm not sure where to look for a "spa electrician". It is discouraging that I could have easily hired any one of them already had the others not contradicted what each said.

    I didn't mention, but both dedicated circuits would terminate in GFCI outlets in the severely cramped access panel (or more like "tunnel").

    I'd like to address these issues with at least one of the electricians, so you can tell me why EMT would not be legal for this purpose? If I just say I read it in a forum that will have far less bearing that actually knowing the reason or code that addresses this.


    I tried to look up the code online, and have access to the 2014 version (I think we may be under 2011 here, but I'm not sure). There is a section VII in 680 that deals specifically with "hydromassage bathtubs", which I'm thinking may be exactly what a Jacuzzi tub in our master bath would be?

    I have no idea where to find information on what type of outdoor conduit and wiring is actually permitted along the outside of our home, or for the indoor wiring/conduit if it is different from that in the normal single-family dwelling, and bathroom specific, code.

    Thanks again.


  • Fred S
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    680.21 Motors. (This part does not actually apply here, but look at (A)(2))

    (A) Wiring Methods. The wiring to a pool motor shall comply with (A)(1) unless modified for specific circumstances by (A)(2), (A)(3), (A)(4), or (A)(5).

    (1) General. The branch circuits for pool-associated motors shall be installed in rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, rigid polyvinyl chloride conduit, reinforced thermosetting resin conduit, or Type MC cable listed for the location. Other wiring methods and materials shall be permitted in specific locations or applications as covered in this section. Any wiring method employed shall contain an insulated copper equipment grounding conductor sized in accordance with 250.122 but not smaller than 12 AWG.

    (2) On or Within Buildings. Where installed on or within buildings, electrical metallic tubing shall be permitted.

    (3) Flexible Connections. Where necessary to employ flexible connections at or adjacent to the motor, liquidtight flexible metal or liquidtight flexible nonmetallic conduit with approved fittings shall be permitted.

    (4) One-Family Dwellings. In the interior of dwelling units, or in the interior of accessory buildings associated with a dwelling unit, any of the wiring methods recognized in Chapter 3 of this Code that comply with the provisions of this section shall be permitted. Where run in a cable assembly, the equipment grounding conductor shall be permitted to be uninsulated, but it shall be enclosed within the outer sheath of the cable assembly.

    VII. Hydromassage Bathtubs (YES, this is the only part of 680 that applies)

    680.70 General. Hydromassage bathtubs as defined in 680.2 shall comply with Part VII of this article. They shall not be required to comply with other parts of this article.

    II. Installation (EMT is totally legal with the proper fittings)

    358.10 Uses Permitted .10 Uses Permitted.

    (A) Exposed and Concealed. The use of EMT shall be permitted for both exposed and concealed work.

    (B) Corrosion Protection. Ferrous or nonferrous EMT, elbows, couplings, and fittings shall be permitted to be installed in concrete, in direct contact with the earth, or in areas subject to severe corrosive influences where protected by corrosion protection and judged suitable for the condition.

    (C) Wet Locations. All supports, bolts, straps, screws, and so forth shall be of corrosion-resistant materials or protected against corrosion by corrosion-resistant materials.

    334.15 Exposed Work. (Type NM cable, just how many can go into one conduit, or how long the run of conduit can be is not specific, ask for local interpretation by inspector)

    In exposed work, except as provided in 300.11(A), cable shall be installed as specified in 334.15(A) through (C).

    (B) Protection from Physical Damage. Cable shall be protected from physical damage where necessary by rigid metal conduit, intermediate metal conduit, electrical metallic tubing, Schedule 80 PVC conduit, or other approved means.

  • Fred S
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "When I mentioned possibly running two 15-amp (or 20-amp) lines in the same conduit one told me that we would have to switch to Romex instead of THHN."

    I would guess that either you heard that backwards or he said it backwards? Either way, you are permitted to protect an NM cable with a conduit, but if running multiple circuits, you should use THHN.

    The other possibility is that he was thinking about needing a larger junction box for switching from THHN outside to NM cable inside IF there were two circuits....hard to tell.

    Much of what they are saying would not meet code is not really in thebook, but more of a local interpretation by the inspector. Give the inspector a call and ask them to swing by when they are in the area.

  • mike_kaiser_gw
    7 years ago

    Ron,

    Just a general question (for my own knowledge) related to Joey's hot tub installation which, if I'm reading everything correctly, requires two 20 amp, 120v circuits that terminate in a couple of GFCI receptacles. Can a MWBC be used with hot tubs?

