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Mike G.
Mike G., Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 7104
Experience:  Proven Professional 46 years Experience
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I'm replacing a 35 year old combination triple single pole

Customer Question

Hi, I'm replacing a 35 year old combination triple single pole switch for the bathroom light, fan, heater. I removed the old one, which used jumpers across terminals. The new one has a spot for the common and then three other terminals for the individual switches. My problem is that there is one common coming out of the box and two other black wires. It seems I'm missing either the red wire or another black wire. I can't get the light to work no matter what combination I use.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Hi, I'm Mike G and I'll be assisting you. The fan light heater may have been wired with 2 two wirecables and one has the hot and the other wires are switch leg back to the unit. Find the hot, 120V to ground, then touch each of the other wires to it to verify my assumption. Let me know how it goes.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I'm not sure what your asking me to do? I found the hot wire. So what is supposed to happen when I touch the other two black wires to the hot wire? Are you wanting me to do this with the hot wire hooked up to the switch, or disconnect everything and have the wires loose?
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

With the loose wires, touch each to hot wire to show what they operate.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, one operates fan. One operates heater. Neither operate light.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

There should be another wire. If they used 2 two wire cables, that is 4 wires. 1 hot, 1 fan, 1heater, 1 light.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
That's why I'm writing you. I figured so too, but the old switch had two jumpers. There are three white, three black in the box. The old switch worked fine operating the fan, heater and light but like I said, it had two jumpers
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Here is a pic of the old switch
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

I can only comment on what it should have been. The only thing, under the circumstances is to check in the unit to see how it was wired there. Sorry if that isn't definate but that is all I can offer. The picture of the old switch show the jumpers to power the individual switches. The new one doesn't require jumpers. You must have had 4 wires connected to the old switch.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I think there were four wires, but the 4th was neutral. I can't wire a neutral wire on this switch, can I?
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

It was a white wire used for a hot. It should have been marked with black tape.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do I need to touch each one of the white wires to the hot to see if one of those is the light hot wire?
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

No don't do that. Look to see which one is paired with one of the black wires. That should be the one. Too bad you attached it not knowing it's function.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can I jumper the light outlet in the ceiling then do a continuity check to the white wire to know for sure (with power off)
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Just visually look to see which white enters the box with one of the blacks you know operate a function. You can ring it out but if you do as instructed it will be faster.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

Let me know how it goes.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, knuckleheads used a white wire as a carrier wire. Think I figured it out now. Going to wire it up and will let you know what happens.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

That's what I figured. It's done that way, but the wire needed to be marked.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok, it's fixed. Thanks for the help. I knew there should have been either a red wire or another black. Didn't even think of them using a white wire. Much appreciated.
Expert:  Mike G. replied 1 year ago.

You're welcome, Glad to help.

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