Wiring a light/fan switch in the same box with a GFCI?

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  #1  
Old 11-10-11, 08:29 PM
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Wiring a light/fan switch in the same box with a GFCI?

I've spent way too long searching and experimenting with no luck, so I was hoping one of you could offer some help!

Here's the situation: I have a switch and outlet in the same box in my bathroom. For some reason, the light/fan combo (same switch) went out. I pulled it apart thinking the switch went bad and used that switch in another location and it worked. without thinking, I didn't mark the wires and now I have a fully disassembles box and can't figure out how to piece it all back together. I'm working with 2 black wires, 2 white, and one red. When the two white wires are connected together, all the lights in that section of the house work. I pull them apart and none of them work. Can anyone help me out as to how to get this back to the original setup? I put an image together to give a better idea of what I'm working with:



The only configuration I have come up with that resembles anything where the oulet is getting power (since the green light comes on) is shown. I can connect either black wire (or both) to that bottom screw and the green light comes on, but no power to anything that I plug into it. If I switch the white wires (bottom to the top screw, and top to the bottom screw) I get no green light no matter which screw I attach the black ones to.

I feel like I've tried all combos. Thanks so much for any help you can give!
 
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Old 11-10-11, 09:00 PM
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1. You should take pictures of the wires and label them before disconnecting. And if replacing the switch, just disconnect the switch wires. But I think you know that now.

2. I would suggest you call an electrician. He could safely test those wires and would have the proper test equipment to find out what is what (multimeter). And may need to work with live electricity to do some testing, not a DIY thing. And because it is a simple problem, should not cost too much.

Be sure to tell him the fan or light stopped working and what all you did.
 
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Old 11-10-11, 09:04 PM
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I am going to assume that the outlet you are trying to wire back in as a GFCI, if so, you are wiring it incorrectly. A GFCI has two sides to the outlet, the line side and the load side. What you need to do is connect the black and white from the cable that has power to the screws on the line side. The black to the bronze and the white to the silver. You then connect the black and white wires from the second cable that supplies lights/outlets downstream to the load side. Again the black to the bronze and the white to the silver.

When connected this way all items that are downstream on this circuit will be GFCI protected. If you don't want anything downstream GFCI protected that you would connect both blacks to the line side bronze screw and the two whites to the silver screw. You can't place multiple wires under a single screw so if the receptacle only contains a single silver and bronze screw on the line side you will need to add a pig tail to each set of wires and connect the pig tail to the proper screws on the GFCI.
 
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Old 11-10-11, 09:29 PM
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I understand what you're saying here, but that configuration doesn't include the switch that goes to the light/fan. How do I include the switch and where does the red wire go?

Thing is, there was no pig tail to begin with. All the wires shown in the picture are all the ones that were originally there before I took it apart. These 5 wires were the only ones in the box, and both the GFCI and switch have worked for years using them.
 
  #5  
Old 11-10-11, 09:41 PM
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Ok, it sounds like you have a switch loop for the light/fan and separate power for the outlet. It sounds like you have two cables, one with 3 wires (red, black, white) and a second cable with 2 wires (black, white).

Can you gain access to the wiring in the light/fan box? If we can determine what wires are connected to the fan/light we might be able to figure out what should go were in the switch/outlet.

Also, do you have a multimeter so we can check voltage on the wires in the switch/outlet box?
 
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Old 11-10-11, 10:00 PM
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I wasn't able to get to the wires in the light/fan box because the unit is sealed in place, but the switch also operates a different wall mounted vanity light (which I completely forgot to mention) and that light has a total of 4 white wires capped and connected to the white wire of the light and a single red is connected to the black wire of the light.

Does this tell you anything?

I would have to pick up a multimeter on my way home from work.
 
  #7  
Old 11-11-11, 06:05 AM
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Cables

The 3-wire cable (the one having the red wire) could have been installed to provide separate switching capability to the fan and the light. If two switches are not available then the red and black going to the ceiling should be pigtailed to the downstream side of the switch. Just my 2 cents.
 
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