Author Topic: Electrical/Wiring Question  (Read 4184 times)

c

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Electrical/Wiring Question
« on: November 01, 2012, 04:54:33 PM »
I replaced my ceiling fan with a regular light. It was (to me) fairly complicated, but I figured out which wires to cap and which to use (it did not take me two days and one panicked trip to the hardware store for advice).

Now I'm done and sufficiently recovered I'm ready to move on to the next thing.

In my bathroom I have two light switches. One that turns on the fan & vanity lights and one that turns on the Jaccuzzi tub (it came with the apartment, I'm not a coke-addled 80s throw back).  I have no use for the jaccuzzi portion of the tub and it drives me CRAZY that the fan comes on with the light, I'd like to separate them.

Can I disconnect and cap the wires for the tub, then figure out which wires are for the fan (I assume they're wound together with the light and connected to the single switch) and connect those to the old tub switch?



TheDude

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Re: Electrical/Wiring Question
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2012, 05:20:08 PM »
Hey C,  I think you need to find out were the power to the tub comes from. It can either come from the tub side or the switch side. If it comes from the switch side then its easy because those wires from the switch to the tub are no longer live. If it comes from the tub side I think you need to find where it enters the tub and disconnect it there.

I am no electrician but that's what makes the most logical sense to me.

twa2w

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Re: Electrical/Wiring Question
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2012, 05:39:20 PM »
You can certainly cap the wires for the tub pump as per what The dude said but chances are, putting the fan on the old pump switch will be more challenging.  There will be one wire running into the light/fan switch that carries the power. Then there is likely only one wire running out of the box to the light and on to the fan.  If this is the case you will have to be able to run another wire from the either the fan or the light back to the switch box.
This may prove difficult because the wiring is behind the drywall.  If you have access to the attic above then this may prove easier.

Assuming you can string the wire , then you have to ascertain if the current wire runs to the light or the fan first.  My guess is the light.
If so, you will have to go into the electrical box that the light is on and disconnect the wire that runs to the fan.  This wire will no longer be used but still should be capped if you can't remove it.
Now the light only should work via the switch - if so you can replace the light fixture on to theelectrical box.
You then have to go to the electrical box for the fan and disconect the wire that cane from the light.
The reconnect the new wire to the fan and to the second switch.
Now it is possible that the switch box has a separate wire running to the fan and the light.  If so you can disconnect the switch from the wires thta lead to the fan.  The wire should have enough slack you can run it over to and attach it to the other switch that you disconnected from the tub.  Assumes you have a doublegang box that has both switches rather than two separate boxes.
If you post a picture of the switch box with the cover removed it may prove helpful.
You may have to check your fuses or breakers as the pump for the tub may be on a fairly high amperage that you don't want the fan to be on.

This may get you started in assessing the situation.
Cheers

c

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Re: Electrical/Wiring Question
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2012, 06:06:29 PM »
Thanks for the advice.

That sounds much more complicated that I thought. The wires are behind the dry wall but given how the fan is set up (it's in the wall, not the ceiling) I can take a look, also I don't mind cutting out a bit as I honed my dry-wall patching skills over the Summer. The amperage thing worries me. Personally I'd rather not have the fan at all, but it's against code not to. The fan is from the 80s (as is the rest of the bathroom), VERY loud and not efficient at all. I might be better off just replacing it with a quieter, more efficient fan, which I need to do anyway. I wanted them on different switches as the fan doesn't always need to be on when the light is and I'd quite like to put the light on a dimmer switch (my next project is figuring this out, as the "box" in the bedroom is too small for the dimmer switch, so I'm assuming the one in the bathroom is too).

Growing up we were taught to wire a plug (in South Africa things never came with plugs and you had to wire 3 wires to them), that's the extent of my wiring experience before the fan to light conversion.

It's really hard to find people to do the small jobs here, there's so much demand as people pay contractors/professionals to do EVERYTHING, that they don't want to take your crappy, quick re-wiring jobs.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2012, 06:11:50 PM by c »

Norman Johnson

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Re: Electrical/Wiring Question
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2012, 08:07:37 PM »
It could be a nightmare. Check with the city or town you live in to see if they have updated plans so that you can actuall see how the circuit is wired. If I were you, I'd leave the tub alone and just run a new wire to the fan with a new switch of you have to have them separate. You could put a 3 gang box in if you don't mind cutting some holes and doing a patch job. Just don't kill yourself or burn the house down!

We just replaced our POS fan with a new one. The big box store had the fans rated for sound, and our new one is way quieter and pulls more air too.

paddedhat

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Re: Electrical/Wiring Question
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2012, 07:07:35 AM »
The fan might just need some TLC. to reduce the noise by a huge amount.

