Need help wiring a replacement bathroom fan

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  #1  
Old 06-13-13, 03:30 PM
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Need help wiring a replacement bathroom fan

I am replacing a bathroom fan. The switch on the wall has three switches that were in use (one for the fan, one for the light, and one for the night light). I already took out the old fan and now when I go to install the new one, I'm confused as to how the old one was wired.

My new fan has 3 wires, one black, one green and one white. My home was built around 1970. The old fan had two conduits mapping to it. From one there is a red and a white wire. From the other there is a set of 5 white wires and 1 red. How do I wire this new fan?

Here is a photo:



Here is the outlet:



and the wiring behind it:



Here's a close up of the back conduit, it is actually two:

 

Last edited by tomagoes; 06-13-13 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 06-13-13, 03:42 PM
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We also need to see pictures of the switch pulled out. From your description some wires will not be used. Are the red and white wires from the conduit on the right your power in?
 
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Old 06-13-13, 04:38 PM
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thanks ray, switch images added
 
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Old 06-13-13, 05:16 PM
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Are you going to keep that three gang switch or replace it with a single switch ?

Do you know where the two wires in the BX (steel flex) go to ? Are they live ?
 
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Old 06-13-13, 05:37 PM
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I'm keeping the switch as is. After looking at the wires and seeing that there were 4 twist connectors that came off I'm begining to think that the 2 far right white wires on the back conduit were connected together and the two left ones.

No idea where the wires in the BX go, but I do know that the red one from the BX was connected to the fan.
 
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Old 06-13-13, 05:44 PM
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Why do you want to keep the switch? The fan you are installing use a simple on off switch. With a multimeter or test light but not a non contact tester check to see if the two wires in the BX* are hot by measuring red to white.

*If it is BX there must be a black wire we aren't seeing. That or its Greenfield.
 
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Old 06-13-13, 05:45 PM
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I see four wires on the switch. I see:
black = power to the switch
whiteish/yellow = top switch out
orange = middle switch out
white = bottom switch out.

Do you see those bottom three colors coming out of the conduit ?
If you want to use the top switch... you'll be capping off the orange and white.

Do you have a voltmeter ? We need you to check from that yellowish wire that is on the top switch to the conduit at the fan end. You should see 120 vac when switch is on.

Please let us know.
 
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Old 06-13-13, 05:58 PM
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okay, so I'm an idiot... there are not 5 white wires coming from the back conduit, only 3. The other two are coming from a conduit right next to it:

http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7407/9...5cca2d52f2.jpg

that being said, does this help us figure this out?
 

Last edited by tomagoes; 06-13-13 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 06-13-13, 07:57 PM
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You have wires coming from all different directions and they are also non standard colors.

You've now uncovered two pieces of conduit that seem to come from two different places. You will now have to get those and that piece of greenfield into a junction box.

You now have 8 individual conductors. Where they all connected before ?
Since you've opened those connections.....has anything else in the house stopped working ?

Here's my guess...... In post #7 I listed what I thougt the wiring colors were. At this point your GFI receptacle is working. You have 4 wires coming up the pipe from the switch.... Three I mentioned above and the last wire is most likely the neutral.

Based on what's not working we'll have to address those other four wires later.
 
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Old 06-13-13, 08:07 PM
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the only two wires I get any resistance reading on are the two white wires coming from the right conduit on the last picture I posted. Everything else I try I don't get resistance readings regardless of what setting I have on the multimeter.
 
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Old 06-13-13, 08:22 PM
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If you get a resistance reading on those two wires it means that there is something connected to those wires.

What you should do is put your meter into the 120 VAC reading scale. Clip your black wire to the conduit. Try your red lead to each of the wires to look for what has 120 vac on it. Try switches as you check the wires.
 
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Old 06-14-13, 01:49 PM
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Here's the non-contact test, this video is with only top switch on:

non-contact test

for just middle switch it's opposite, and just the bottom switch both those same wires have the slow beep.

I should note that on this particular non-contact tester the slow beep is 12-48 volts and the fast beep is 48-1000 volts.
 
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Old 06-14-13, 02:58 PM
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Forgive my ignorance, but if the greenfield was not wouldn't the non-contact have beeped to signify 120v?
 
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Old 06-14-13, 03:01 PM
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50-50 chance. Bottom line you can't be sure using a non contact tester. If it isn't then power must come from the switch. I have deleted my earlier answer but basically my advice remains. Remove the triplex switch and use a regular switch. Run power to one side of the switch and power out on the other. I see you have a receptacle next to the switch. I had not focused on that because of the Greenfield. Sorry if I have confused you. I certainly confused myself.

Is the receptacle next to the switch still hot?
 

Last edited by ray2047; 06-14-13 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 06-14-13, 04:01 PM
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Yes, that gfi is still hot and runs off a different breaker.
 
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Old 06-14-13, 04:58 PM
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Yes, that gfi is still hot and runs off a different breaker.
If it isn't supplying the power for the fan we are back to figuring out where it is coming from. Logic seems to indicate the Greenfield. Please check it with a multimeter and run the voltage tests that PJ requested:
What you should do is put your meter into the 120 VAC reading scale. Clip your black wire to the conduit. Try your red lead to each of the wires to look for what has 120 vac on it. Try switches as you check the wires.
 
