Replacing switches to 4-function bath exhaust/heater/lights

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Old 02-14-16, 03:07 PM
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Question Replacing switches to 4-function bath exhaust/heater/lights

Hello - thanks for checking out my issue. I've reached the limit of my knowledge and am ready to call in an expert but figured I'd see what the experts here would recommend. I'm definitely not an expert but do feel that I have a solid grasp of the caution and care that needs to be taken while doing any electrical work.

I purchased an older 1950s/60s-era home a few years ago and I have wanted to change the switches that control a Nutone 9093WH multi-function bathroom exhaust/heater/light/night-light. My goal is to put the exhaust on a spring-wound mechanical countdown timer and the other three functions on a single-gang 3-function switch.

I cut the power at the circuit breaker and then double-checked that there was no power coming into this switch box. I unwired the existing switches paying attention to how it was wired. Then I wired the new switches in the manner that I thought was appropriate based on the instructions. When I turned-on the breaker the unit made a very loud buzzing sound that I could hear from quite far away at the breaker-box.

At that point I thought that I had not correctly identified the hot line leading from the panel to the box so I unwired everything and then had all the lines nutted-off and I was going to test to see which was hot. So at this point nothing is connected and the wires are all separate with a nut covering the exposed copper. When I flip the circuit breaker something makes that same sound. As best as I can tell there is nothing else on this circuit to make any noise so I am confused as to how something is being energized with all the wires disconnected from the switches.

I'll provide some pics as well as the rough wiring diagram I've drawn showing how the wires were originally when it was functioning, and how I had wired-in the new switches. Any advice is welcome - barring something obvious that I'm missing i will call in a professional to sort it out.

Some links in case they are helpful:

Nutone installation with wiring diagram:
http://www.nutone.com/common/product...3-ecf32f0c25b3

Timer instructions:
http://www.intermatic.com/~/media/in...structions.pdf

Combination Switch:
Pass & Seymour TradeMaster Decorator Combination Switch, White
TM8111WCC

TradeMaster Decorator Combination Switch, White, TM8111WCC | by Legrand

http://www.legrand.us/~/media/produc...er/340819.ashx


Thanks,
David
 
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Old 02-14-16, 03:30 PM
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I thought that I had not correctly identified the hot line leading from the panel to the box so I unwired everything and then had all the lines nutted-off and I was going to test to see which was hot.
It sounds like you intend to use a non contact tester. A non contact tester will NOT tell you which wire is hot. You must use multimeter (or neon test light or solenoid tester) to measure from each wire to the group of neutrals. It is very likely the hot will be from a 2-conductor cable so test 2-conductor cables first. If there is only one two conductor cable that is likely power in.

When I flip the circuit breaker something makes that same sound.
Is the breaker loose? If not do you get the sound when you disconnect the wire from the breaker.
 
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Old 02-14-16, 06:16 PM
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Ray, thanks for the information. You are correct, I have been using a non-contact (proximity) tester. I do have a multi-meter but wasn't confident in using it.

Are you able to explain how a proximity meter allow me to "see" voltage in a lamp cord when it's switched off, but it wouldn't allow me to see voltage in a capped-off hot wire?

The breaker isn't loose and I only get the sound when I close the circuit at the panel. Is it possible that the line goes straight from the panel to the junction box in the Nutone device?

Thanks again.
 
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Old 02-14-16, 06:28 PM
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Are you able to explain how a proximity meter allow me to "see" voltage in a lamp cord when it's switched off, but it wouldn't allow me to see voltage in a capped-off hot wire?
It doesn't actually measure voltage. it detects an electromagnetic field. That field can be caused by things other that significant voltage such as induced or capacitive voltages. For the same reason we do not recommend digital multimeter. The cheap ones can have the same problems. However a $8-$15 analog multimeter because of its low impedance is much more resistant to false readings and best for this purpose.
I only get the sound when I close the circuit at the panel.
But do you get it when you disconnect the wire from the breaker and turn the breaker on?
 
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Old 02-15-16, 10:38 AM
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It doesn't actually measure voltage. it detects an electromagnetic field.
Thanks for explaining this - that is helpful.

But do you get it when you disconnect the wire from the breaker and turn the breaker on?
I am not sure I know exactly what you mean. Are you saying disconnect the circuit from the breaker in the box? Unfortunately I do not think that I skilled-enough and comfortable to be messing around with that. It is probably time to call in a professional. Thanks for your help and advice.
 
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