Adding another switch

Old 10-04-05, 07:45 PM
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Adding another switch

I want to wire a ceiling fan to an existing circuit in my attic that controls the attic fan via a standard switch. I guess I have a couple options, and would like your opinion and guidance on which way to proceed.

1. splice the ceiling fan feed into the line between the switch and attic fan. Then the switch should contol both the attic fan and ceiling fan at the same time. Is that as simple as cutting the wire and splicing the 3 white, 3 black and 3 grounds together in a box?

2. add a new switch using the power that is feeding the attic fan switch. Is this possible? one feed, split to two switches controling 2 different fans? Again, do I splice all the whites together in the switch box and attach the black power feed (via pigtails) to each switch? Its the whites that confuse me.

Thanks in advance for the help!!
Old 10-04-05, 07:58 PM
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There are two main ways to wire a switch. One is where power comes first to the switch box, and the other is where power comes first to the fixture. Your (1) approach will only work if you have the first situation. To find out, see if there is a white wires connected to the switch. If there is, then forget about (1).

Your (2) solution also depends on the same thing.

So the first thing to do is to shut off the breaker and see if there is a white wire connected to the switch.

By the way, I can't imagine that you'd want one switch to control both fans. That doesn't seem to make any sense.
Old 10-04-05, 08:07 PM
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Thanks John. I will check in the attic in the morning, but I believe that the switch is the feed first. If the attic fan is the first in line, then i could tap into the line before it goes to the fan, right?

The only reason I'd want both fans on the same switch would be for simplist means. The attic fan switch remains on all the time and the fan is controlled by a thermostat.

I installed the ceiling fan and put one of those remotes on it, so basically I want power to the fan at all times, and will control the lights and fan with the remote.

Ideally I'd like to install a seperate switch to control each fan independantly (option 2). Assuming the switch is the first in line, do I just splice all whites together and pigtail the black feed to each switch?
Old 10-04-05, 08:58 PM
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Let me clarify my question.

If either option will work (if power is first feed to the the switch), depending on where in the circuit i tap into.

What do I do with the 3 white wires (main, attic fan, ceiling fan) since the switch only takes the black ones? Wire nut all three together?

Does that complete the circuit and allow the switches to work independantly?

Thanks in advance. I've wired a couple subpanels and my shop and remember running into something funny with the whites and switches before, so i want to understand before I get started.
Old 10-05-05, 04:31 AM
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Whether or not you can splice into a line depends on the amount of slack in the line. You need six inches of wire from each side in the box, which means that you need about 10 to 12 inches of slack in the line to splice into it. The general instructions are that you cut the line, install a junction box and then connect all like wires together. If the box is metal it must be connected to the ground wires. Finally, you put a cover on the box.

However, if you do not have slack in the line then you will need to install two junction boxes, and run a new piece of cable between the junction boxes. A better solution in this case is to attach your new wire at either the attic fan itself, or at the switch.

Now for the suggestion. If in fact the switch is wired with power first, then connect your new wire at the switch, installing two switches. If power instead goes first to the fan then either replace the wire to the switch with 12-3 or 14-3 so you can get full power to the switch install a second switch there for your new fan, or run from the attic fan and install your own switch somewhere for your new fan.
Old 10-05-05, 07:42 AM
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Just trying to give you a simple answer:
Wire nut all the whites together.

It sounds like power is coming into the box and going to one side of the switch. You could take that wire off (after turning off power) and wirenut a couple black leads to feed power to two switches. The other side of the switches will supply power to the two fans.

It also sounds like you don't even need a switch at all. You could eliminate all the switches and wire all the blacks together and have power to both fans all the time. (They are both controlled by other means anyway).

I don't see why you couldn't tie the whites together and tie the blacks together and grounds together, each in their own wirenut, up in the attic at the box where it connects to the attic fan. Run the new added wire from the attic fan over to your ceiling fan and wirenut like colors together there also. You wouldn't have to disturb the switch or add a box or switch or anything in the wall. The switch controls both fans but that doesn't seem to be a concern anyway.
Old 10-07-05, 06:09 PM
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Thanks all!! I got it rewired and its great to have a hall light back and a fan that runs continuously.

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