Wiring a bathroom exhaust fan / light

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  #1  
Old 02-17-03, 04:51 PM
schong02176
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Wiring a bathroom exhaust fan / light

I just installed a bathroom ceiling fan with an integrated light. I replaced an existing outlet with a GFCI / switch combo outlet and ran into 2 problems:

1. The instructions that were included with the GFCI/switch combo showed how to wire a 2-wire light (no ground) so that it was protected by the GFCI/switch. (It never described how to wire a light with a ground.) I believe I have correctly wired the fan/light per these instructions. However, when I tie together the grounds of the incoming line and the fan/light, the GFCI trips whenever I turn on the switch. When I disconnect the ground to the fan/light (leaving the incoming line's ground tied to the GFCI/switch), the GFCI doesn't trip, and the fan/light works OK.

2. When I run the fan/light in the configuration described above (disconnected ground to the fan/light), the light (a 100 watt incandescent) is very dim and the fan doesn't sound like it's running at full tilt.

I'm not sure if these two issues are related, but would appreciate any thoughts on one or both.

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 02-17-03, 07:13 PM
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For some reason I was never very succesfull at wiring a fan via a GCFI outlet. It will generally cause the GCFI to trip at random times, generally when the swich is turned on. I had no problem using the same circuit, but using a regular outlet and a GCFI breaker.
The fan/light does not need to be GCFI protected. There should be a way to wire the fan bypassiing the GCFI outlet. The ground should play no role in the way the circuit is wired... although a GCFI will monitor the ground current also if a ground is connected.
 
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Old 02-17-03, 09:01 PM
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Sounds like you wired your fan and light in series. Can you give us more details of the wires you had, how they were formerly connected, and how they are now connected?

Because connecting the grounds causes a GFCI trip, you either have a genuine ground fault in your new appliance, or somewhere on this circuit is a bootleg ground (ground and neutral interconnected). It's possible that your new unit is damaged or faulty.
 
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Old 02-18-03, 12:42 PM
schong02176
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Thanks for the replies. I don't believe I have connected the fan and light improperly (in series) since they are integrated into a single unit, and there are just 3 bare leads coming out of the unit that I needed to wire. Can you give me some hints as to how I can check for a bootleg ground or a faulty unit, or do I need to just replace the unit to test? (This is going to be a pain for me since I've already run the vent and sealed everything up nice a tight. But, if I have to do it...)

I would like to keep the fan/light GFCI protected since it's mounted in the ceiling of my shower, and the user manual recommends GFCI protection for this type of installation.

Any other perspectives would be appreciated.
 
  #5  
Old 02-18-03, 04:20 PM
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Unscrew the light bulb and try. Tell us what happens to the fan.
 
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Old 02-18-03, 05:14 PM
schong02176
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joed - Aha. When I unscrew the light bulb, the fan doesn't work. So, that means the fan and light are wired in series, not in parallel, right?

Here's the situation:

Inside the fan/light, the fan and light both plug into standard 2-prong outlets built into the housing of the unit. Both these outlets are wired internally in the unit, and the only real hookup that I was required to make was 3 leads coming out of the housing: black, white, and green. I wired these three (via some 14 ga romex) to the GFCI on the load side per the instructions on the GFCI/switch. I did clip the bare copper wire short because it tripped the GFCI when tied to the ground of the incoming line.

The big question is, since the fan and light were essentially pre-wired to the 3 leads coming out of the housing, does the fact that they seem to be wired in series mean that the unit is defective?
 
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Old 02-19-03, 07:06 AM
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It does sound like the unit is defective. The fan and the light are definitely wired in series.
 
  #8  
Old 02-19-03, 07:33 AM
lestrician
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You said the fan and light kit plugged into 2 receptacles within the kit. Before deciding for sure that this is a bad light, try reversing your plugs. If it's like one I recently installed, that will make a difference.
 
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Old 02-19-03, 08:06 AM
schong02176
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lestrician - thanks for the suggestion. Will try that tonight. Are you suggesting that I swap plug 1 and plug 2, or flip the plugs around in the sockets (some sort of polarity thing)?
 
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Old 02-19-03, 09:05 AM
lestrician
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Swap plug one and two.
 
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Old 02-20-03, 03:59 PM
schong02176
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lestrician - swapped the two plugs this morning, but no luck. If the fan and light are indeed wired incorrectly in series, this swap shouldn't matter, right?

I guess my next step is to pull the fan/light back out and replace it.

Thanks, everyone, for the help.
 
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Old 02-20-03, 04:39 PM
texsparky
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Post

Before you go through the trouble of removing and replacing the fan,try this...

Open up the fan j-box,and check the wiring coming from the 2 receps.Make sure that they are connected all whites to whites and all black to black.This should fix your problem.
 
  #13  
Old 02-23-03, 06:46 PM
schong02176
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Thanks for the help. I pulled the fan, opened up the case, and found that the receptacles were indeed incorrectly wired. It was easier to rewire the unit than to return it, so it works like a champ now.

Thanks, everyone, for the help.
 
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