Help if you can!

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Old 02-01-14, 02:49 PM
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Help if you can!

Okay, I have the EXACT same problem. Two cables, four wires going to my bathroom fan.

Separated from Help! 4 wires for a bathroom ceiling fan.

As Forest Gump would say, I am not a smart man... I took the old one out and didn't pay attention to the wiring. I figured it was a simple wiring set up, to a switch. Wrong.

When I took the old one out there were three sets of wires connected with wire nuts. I did not note them, thus I am here....

Here is what I have.

Two sets of wires coming out of the ceiling.
One set (Balck and White) are hot when I turn the breaker on.
The second set is not hot.

Including the fan itself, I have SIX wires to connect.

Can someone tell me the connection order?

Hot Black goes to ???
Hot Neutral goes to ???

Not hot Black goes to ???
Not hot Neutral goes to ???

Fan Black connects to ???
Fan Neutral connects to ???
 
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Old 02-01-14, 03:08 PM
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OK Forrest, easy. You have one cable with power, and probably one going to a wall switch. If this is correct, then you have a switch loop. Hot black to white of switch loop. Black from switch loop to fan hot (black). White from power cable to white on fan. Tell us if you have a light fixture or not on the fan.

Oh, welcome to the forums!
 
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Old 02-01-14, 03:12 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

I've moved your question to a new thread to avoid confusing the answers.

Two sets of wires coming out of the ceiling.
One set (Balck and White) are hot when I turn the breaker on.
It sounds like you have a switch loop controlling the power for your fan. Your answers to three questions will help us nail that down:
  1. How did you determine that one of the cables is carrying unswitched power and the other isn't? Did you use a meter to test for 120V hot-to-ground and hot-to-neutral on each cable?
  2. Does the white wire in the cable w/o power have a black or or red (or any color except gray or green) tag or mark on it?
  3. What wires are connected to the switch that controls the fan? Are they the black and the white wire from one 2-conductor cable?
 
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Old 02-01-14, 03:46 PM
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Answers to questions:
1- I made sure all wires were clear of each other and turned on the breaker. One set of wires (b&W) were hot. The other set was not. I assume the set that was not hot is the switched sets of wires.
2- This house was built by morons. I doubt they knew enough to color code the wires. There are no marks on them.
3- The wires connected to the switch are a black and white.

I think I figured it out now that I see the wires to the switch. Please confirm my assumption.

When the breaker is on I have a hot set (b&w in one sheath).
I also have a set that is dead, which I assume goes to the switch.

What I need to do is connect the HOT black to the dormant White.
Connect the Black from the fan to the dormant black.
Connect the White from the fan to the HOT white.

That closes the loop, controlled by the switch, correct?
 
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Old 02-01-14, 04:20 PM
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Yes, go for it and let us know how it goes.
 
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Old 02-01-14, 04:25 PM
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What I need to do is connect the HOT black to the dormant White.
Connect the Black from the fan to the dormant black.
Connect the White from the fan to the HOT white.

That closes the loop, controlled by the switch, correct?
Yes, that sounds like the way to do it.

Answers to questions:
2- This house was built by morons. I doubt they knew enough to color code the wires. There are no marks on them.
So you could correct that while you have everything open, right? All you need to do is color about 1" of the white wire running between the fan and the switch with some electrical tape or a permanent marker, to show that it's being used to carry ungrounded potential (aka hot power).

That would help avoid confusion in the future and increase safety. In doing that, it will also satisfy a code requirement.
 
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Old 02-01-14, 04:47 PM
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Aha!

Yes, that worked perfectly! And yes, I did color the switch wires to avoid any confusion in the future.

Now that I understand the wiring up there, it's really simple. What I don't understand is why they did it that way? Why not just wire it like you would any stand alone appliance with a switch?

The ONLY reason I can think of as to why they did this, was to save wire. But it doesn't. Apparently the HOT comes from an outlet about 7-8' away on the wall. The wiring still needed to be run to the switch, about 8-10' away. Not much of a savings.

I guess they wired the outlets hot and then drew hot from them and then looped the switches... Okay. I'm no electrician, but.....
 
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Old 02-01-14, 04:55 PM
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Many thanks guys!

I forgot to thank you for your assistance. I appreciate it.

Here's my tip for all of you.

Don't put your Christmas lights on a GFCI, if it rains your lights will go out.

I've done Christmas light for over 20 years at this house, never a problem. Thinking I was being smart, I plugged them in to a GFCI this year... NOPE, NOPE, NOPE!

Note: The GFCI runs my fish pond pump. Never a problem with pump only. At least I know it works and I can dive into the pond for cleaning etc without worry of being fried!
 
