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Rick
Rick, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 452
Experience:  10 yrs as a electrician. Have my own company.
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Hello. I have a fan installed and a seperate light installed

Resolved Question:

Hello. I have a fan installed and a seperate light installed running on one double switch. There are 2 romex wires (2 black, 2 white, and 2 ground) going to the double switches. I am trying to install a fan/light combo. How would I go about doing this? Is it normal to have 2 seperate romex wires coming down to the double switch? On the double switch, I have one black wire coming in to the top screw on the left and one white wire coming in to the bottom screw on the left. On the right side of the switch, I have one black wire coming in to the bottom screw-and that is it. In review, I have only 3 wires coming into the double switch. None of the wires are grounded (the ground wires are taped up with black electrical tape with one of the white wires).

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.

Rick :

Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I'm here to answer any of your electrical questions.

Rick :

Sounds like someone has made some changed to your electrical that should not have been done. The white wire should never be connected to ground wires, with the exception of the main service panel.

Rick :

Do you have a voltage meter?

Customer:

Yes, I figured out that it was wired wrong when I opened the switch box, however, I do not know how to correct it. Also, I had asked if it is normal to have 2 separate Romex wires coming down into the double switch. Also, how would I go about wiring my fan to one switch and my light to the other switch (on the double switch).

Customer:

No, I do not have a voltage meter.

Rick :

To figure out your questions you will need a voltage meter. You will need to take down your fan, and get to the junction boxes of your lights. We need to figure out what was done in order to know how to guide you. As far as 2 romex wires going to one switch it just all depends on how they are being used. You need a voltage meter.

Customer:

I already have a separate light and separate fan installed (it was installed when I bought the house). The light was always turning itself off randomly, so I didn't use it. The fan worked but it was old and I wanted to replace it. So, I bought a new fan that has a light in it, and I was trying to wire the new fan so that the light and fan could be turned on separately, however, I ran into trouble when I took the switch out of the wall.

Rick :

If you want to control the light and fan separately the simplest way for you to accomplish that without going through a whole lot of troubleshooting is to buy a universal remote control for the fan.

Rick :

Full Size Image
something like this

Customer:

I have 2 separate black wires that run a fan and a light. Do I connect them to the common part of the switch and then the white wires to A1 and B1?

Rick :

Without a tester, I couldn't tell you. As a electrician blacks are hot wires and white wires are neutral, but whoever wired your fan and lights was obviously not a electrician and didn't follow any sort of color code. All I would be doing is guessing.

Rick :

Did you take the ceiling fan apart?

Customer:

It is not a ceiling fan. It is a bathroom exhaust fan and a bathroom light (the are one unit). I gave you the model number of the fan/light combo I am using, and the double switch I am using to replace the existing separate fan and light AND switch in the bathroom. Does that help?

Customer:

5224 Leviton double switch and a Nutone 763RLN fan/light combo.

Rick :

So, you have a stack switch?

Customer:

Standard combination 2 switch Leviton 5224

Rick :

That is a stack switch. Is that the only switch ?

Customer:

Yes, that is the only switch. (They call the switch a "straight-blade combination" switch).

Rick :

You said you have 2 romex cable. Romex # XXXXX what color is connected to what? Romex # XXXXX is connected to what?

Customer:

Currently (before I install new light/fan combo), the Romex #1 is connected to the fan. Romex #2 is connected to the light.

Rick :

I'm only talking about the switch right now. What color from which romex is connected to what. I amtryin to give you the best possible way to communicate with me how your switch is wired so I can try to help you as much as you will allow me to by providing the information that I need. Romex #1 black wire is connected to what? White wire is connected to what? Romex #2 same questions

Customer:

Okay, thank you for your patience. The bottom right side of the switch has a black wire and that goes to the fan. On the bottom left side of the switch, is a white wire and again, that goes to the fan. On the top left of the switch, is a black wire that goes to the light. And that is all that is connected to the switch.

Customer:

But I am replacing the existing switch with a new switch that is the Leviton 5224. I was hoping to just wire the new switch exactly like the old switch, but that isn't happening due to the way someone previously wired it.

Rick :

romex 1 white wire goes to black or gold screw on switch. romex 1 white wire goes to what color on switch. romex # XXXXX white wire goes to where romex # XXXXX black wire goes to where. I can not see what you are seeing, unless you want to upload a picture. In this case it would be a great idea, if you would please upload a picture

Customer:

Romex #1 white is taped up with the ground wire. Romex #1 black wire is connected to top left terminal/brass screw on left side of switch. Romex #2 white is connected to bottom left terminal/brass screw. Romex #2 black is connected to bottom right terminal/brass screw.

