Bathroom exhaust fan install questions

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Old 03-15-13, 08:32 AM
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Bathroom exhaust fan install questions

I have a few questions I regards to installing a bathroom exhaust fan

I always buy American made products, so this has made it a little more of a challenge but still learning some good things

First , I was going to install a gfci breaker but saw that each of my breakers is smaller then and inch, and the 15-20 amp breakers are an inch or bigger

The reason I was going this route is that in our bathroom the switch for the light that I will be changing out has a switch and an outlet. I have not been able to find a gfci outlet switch combo, not sure if they are even made?

not sure where to go, I don't have much electrical experience besides the basics, and can't afford to have someone and wire unless its absolutely necessary

thanks for the help
 
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Old 03-15-13, 08:40 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

The pic below is a switch/GFI receptacle combo.
It is a Leviton Smart Lock Pro 7299-NI

Any big home center should have it.
Leviton SmartLockPro 15 Amp Combination Duplex GFCI

If you still would like to persue the GFI breaker method. Leave us the make of the panel. Some panels use standard size and 1/2 size breakers.
 
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Old 03-15-13, 08:44 AM
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For some reason our local lowes and hd didn't have them, I thought they should exist, but must have had some brain fade, I will look up the make of the panel
 
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Old 03-15-13, 09:10 AM
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Does this exhaust fan have a light also? Usually it is best to put the fan and light on separate switches. That can be done with a duplex switch. Unless the exhaust fan is within the foot print of the bathtub it does not need to be GFCI.

My suggestion would be to remove the existing single gang box and replace with a double gang box. That way you can have two switches in half the box and a duplex GFCI receptacle in the other half of the box.

To do the above you would need to replace the cable to the light.
 
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Old 03-15-13, 09:52 AM
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I have only seen full size GFI breakers. It might be possible to switch some of the circuits around to make room. You might need to move a circuit from a full size to a tandem and move the bathroom to the full size breaker.
 
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Old 03-15-13, 10:25 AM
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And the one reason I was looking at gfci breaker was bc the the gfci combo switches were all made in China, or somewhere over seas
 
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Old 03-15-13, 10:37 AM
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It does have a light,it actually has a light and a night light, and wiring from the 50s, which I think is aluminum wiring, how can I be sure it is?

One big problem in the bathroom is the whole room has beadboard floor to ceiling with tile behind it, bought the house from someone who flipped it, so needless to say not sure how about redoing the wiring or adding
 
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Old 03-15-13, 11:03 AM
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Wiring from the 50s will not be aluminum. You may have tinned copper. Aluminum wiring all had plastic insulation AFAIK.
 
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Old 03-15-13, 12:08 PM
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Good to know, the insulation is silver and almost looks like some kind of braded sheathing
 
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Old 03-15-13, 12:40 PM
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the insulation is silver and almost looks like some kind of braded sheathing
Probably older 60 NM cable. May or may not have a ground. Ground if present may be fastened to the outside of the box.
 
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Old 03-15-13, 02:00 PM
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Braided insulation means it is most likely tinned copper. Look at a cut end for the copper color.
 
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Old 03-15-13, 05:02 PM
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When pulling then rewiring what should I be using? Was looking at a few local places a wasn't sure what is the best?
 
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Old 03-15-13, 05:18 PM
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You would use NM-b (AKA Romex) for new wiring. The catch is if the existing cable is ungrounded by code it can't be extended. You can only change out fixtures and devices. If you have an unfinished attic above I would suggest runnimg new cable from the breaker box.

One big problem in the bathroom is the whole room has beadboard floor to ceiling with tile behind it,
Not really a problem. Wire can be fished without disturbing the walls usually.
 
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Old 03-15-13, 05:47 PM
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And the one reason I was looking at gfci breaker was bc the the gfci combo switches were all made in China, or somewhere over seas
I think you'll find that GFCI breakers and standard wall switches are also made overseas. Welcome to the global economy and the US tax code.

It does have a light,it actually has a light and a night light,
How are you planning to control the light, fan and night light separately?

wiring from the 50s, which I think is aluminum wiring, how can I be sure it is?
Scrape it with a knife blade to see if you expose copper.

One big problem in the bathroom is the whole room has beadboard floor to ceiling with tile behind it, bought the house from someone who flipped it, so needless to say not sure how about redoing the wiring or adding
Is there a basement below this bathroom? More importantly, is there an attic above it?
 
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Old 03-15-13, 06:04 PM
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Thankfully it's a split level with unfinished attic above, and was planning on running fresh from the panel

i was worried about adding a second box for the outlets and having a problem with structure in the wall, like I said I've never really done much eletrical

i have found switches by leviton and a bunch of other brands of switches made in USA, and GE industrial 15 and 20 amp gfci breakers Made in USA, so that's not a problem, problem is my huge lack of skill hahaha

Im not sure how I was going to wire the light, night light and fan separately

i was thinking of wiring the light and fan together as they would/should be used together?
 
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Old 03-15-13, 06:44 PM
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I would remove the existing switch box and enlarge the opening for a double gang box. Doing that will make it easy to fish wire from above. You would use a triplex switch and a duplex GFCI receptacle. Into the box you would run a 12-2 NM-b coming from the breaker box and either a 12-4 NM-b or ENT with one neutral, three hots and a ground going to the new exhaust fan. 12-4 can be hard to find which is why I am suggesting ENT and separate wires.

There are other combinations you could use but this would keep the number of wires to a minimum at the exhaust fan which is important because the connection box is usually small. You could tie the fan and main light together to reduce the number of wires but you will probably find times when you want light but no fan. You could also just not use the night light to reduce the number of wires.

The only difficulty might be fire stops but they are rare in a house as new as yours (circa '50s).
 