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Old 02-01-14, 04:59 PM
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Don't put your Christmas lights on a GFCI, if it rains your lights will go out.

I've done Christmas light for over 20 years at this house, never a problem. Thinking I was being smart, I plugged them in to a GFCI this year... NOPE, NOPE, NOPE!
To the contrary, I think you are being smart. Think about it: Rain, Lights, electricity? Not the best combo. Sure the lights turn off, but better the Christmas lights, then yours.
 
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Old 02-01-14, 05:22 PM
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Glad you got it and thanks for letting us know how it worked out.

What I don't understand is why they did it that way? Why not just wire it like you would any stand alone appliance with a switch?
Sometimes we don't understand the wiring we find when we get to service call either. If the fan is between the switch and the receptacle they might have saved a good bit of wire. Some folks really value doing that.

BTW: The receptacle is a GFCI device, right? And the power for the fan comes from the LINE terminals on it? And the circuit is only serving loads in this bathroom?
 
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Old 02-01-14, 05:25 PM
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Don't put your Christmas lights on a GFCI, if it rains your lights will go out.

I've done Christmas light for over 20 years at this house, never a problem. Thinking I was being smart, I plugged them in to a GFCI this year... NOPE, NOPE, NOPE!

Note: The GFCI runs my fish pond pump. Never a problem with pump only. At least I know it works and I can dive into the pond for cleaning etc without worry of being fried!
What kind of cover does that GFCI have on it?
 
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Old 02-01-14, 06:53 PM
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Hey Chandler!!



Did you get any snow down your way?
 
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Old 02-02-14, 04:32 AM
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4", but we are north of Atlanta, and our rush hour lasts 5 minutes on average, so no traffic mess. We know when to stay home.

I Like Lumber, glad it worked out for you. Thanks for the followup.
 
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Old 02-02-14, 05:10 AM
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Every " roper " wires residential a little differently .

When you use Romex , you are stuck with the color of wires inside the cable . Code requires , as in your instance , you connect the hot / black , from the breaker , to the white going to the switch .

True , it might be easier if you put colored tape on the white wire , but hopefully the guy that installed it knows what he is doing . He is honestly not much interested in what a home owner does or does not do , some time in the future . That is just a fact of life .

The reason the hot is tied to the white going to the switch is , so the black coming back from the switch can be tied to the black going to the light , fan , etc. .

In this installation , when an electrician sees the black tied to the white , he / she knows exactly what is what .

Suggestion , next time you do something like this , do not take the wirenuts off when you remove the old device . With power off , clip the factory wires of the old device , and leave a few inches remaining on the wirenuts . That way , you know where the new device wires connect .

What would you have done if you had 3 - 4 Romex cables coming into the box ? Would you have ever figured it out ? Not trying to make fun of you . Just trying to illustrate that , next time , look ( and plan ahead ) before you leap .

God bless
Wyr
 
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Old 02-02-14, 10:57 AM
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Not thin skinned here. Yes, I should have noted the wiring before I took it all apart. And your idea of just clipping the device wires makes perfect sense.
 
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Old 02-02-14, 11:00 AM
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Snow? Yes. And here's my story... I work from home, a 30 second commute from the bedroom to my office. On the snow day, I had a vendor screw up deliveries to two places, they were switched. I had to venture out to swap them. I left the house at 11 am, got home at 1 am.... f me.

I never venture more than 5-10 miles from my house, except on THAT day.... oh well.
 
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Old 02-02-14, 12:36 PM
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4", but we are north of Atlanta
Heck, that's not bad, just a PIA.

Snow? Yes. And here's my story... I work from home, a 30 second commute from the bedroom to my office. On the snow day, I had a vendor screw up deliveries to two places, they were switched. I had to venture out to swap them. I left the house at 11 am, got home at 1 am....
You must have had a lot more than Chandler's area.
 
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Old 02-02-14, 01:26 PM
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Normally, this area just shuts down on ice/snow days. No investment in snow removal equipment for that once in 3 years storm. Not economically feasible. This time every lemming in the city was waiting on the "government" to tell them to go home. Word went out at 1pm and 5 million people ran for the interstates. You gotta know when to hold 'em, on your own.
 
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Old 02-02-14, 03:45 PM
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No investment in snow removal equipment for that once in 3 years storm.
Then things haven't changed. Many years ago I travelled from the Augusta area to Atlanta in early February with 8 inches of new snow, the interstates were being patrolled by the National Guard to help those stranded. It took 8 hours to get to Atlanta.
 
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