Wiring bathroom fan, existing switch is wired oddly

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  #1  
Old 01-07-12, 12:23 PM
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Wiring bathroom fan, existing switch is wired oddly

I just installed a bathroom vent fan, and now I'm ready to wire it up. The problem is that I just took the cover off the existing switch (which controls the overhead lights in the bathroom) and there's only 1 piece of 3 wire romex in the box. They've got the black going to the bottom connection on the switch and the white to the top connection. I've never seen a setup like that, and a spot check of a few other outlets in the house makes me think/hope this is the only oddball.

My question is, how to proceed? Should I just leave the existing switch as-is and pull 2 new pieces of romex for the fan, or is the existing wiring unsafe? If it's the latter, how do I go about making it safe? Pull a piece of romex for a new line-in, and another piece to go to the fan?
 
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Old 01-07-12, 12:59 PM
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The existing wiring is not unsafe. It is however unsuitable for use as a source of power for your new fan. What you have is a switch loop. In a switch loop the white brings power down to the switch and the black returns the power to the fixture. There is no neutral in your switch box which is needed for a complete circuit.
 
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Old 01-07-12, 01:30 PM
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Thanks for the quick response. Good to hear that the existing wiring is OK.

That leaves me with the question of how best to proceed. Should I try to pull another piece of romex down so that I have 2 pieces in there for the fan switch, or should I wire is similar to how the existing switch is wired? Does it matter?
 
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Old 01-07-12, 01:38 PM
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You are going to need to find another source of constant power. You may be able to pull another switch loop from the fixture. You might need to change the box so you have enough room to make the connections.
 
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