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Old 03-15-13, 10:23 PM
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i was worried about adding a second box for the outlets and having a problem with structure in the wall, like I said I've never really done much eletrical
Done properly, adding electrical boxes to a wall won't weaken it.

I would replace the single switch box you have now with either one 4-gang old work box or a 3-gang box for the controls and a single-gang box for the receptacle. Assuming that there are not more switches needed (is there a light over the vanity or the shower?), having a full space for each switch will allow you to install a progressive timer - 10 mins., 20 mins., etc. - for the exhaust fan so you could set it and leave. You could also install a time-of-day timer for the night light, if you wanted to. None of this is doable, AFAIK, with a duplex or triplex switch.
 
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Old 03-16-13, 06:56 AM
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Nash pointed out:
None of this [extra functions] is doable, AFAIK, with a duplex or triplex switch.
Good catch, Nash. A very good point. Use of duplex or triplex switches limit possible functions in a double gang box andit also makes wiring difficult because of limited space. Was just giving you basics but Nash's idea is much better.

Also you need to decide if the receptacle and switch are best in the same location. The switches are best by the door and receptacle by the vanity. This is a good time to do that.
 
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Old 03-17-13, 10:07 AM
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There is a light over the vanity, currently ther are two switch outlet combos and that's it for the entire bathroom. I wasn't planning on putting a timer, but might not be a bad idea
 
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Old 03-17-13, 09:41 PM
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There is a light over the vanity, currently ther are two switch outlet combos and that's it for the entire bathroom. I wasn't planning on putting a timer, but might not be a bad idea
Then you'll need four switches total unless you want both the overhead light and the vanity light to be controlled together. Any of these can be motion sensors, timers, or ordinary switches.

I like to install at least one duplex receptacle on each side of a bathroom vanity. You can install GFCI receptacle in one location and use it to provide GFCI protection to the others
 
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Old 03-28-13, 08:50 AM
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I have decided to use a 4 gang box and not hook up the night light

I would like to add another receptacle but not sure how I would go about tackling that.

Also would there be any benefit to using a heavier gauge wire? Is their a heavier gauge wire that could be used? I always like to upgrade whenever possible and have done auto wiring before and using a heavier gauge wire results unless current drop, and I am an efficiency freak as well.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 09:19 AM
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There is always heavier gauge wire but on distances less then 100 feet there is no advantage and you just make the job harder. Use #14 on 15 amp breakers and #12 on 20 amp breakers.

What exactly is the problem you foresee with adding a receptacle? There should be room for another cable in a four gang box.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 09:21 AM
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I have decided to use a 4 gang box and not hook up the night light
Four switches will control the vanity light, overhead light, night light and fan. If you're not going to power the night light, why do you need the fourth space?

I would like to add another receptacle but not sure how I would go about tackling that.
You have attic access above and you're planning to run new cable from the panel. Cut an opening for an old-work box where you want the receptacle, measure to the center of that opening from a reference you will be able to see in the attic, like an outside wall, measure from that in the attic and drill a hole centered in the top plate of the wall above the opening for the box. Drop a cable down, pull it out, strip the jacket, insert/clamp it in the box and mount the box.

Also would there be any benefit to using a heavier gauge wire? Is their a heavier gauge wire that could be used? I always like to upgrade whenever possible and have done auto wiring before and using a heavier gauge wire results unless current drop, and I am an efficiency freak as well.
Residential AC power does not work like automotive DC power. That said, the new circuit for this bathroom needs to be a 20A circuit run with 12-2/G cable, and only serve the bathroom.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 10:59 AM
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I was planning on installing a switch for the vanity, fan, light and add a gfci outlet or is that not ok?

With the new outlet I had a plan on how to add it and you stated exactly what I was thinking as to how to install it

Good to know about the wire gauge, I was thinking thicker wire is much harder to direct and work with.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 11:26 AM
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I was thinking thicker wire is much harder to direct and work with.
Yes, that is correct.

I was planning on installing a switch for the vanity, fan, light and add a gfci outlet or is that not ok?
Yes, that is okay so long as you have a power source with a neutral in the box.
 
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Old 03-28-13, 02:08 PM
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I was planning on installing a switch for the vanity, fan, light and add a gfci outlet or is that not ok?
That's fine. I prefer to have the receptacles separate from the switches so they're handier and you don't push and pull on the switch box when you plug and unplug things. But they're often mounted in the same box and, if you'd prefer it that way, then do it, by all means.
 
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Old 04-15-13, 09:43 AM
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Again sorry for the amateur response, but when you say a power source with a neutral wire, not exactly sure what you mean?

Also i will say i have zero preference at this point haha, i was basically thinking that right now i only have one box in the bathroom i would just use it, but if its not a good idea, then by all means i should switch it and add an outlet
 
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Old 04-15-13, 10:11 AM
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when you say a power source with a neutral wire, not exactly sure what you mean?
While all neutrals are white (or gray) not all whites are neutrals. Just because you have a cable with a black and white wire does not mean you can tap that cable for 120 volts. If the white wire is not a neutral but a second hot such as in a switch loop cable you can not use it for power because there is no neutral to provide 120 volts.
 
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Old 04-16-13, 03:09 PM
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when you say a power source with a neutral wire, not exactly sure what you mean?
How many black wires and how many white wires do you have in the switch box?
 
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Old 07-16-13, 11:28 AM
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Also wanted to ask what is the best way to vent the fan? Through the soffit or roof?
 
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Old 07-16-13, 01:05 PM
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Through the roof. Venting through the soffit just invites the moist air back into the attic.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 07-17-13 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 07-16-13, 08:32 PM
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Ok, that's exactly what I was thinking
 
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