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Old 06-15-13, 02:14 PM
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The power is coming from the switch, no voltage reading when all switches off. Once a switch is flipped, three wires that come from the 4 wire conduit get voltages, one gets a 120V on the other two of the 3 get low voltages. This is the same for all three switches, however each switch moves the 120V to a different wire.

I was able to take a look and the greenfield is running to the light over the shower. The two white wires from the back conduit appear to be running to the garage (and in the garage there is a taped off old socket, so i'll have to run test to see if this is what it goes to).

Here's a couple diagrams of how I think it it could possibly be wired:


OR


So based on above wouldn't that mean that when the top switch is on, the 120V wire would be the the neutral from load 1 (which would be the main light)?
 

Last edited by tomagoes; 06-15-13 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 06-15-13, 03:11 PM
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Throw that Depard switch in your junk drawer and use a regular switch. The fan you have only uses one switch.
I can't throw that switch out, it doesn't just control the fan but also the light over the shower and the light over the vanity.

I did the voltage tests. No wire has 120V on it when all switches are off. When all of the switches are one, 3 of the wires from the conduit w/ 4 all have 120V. When only one of the switches is on, one of those 3 has 120V and the other 2 of the 3 have low voltage readings.
 
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Old 06-15-13, 03:23 PM
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Sorry I missed that. Wish you had reminded me earlier. I really don't know how to help you. Sorry. The wiring looks like it's for a three function exhaust fan. It does not look like the wiring I would expect for three different devices. Were only two of those wires connected to the exhaust fan and the others to each other?
 
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Old 06-16-13, 12:00 AM
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I wish I could remember, but I do know that 4 twist caps came off when I removed the old one... IDK if that helps or not.
 
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Old 06-16-13, 09:12 AM
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There are questions to be answered that are almost to complex for a forum because of what you have. It will requires multiple actions that may result in more actions based on what the preceding action seems to indicate.

First problem is there has to be two wires one white one some other color that bring power from the breaker box to the three devices on the switches. With cable this is predictable. It will be a cable with a black and white wire. With conduit assuming the whole house is wired with conduit it is not that predictable and harder to find*. Question: Is the whole house wired with conduit?

Next we need to know how all the fixtures are switched. Are they on switch loops or does power come into the switch box first or is there a second junction box between the fixture and the switch. If so where is that junction box. It appears there is and it is the fan but that is very odd unless you removed a junction box such as a four inch octagon box in addition to the fan. Question: Was there a junction box other than the fan's built-in junction box that was removed?

Other questions would need to be answered as these are answered. Simplest would be to hire an electrician but if you want to continue we can but it won't be a fast process.

*Your voltage readings were a start, an attempt to find the power source but proved to be to ambiguous to help at this time.
 
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Old 06-16-13, 02:17 PM
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Yes, the whole house is done in conduit with a few greenfield here and there.

There was not a junction box other than the fan's that I removed, however that does not mean there wasn't one before that a previous owner removed.

I'm almost thinking that since it's conduit I might be better off just rewiring all of this so it's standard, instead of the mess that it is. Either that or call an electrician to sort this out. In any case, I have plenty of other things to accomplish other than getting this fan in, so I'm not in a tremendous hurry to get this done just yet.

I did take another look behind the switch to try to help me figure this out and found a black hot wire that feeds the switch, and a white that goes straight through the switch box and up the conduit with the other switch wires, so I'm almost positive that is my neutral... question remains as to which one that is.

Since the conduit with 4 wires (3 white, 1 red) has 3 wires (2 white 1 red) with 120 when all the switched turned on, would that mean the last white with no voltage is the neutral?
 
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Old 06-16-13, 04:09 PM
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First some questions: Are the light and night lite mentioned in your first post no longer working? Was/is the nightlight separate from the fan that was removed? Is there a third fixture also not working?

I did take another look behind the switch to try to help me figure this out and found a black hot wire that feeds the switch
Excellent. So we know there is no unswitched hot at the fan.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 06-16-13 at 05:54 PM.
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Old 06-16-13, 04:35 PM
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I'm getting sort of dizzy reading this.

We've established you have four wires from the switch junction box to the ceiling junction box thru conduit.

Three of those wires are switched hot. Top, middle and lower switch. Turning on one at a time......mark that wire at the box. Use a piece of tape with a number on it or use a sharpie marker and color it. Make it easy to know which wire is which switch. When you're done.... the one that's left is neutral. That neutral will be shared

I can't throw that switch out, it doesn't just control the fan but also the light over the shower and the light over the vanity.
Why wasn't that made clear at the beginning ? Several people have asked (myself included) why not change to a single pole switch.

You've told us that the one greenfield is the shower light.....that's good.
Where is the vanity light wiring if one of those switches is controlling the vanity now ?
 
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Old 06-16-13, 04:54 PM
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Are you sure those two white wires go to the garage ? Maybe those go to the vanity ?
 
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Old 07-07-13, 08:06 PM
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I was finally able to get into the attic and figure everything out. The wires I thought were going to the garage did indeed goto the vanity. I pulled down the vanity light and the shower light and ran resistance tests over the wires to figure out which was connected to the hot and which neutral.

In the bundle of 4 wires, there were 3 switched hot and a neutral (marked all with color-coded tape). These all matched up to the vanity hot and neutral and the shower hot and neutral.

I appreciate all the help!
 
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Old 07-08-13, 06:38 AM
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Thanks for letting us know you got it and how you figured it out,
 
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