First, get yourself a non-contact voltage tester. These things are in the electrical tools area of Home Depot and Lowe's. They look like a big pen, and they light up and buzz when you touch a hot wire.  Not just a bare hot wire, but one with the insulated covering on, one inside of a piece of Romex, a wire in any kind of extension cord, etc...... You can even stick the tip into the hot prong of an outlet to see if it's live. I stongly prefer the latest version built by Greenlee. It's (oddly enough) green in color, and has a push button on the top. It beeps and blinks periodically to tell you that it's still on, when in use. The thing costs less than $20 bucks and there is NO excuse for attempting any electrical work without one. I was a commercial/institutional electrical supervisor, in a past life, and it is now standard policy to see any decent electrician carrying a "tic-tracer" any time they are on the clock.
OK, back to the fan. Cut the power to the fan at the circuit breaker. Take the grille off. Remove the fan motor and blade assembly. This typically requires removing one 3/8" or 7/16" nut and unpluging a very short cord. Vacuum all the fuzz and scum off of everything. Use a strong cleaner to scrub everything shiny clean. Now comes the strange part. If the motor is still good, you need to lube the center shaft. This will reduce the noise by 70-80% and the best lube to do the job is......... automatic transmission fluid.  Now I always have some on hand, but you only need a few drops. Fortunately, for most of us, there are a few drops hanging on the end of your auto trans. dipstick. So gather a few drops and wet the end of the fan shaft. Position the fan so that the lube gravity flows deep into the motor and let it sit for a few hours. Reassemble your nice clean, well lubed fan and enjoy the sweet sounds of a well maintained fan. If you fail at this mission, fear not. Take the brand and model #s off the unit, head to your local electrical supplier and order a replacement fan motor. The motor can be a bit tricky to change. Typically you remove the old one from it's bracket by removing two nuts. You then need to wrestle the fan blade off the old motor and tap it on to the new motor shaft. nothing too technical, but it may take a bit of force. Good luck. I've done this many times and it's far easier than it sounds.

 If you want more answers to your question about rearranging the switches, please post a pic. of the wiring inside the fan junction box, and the switch box. This would involve pulling both switches out of the wall and taking a picture of what is going on behind them. Remember, with the breaker off and by double checking all wiring with the new non-contact voltage tester that Mr. hat encouraged you to buy, this is as safe as working on a loaf of bread.

twa2w

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Re: Electrical/Wiring Question
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2012, 10:40:44 AM »
If the fan is in the wall rather than the ceiling. you may be able to put a switch inthe wall between the light and the fan depending on where the wiring runs and how far you want to reach to the switch - you may want to check codes for this..  The fan would then be able to be turned off or on when the light was on.  The drawback  is that it wouldn't work if the the light was off - it may be possible depending on the wiring but not likely. And likely to hard to explain how to wire this on a msge board.
To insert the switch you would have to know where the wire runs between the light and the fan.  You would have to cut the drywall to insert a box - there  are special ones made for retrofits that are relatively easy to install.
You could actually, install the fan switch below where the fan is and past the wiring the reaches from the light to the fan.  Wiring is a little trickier. but depending on setup the install may be simpler with limited or no drywall cutting other than the hole for the switch box.
Again pictures would help.
Cheers
J

paddedhat

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Re: Electrical/Wiring Question
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2012, 03:21:10 PM »
If the fan is in the wall rather than the ceiling. you may be able to put a switch inthe wall between the light and the fan depending on where the wiring runs and how far you want to reach to the switch - you may want to check codes for this..  The fan would then be able to be turned off or on when the light was on.  The drawback  is that it wouldn't work if the the light was off - it may be possible depending on the wiring but not likely. And likely to hard to explain how to wire this on a msge board.
To insert the switch you would have to know where the wire runs between the light and the fan.  You would have to cut the drywall to insert a box - there  are special ones made for retrofits that are relatively easy to install.
You could actually, install the fan switch below where the fan is and past the wiring the reaches from the light to the fan.  Wiring is a little trickier. but depending on setup the install may be simpler with limited or no drywall cutting other than the hole for the switch box.
Again pictures would help.
Cheers
J

IF the power to the fan goes directly from the switch to the fan, and does not feed through to the lights, there is a very simple solution. Simply remove the single pole switch for the fan and lights. Replace this switch with a "Duplex switch". This is a pair of switches that fit in the same space as a duplex receptacle. Then use one of these switches for the light and another for the fan. As for wiring the switch in series, as in the light needs to be on in order to switch the fan on, I don't know if it is a technical code violation, but I was always taugh to never do it, as it's a real half-assed maneuver, and leads to confusion on the part of the occupants, and the next electrician who needs to troubleshoot a problem.

c

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Re: Electrical/Wiring Question
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2012, 12:10:26 PM »
Thanks for all the advice. I did some on-line reading and I've decided to leave it alone. My place was converted in the 80s, the previous owners didn't do any upgrades and there's just too much I don't know.

I have to get someone in to do stuff I can't do myself anyway, so it won't be much more to have them do this too. The big $ here is the initial call out they all charge.

Instead I'm going to move on to another DIY project I'm not qualified for either :)