Bathroom switches, outlet, fan and light...

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  #1  
Old 03-14-15, 06:12 PM
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Angry Bathroom switches, outlet, fan and light...

I recently moved into a house. It's about 20 years old, but majority of the house was updated including this bathroom in concern.

So the exhaust fan was working fine until yesterday, when all of a sudden it failed to turn on. My first instinct was to check the fan, but there was no excessive dust build-up and the unit looked fairly new.

So I pulled the switches and started troubleshooting.

1st problem: a three way switch was wired in for the fan switch. Not sure why, because this is the only switch that controls the fan. I shut the breaker and pulled all the wires out of this switch.

2nd problem: there is a 14-3 cable that was connected to the three way switch. Not sure why the red wire is needed.

3rd problem: the neutral wire from the 14-3 cable was connected to the 3 way switch. I put in a regular switch and I'm not sure where the neutral wire should go. I tried to bundle it with all the other neutrals, but that didn't turn the fan on.

I think I isolated the power source and I have the light working as well as the outlet, but not the fan.

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I took a few photos, which are attached. I'm going to go out and get a non-contact voltage tester tomorrow morning, but please help if you can. Let me know if you have any questions.
 
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Old 03-14-15, 06:29 PM
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Neutrals are not switched. The red can be a separately switched hot or a constant hot. Do you have a meter to determine which wire is hot? The non-contact will be of limited use as they are prone to false positives and will not tell if a neutral has been lost. An analog multimeter is better.
 
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Old 03-14-15, 06:38 PM
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I will get a multi-meter tomorrow as well. Re: the neutrals, that's what I figured too but I'm not sure why it was plugged into the three way switch and had the fan working.
 
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Old 03-14-15, 06:39 PM
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I'm always amazed at how many wires are stuffed into a box. It looks like the switch on the left is fed with the looped black wire on the screw terminal and that an additional black wire was connected to the back stab.

Are you sure that's a three way switch..... does it have a black/dark colored screw ?
 
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Old 03-14-15, 06:55 PM
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Was your old switch illuminated?
 
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Old 03-14-15, 09:11 PM
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PJMax, the switch shown on the pictures is the regular switch I put in after removing the 3-way. And yes, the 3-way had a black screw at the bottom right corner.

Handyone, no the old switch was not illuminated.

I'm so stumped...
 
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Old 03-14-15, 10:09 PM
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The three wire cable that was connected to that switch may have just been for the fan. The neutral for the fan may come from somewhere else. Is that a fan/light combo or just a fan ?

What you could try is to remove the red wire from the switch and put the white in its place and see if the fan works. If that works.... cap off the red wire.

If that doesn't work then your next step wold be to open the fan and see what's there for wiring.
 
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Old 03-15-15, 09:15 AM
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You sir, are brilliant! Tried exactly that and the fan is working as it should. Capped the red wire and put everything back together. Thank you!

And btw, the fan and light are separate units. Not a fan/light combo.
 
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Old 03-15-15, 10:12 AM
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Just curious, did you have a red wire in the fan junction box?if so that red should have been used on the switch and the white capped off,or at least the white should be reidentified with a colored tape or magic marker.
Geo
 
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Old 03-15-15, 12:34 PM
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The fan junction box did have red wire, and when I applied power to the red wire the neutral became hot as well. I think the red wire is provision for occupancy sensor. everything works the way they should now. I also replaced the wall outlet with a GFCI outlet in the washroom while I was at it.
 
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