  • Fred S
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    "Just a general question (for my own knowledge) related to Joey's hot tub installation" -- Joey is NOT installing a "hot tub"

    "Can a MWBC be used with hot tubs?" -- a "hot tub" is almost always connected via a two pole breaker of 30-60 amps , 240 volts between ungrounded conductors with a neutral. As it gets split up inside the hot tub for lights and filters, etc, it essentially becomes a mwbc. There is also special language in 680 specifically for "hot tubs" rated 20 amps. This should not be confused with what Joey has either, which is "VII. Hydromassage Bathtubs".

    Your entire house is on a multi wire circuit from the transformer. Don't get hung up on whether it is a feeder or a branch circuit, because they all work the same. MWBC will usually cost more in wire (if it is NM cable) and two pole breakers than two individual 20 amp circuits. Some electricians prefer to run a mwbc to a bathtub so that both circuits are purposely turned off at the same time and one isn't forgotten when servicing, but now the code is working on the placement and orientation of the receptacles at the tub to make sure both receptacles are easier accessed and more conspicuous. This should make any reason for a two pole breaker less weighted. Other than that, it depends on how the inspector wants to interpret the definition of individual branch circuit.

    680.71 Protection.

    Hydromassage bathtubs and their associated electrical components shall be on an individual branch circuit(s) and protected by a readily accessible ground-fault circuit interrupter. All 125-volt, single-phase receptacles not exceeding 30 amperes and located within 1.83 m (6 ft) measured horizontally of the inside walls of a hydromassage tub shall be protected by a ground-fault circuit interrupter.

    Branch Circuit, Individual. A branch circuit that supplies only one utilization equipment.

  • Ron Natalie
    7 years ago

    My read since he was talking about running outside that he was installing a "portable spa" which Jacuzzi is one of the major manufacturers of rather than a hydromassage tub (which Jacuzzi also makes).

    Again, the Article 680 does NOT permit EMT in the spa circuits, ANYWHERE. Period, End of Story. The conduits I listed as well as MC cable are permitted. ROMEX is not allowed because it doesn't have an insulated ground (in addition to other practical issues such as not being wet rated, rated for sunlight, etc...


  • Fred S
    7 years ago

    I am quoting the code. You are just flapping your jaw.

    IV. Spas and Hot Tubs

    680.40 General. Electrical installations at spas and hot tubs shall comply with the provisions of Part I and Part IV of this article.

    (C) Interior Wiring to Outdoor Installations. In the interior of a one-family dwelling or in the interior of another building or structure associated with a one-family dwelling, ANY OF THE WIRING METHODS recognized in Chapter 3 of this Code that contain a copper equipment grounding conductor that is insulated OR ENCLOSED WITHIN THE OUTER SHEATH of the wiring method and not smaller than 12 AWG shall be permitted to be used for the connection to motor, heating, and control loads that are part of a self-contained spa or hot tub or a packaged spa or hot tub equipment assembly. Wiring to an underwater luminaire shall comply with 680.23 or 680.33.


  • Fred S
    7 years ago

    680.42 Outdoor Installations. A spa or hot tub installed outdoors shall comply with the provisions of Parts I and II of this article, except as permitted in 680.42(A) and (B), that would otherwise apply to pools installed outdoors.


    680.21

    (2) On or Within Buildings. Where installed on or within buildings, electrical metallic tubing shall be permitted.


    (4) One-Family Dwellings. In the interior of dwelling units, or in the interior of accessory buildings associated with a dwelling unit, any of the wiring methods recognized in Chapter 3 of this Code that comply with the provisions of this section shall be permitted. Where run in a cable assembly, the equipment grounding conductor shall be permitted to be uninsulated, but it shall be enclosed within the outer sheath of the cable assembly.


    680.43 Indoor Installations. A spa or hot tub installed indoors shall comply with the provisions of Parts I and II of this article except as modified by this section and shall be connected by the wiring methods of Chapter 3. (Which include EMT and Romex)


  • Ron Natalie
    7 years ago

    I don't know why you decided to make personal attacks over this, but nothing you posted contradicts what I said. You can NOT use NM for the exterior parts of this installation. Prior to the 2011 code where what you posted is indeed correct, as I said in my first post, whether you can use NM for the interior or parts was up to interpretation. I can tell you many jurisdictions did NOT permit it.

