Renovating GF's bathroom, found a conundrum.

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by nickb2, Jul 28, 2016.

  1. nickb2

    nickb2 Wrench. I help when I can

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    Hi guy's and gall's.

    I have fallen into a bit of a conundrum.

    While wanting to install a double switch for the fan and light, I fell upon something I have never see before.

    Apart from removing some hardware and gyp rock, I can't be sure, but my multimeter doesn't lie.

    So, my problem is within the walls or ceiling.

    In the switch receptacle, all is kosher. White=neutral and black=load. Any idiot can understand that.

    Have Red, white and black fly wire going to the two loads, which are fan and lighting.

    This is where it gets funny. Pulled apart the ceiling receptacles and no red wire to be found, hence I cannot separate the two loads.

    Independently, I am getting 115isvolts on the red and the black. Somewhere along the line, someone spliced the two together.

    A double switch should not be hard to install. All you need is a load and a neutral, the switch does the rest.

    At the receptacles in the ceiling, fan has white and black, Lighting has white and black. No red load wire to be seen.

    Unless I am crazy, can somebody tell me where that red wire went and why do I have 115v on it?

    A split circuit like this always or should use a three wire harness. Red for load (example=fan) Black for load (example= lighting) an white for neutral. WTF???

    What am I missing here, or did some crazy under the table guy just hooked this up and slapped drywall over his shoddy work??
     
  2. billr

    billr wrench Staff Member

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    I don't mean to be a jerk here, but am suggesting that these "non automotive" threads should be in the Lounge.

    As to the unknown red wire, one possibility is that it was a "traveler" previously going to a 3-way (or 4-way) switch before the fan was added; that the overhead light where the fan is now may have been controlled from several different places. I would remove every switch (and then receptacle) plate and look for red wires, that will give you some clue where it goes to, what it does or used to do. that really doesn't take much time, and if you start with switches in-or-near the room with the fan, you will probably come across it soon. If no joy there, then you have to go to the fuse/breaker box and start flipping them off to see how every thin if powered. Yes, I have seen some pretty crazy stuff with residential wiring, and much of it was "approved". Over the years, I have been amazed at how crappy electrical standards are in some details, and yet stupidly restrictive (Draconian?) in others. Checking this out is no different than auto work, just patience and persistence, and you may have to sketch out a schematic based on the best guesses by comparing wire colors, sizes, what loads are controlled at each spot, and where the primary power comes from. Use a radio along with a test light or meter, you can hear that from a long way away as you flip breaker/switches or pull fuses...
     
  3. kev2

    kev2 wrench

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    Now you have an overhead light fan - is or was there a light over sink vanity?
    I am thinking there was or is (vanity lighting) added or removed and that wall might have the splice....

    PS: be sure to get a QUIET fan. A pet peeve.
     
  4. nickb2

    nickb2 Wrench. I help when I can

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    Yeah, your right on that one. And NO, you are not a jerk. Far from it.

    @kev2, there is no vanity light. I simply bought a wall mount fixture and plug it in the fused razor receptacle. My GF still has a plug available for her hair dryer.;)

    This may sound funny, but when billr mentioned using a radio, I remembered that yesterday, my battery charger for my power tools was insanely buzzing, and once I moved it to a different location, it went back to normal.

    Something was interfering on a hertz level there for sure.

    Since I started thread here, I will finish it here and the next time, I will post my non-automotive threads/stuff in the "lounge" as suggested.

    I tend to get carried away and don't really think about where I post my stuff. I will try to be more attentive to that in the future.

    So to continue with my half a$$ed brain. Could it be that the heater is on the same circuit (red wire)?

    If so, that is a major no no. In any case, that can't be. It's supposed to be on 220/240v. The thermostat is probably on its own circuit also, cuz when I trip the breaker, the thermostat is still active. The breaker box has a few markings, but the few that are marked don't coincide with the house circuits, and I had to relabel them all. I had not used liquid paper in a long time. I had to go buy a new bottle cuz the old one my GF had was all dried up.

    Today, I will tie some fishing wire to a lead and try/attempt to fish it through.