Customer:

Trying to upload picture

Rick :

Now I can picture it with your info.

Rick :

Let me upload a picture on info on how to wire up the stack switch and this may help you a great deal.

Customer:

Did you get the 2 pictures I sent you of how the switch is wired?

Rick :

Full Size Image
On the black side you only need 1 wire. This needs to be you hot wire. Which ever wire is hot all the time needs to go there. Top of bottom does not matter because they are connected together by the bridge you see in the picture. On the other side you have 2 separate brass screws. One wire should go to the light and the other should go to the fan. However you have a dangerous situation with your grounds connected to the neutral and you. The neutral wires carry electricity as well, so you are electrifying everything in your home that is grounded. If you are barefoot, or have wet feet and become grounded, and you touch something electrified, you will get shocked. No I did not receive any pictures.

Customer:

Woah! I wonder what else is wired wrong in my house? So therefore, the white wire that was black taped to the ground wire should have never been wired together. So what should that white wire have been wired too? I will try to resend the pictures for you.

Rick :

Here is the problem, and why whoever did what they did. They did not run enough wires.

Customer:

Not enough wires? Even though their are two separate Romex wires coming into the switch?

Rick :

Not enough wires. This is why they are using the ground wires as neutrals.

Customer:

In other words, I have 2 black, 2 white and 2 ground wires coming into the switch from 2 romex wires, and that is not enough? What do I need? The existing fan and light work, even though the light did go out and come back on often when the switch to it was on.

Rick :

What should have been there is 1 romex like you have, and another romex like you have but with a extra red wire in it. The first romex would be your hot and neutral power source, and the romex with the extra red wire in it would make black your switch leg for the fan, red your switch leg for the ligh, white would be with your neutral and grounds would only be with grounds.

Rick :

They work and you are in DANGER

Rick :

This is the work that handymen do. They just make things work and do not understand what dangers they are putting people in.

Customer:

Oh, okay. So I need to get a different kind of Romex wire? Do you know what that wire is called? (Is it a 4-3 wire?)

Rick :

depending on the size of the breaker on that circuit. If it is a 15 amp circuit you will need 14-3, if it is a 20 amp breaker you will need 12-3. However how many you need also depends on where your power source originated from. You will need a tester, you will need to take the fan apart to get to the junction box. You will need to do some testing.

Customer:

I agree with you on the danger factor. I did not know that about the wiring until you told me. I could tell something was wrong the minute I opened the switch to look at how they wired it. Hold on and I will check the breaker to see what load it is carrying.

Customer:

I did have a certified electrican come in and put in a new service box. He labeled the bathroom and other ceiling lights all as "general lighting" and it has a 20 amp circuit in it.

Rick :

Well I hope that all the wiring is in #12 wire then. You will need a 12-3m for the switch legs. The wires going to the fan and light. Then as far as the power goes, you need a tester. It may be a good idea to have that electrician come out and have a look to determine what else is like that.

Customer:

Yeah, I think you are right. I am going to have to have someone come out and check everything else. The house has knob and tube wiring from the 1920's. There is only new wiring going to the bathroom and one receptical in the kitchen (because they had to add the GFCI recepticals to sell the house). The rest is all old knob and tube.

Customer:

Like I said, I had the old screw-in fuse box replaced with a new circuit panel box but the guy that did that did not check all of my other wiring going to the new panel box. One would think that he would have checked my other wiring to see if it was all okay. Is that normal to install and new panel box and not check the connections in the house?

Rick :

Yes it is. To check everything in a house would take a lot of time and of course he would want to get paid for that time. Any time I see knob wiring, I always recommend a whole house rewire because of how brittle the stuff becomes over time. Have a good night. Please rate. If the electrician is certified, he will know what to do. Get a few price quotes only from licensed certified electricians and you will be in good hands.

Customer:

Okay, thank you for your time. Have a good night.

Rick :

No problem. It was a pleasure.

Rick, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 452
Experience: 10 yrs as a electrician. Have my own company.
Rick and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Rick replied 1 year ago.
Just wanted to say thank you for the excellent rating. It is greatly appreciated. If you have any more electrical questions, please let me know. Here is my profile page. Thanks again.

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