  • Fred S
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    The only place that NM is essentially not allowed is between the exterior disconnect and the spa. You can run NM through part of the house and then sleeve the NM outside and attached to the house with EMT to get to where the main panel is located on the opposite end of the NM from the spa. Nothing you are saying is of any help to the OP, and is probably very confusing. Practically NONE of 680 applies to the OP's installation. Running a circuit or two, through or around a house, to the Hydromassage Bathtub has no special requirements. It is no different per code than running another circuit to the middle of the living room.

    680.70 General. Hydromassage bathtubs as defined in 680.2 shall comply with Part VII of this article. They shall not be required to comply with other parts of this article.

  • Fred S
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago

    Perhaps this will get to the root of the confusion between what one electrician thinks is still code compliant and one going by strict code updates that may not have been thought out completely, and ignoring local exceptions. This is just an example because I don't know where you live.

    http://www.cbs.state.or.us/bcd/programs/electrical/alternate_methods/20080725_08-03_NMB_Cable_Outdoor_Sleeves.pdf

  • Ron Natalie
    7 years ago

    Again, my comments were couched with the assumption we are not talking about a bathtub but actually a spa. I specifically clarified my comments with that before you decided to hurl baseless insults at me. If the OP could come back and explain it more precisely we could give a better read on what the requirements actually are.

  • Fred S
    7 years ago

    "Again, the Article 680 does NOT permit EMT in the spa circuits, ANYWHERE. Period, End of Story." -- Still wrong even for an outside spa or hot tub. 680.21 (A)(2)


    "ROMEX is not allowed because it doesn't have an insulated ground" -- Also wrong because of the reason, even for outside spas/hot tubs. The NEC does allow it for the inside portion of the branch circuit wiring, even for an exterior spa/ hot tub. Separate 20 amp circuits to a motor and heater are branch circuits, not feeders. Or just look at 680.42 (C)

    The only reason it is not allowed outside is that it is not rated for wet locations (300.9). Some local and state jurisdictions have exceptions to this as linked to above, but probably not for that extent of conduit.


  • mike_kaiser_gw
    7 years ago

    I read the original question, as Ron did, that we were talking about some kind of outside spa not a fancy bathtub.

    I do want to know the reasoning behind why individual wires can't be run in EMT for a traditional outdoor hot tub but MC can be used?

  • Ron Natalie
    7 years ago

    Sorry, Fred, but you cut snippets of what I said without qualification but even omitting your snippy attempts at being pedantic, you're still wrong in your "corrections." I stated before I was talking about the OUTSIDE portions of the wiring. The sheath of NM is not permitted in the exterior portions even in non-wet areas for the motor circuits. EMT is not permitted on exterior wiring (though I'll concede the "on the building" may apply to some exterior connections).

  • Fred S
    7 years ago

    "On the building" is precisely where Joey's electricians are proposing putting the conduit. That is the only thing pertinent to this conversation. The circuit is not going to a hot tub in the middle of the yard, but a bathtub on the second floor.

    In my experience, the reason EMT is not allowed between the disconnect ON the house and a hot tub in the middle of the yard is that it is only allowed on or above grade....so the electrician puts it on top of the ground, and someone trips on it and bends it. Then the homeowner buries it in 2" of dirt, etc, violating codes. Any other conduit is either stronger, or able to be buried, so EMT is just the wrong/worst choice if it can't be attached to and supported by the building.

    MC would have to be a type rated for wet locations where applicable. Probably not the same stuff you are thinking of.

  • mtvhike
    7 years ago

    I'm going to have a similar problem when I get a new hot tub/spa/Jacuzzi/etc. I plan to have a concrete pad poured say 25' from my basement door, and run an underground line through the foundation the necessary distance below grade all the way to an appropriate point under the pad (before it's poured), then bring it up through the pad to whatever electrical provisions the spa manufacturer provides/requires. I will probably use the same electrician who ran my primary power feed to the house and the same type of wire/conduit (although smaller). There is enough of the tray plastic conduit left over. Is there any problem with this?

  • labo_2000
    6 years ago

    680.25 (A) wiring methods. EMT shall be permitted where installed on or within a building, and electrical nonmetallic tubing shall permitted where installed within the building.

Sponsored Story
Pristine Acres
Pro Spotlight: Unearth a Backyard Made for Your Outdoor Lifestyle