    My idea is, that since I am getting power to both the fan and light at the same time regardless of what I do, I will interrupt the fan load lead. Keep the neutral active since that portion of the circuit makes sense to me.

    However, before I attempt to modify any thing, I think it would be best to get permission from her landlord.

    I am getting 122v on the black load lead, and 113v on the red load lead. What's up with that? I took out the energy saver bulb and still had same voltages at the double switch receptacle.

    I ohmed that red lead with both fan and light. No joy. Something is powering that red lead circuit, and for the life of me, I don't know why or where or what it's supposed to power up.

    In my head space, this is a potential fire hazard.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2016
  5. nickb2

    nickb2 Wrench. I help when I can

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    I watched this video very attentively, and just to make sure, I watched it a second time.

    I followed everything as detailed in this video, no joy. What am I doing wrong? IDK.

     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2016
  6. nickb2

    nickb2 Wrench. I help when I can

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    I will take my ancient cellphone to her place today and take pictures. Maybe that will help you guy's to help me.

    I am certainly missing something.

    I consider myself pretty adept at electricity and wiring, but something is eluding me here. And since I am not a licensed electrician for housing, I don't know if that will be a problem for my GF and her landlord. My gf just wants the fan on a independent switch.

    I said to myself and my gf, that should simple enough. Well, apparently not!!:mad:

    @kev2, The fan is quite noisy, but I do believe retrofits are available for this one. So in the future, swapping that will be a no brainer if my GF or her landlord wishes to invest.

    It's a plug and play deal. Not directly wired. So at least I know it is not an ancient 1950's ish deal. :D

    Her landlord does not want to pay for an electrician to come and do the simple fan/light switch mod. And there is no way in hell I am going to pay that out of my pocket for what is supposed to be a 5min deal.

    At my place, the fan switch is conveniently located right in front of the shyter so when I do the nasty, I just extend my finger and turn the dial. If I smell particularly nasty on any given morning, I set it to 20mins. :p That is normally how a bathroom should be wired. Convenient and logical usage.

    On a funny note, when my GF comes to my place, she pisses me off when I am in the shower. She cooks in the kitchen and will use the microwave, toaster and the coffee maker and the rotisserie convection oven all at the same time, trips the breaker and I am in the shower caging my head all over the place cuz the kitchen and bathroom are on the same breaker. I have repeatedly told her to not use all those appliances at the same time. She wouldn't listen, so I went and bought a power bar with a integrated breaker. That way, I don't get caught in the dark anymore.;)

    I plugged the convection oven and the microwave oven to that power bar. They are the most power hungry ones that trip the breaker if they are both on at the same time and she decides to make toast in the 4 slice toaster at the same time.That way, don't need to mess with getting behind the water heater to gain access to the breaker box. Flip the reset switch on the power bar. Simple.

    I know she means well, but sometimes she forgets simple details such as this, so I circumvent them with simple solutions. Avoids me being the nagging one and harping all day.
     
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2016
  7. billr

    billr wrench Staff Member

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    I gotta go, haven't even read all the above. Will get back to you later...
     
  8. billr

    billr wrench Staff Member

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    Yeah, some pictures may help. Is this a single residence, an apartment complex, or a large old home divided into several separate units?

    Do I understand correctly, the switch box on the wall, where you want to have a double switch, has only a BLK and white wire coming in? If so, you are never going to get separate control of two loads (fan and light). You need three wires in that box. Is there also a bare ground? You may be able to use that for one conductor, but way "non-code"!
     
  9. nickb2

    nickb2 Wrench. I help when I can

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    @billr, yes, you understood correctly.

    Neutral and BLK. WAY NON CODE.

    Bare ground = yes.

    So to close this thread, It is a large old home separated into units.
     
  10. nickb2

    nickb2 Wrench. I help when I can

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    Black wire is giving power, red also. All neutrals good and properly hooked up.

    I gave up, put back everything like it was before, but left in the double switch so the electrician could see the conundrum.

    So, repeating myself, no way I am paying for this. Nada, no go.
     
  11. nickb2

    nickb2 Wrench. I help when I can

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    Live current on blk, neutral is feeding the three loads. THREAD CLOSED!!!
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2016

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