Help! Weird light switch wiring in old condo


Old 03-10-14, 11:33 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1
Help! Weird light switch wiring in old condo


I'm wrapping up a bathroom remodel, and came across a very weird wiring arrangement in the light switch, which I'm trying to replace/upgrade. Some background info:

There were two switches in the wall plate -- Switch A (left) controls both the light fixture in the room, as well as an overhead ventilation unit. Switch B (right) is and always has been useless. I had assumed it was unwired, but as you'll see below it's connected to something...

I had hoped to keep the light fixture on Switch A, and move the ventilation unit over to Switch B, such that they could be controlled independently. I'd still love to do this if possible.

Upon opening the wall plate, Here's what I've found:
  • Switch A is wired to one orange and one black wire.
  • Switch B interrupts a red wire -- no idea what this leads to, as there are no other electrical components in the bathroom, nor are there any outlets/devices unaccounted for elsewhere.
  • There is a brownish/tan wire that is routed into and out of the junction box, but is not connected to any switch.
  • As far as I can tell, there is no bare copper / ground wire anywhere.
  • Residence is 1964 construction, Southern California, if that helps at all.

Here's a picture, with Switch B removed for ease of visual inspection:

I've purchased a Legrand Adorne paddle switch and mounting plate (adorne® Decorative & Custom Wall Plate Designs | by Legrand | by Legrand) to replace this plate/switch, but it requires that the metal mounting plate be grounded. Given the weird wiring, I wasn't comfortable playing the guessing game trying to figure out what wires were doing what.

Any thoughts?
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Old 03-10-14, 11:58 AM
Justin Smith's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: Cressona, Pa, USA
Posts: 2,546
Which conduit is incoming and outgoing? Where does the conduit terminate?

The tan wire is your neutral, it is discolored.

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