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Old 08-27-2012, 05:09 PM   #1
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Bath Fan / Light Wiring


Hello!

I am in the middle of a bathroom renovation, and my new bath fan is giving me some trouble. Actually, Im not sure if its the poorly wired house I bought, built in 1952 (metal boxes, ect), or the bath fan.

It took me a while to figure out which circuit breaker was tied to the bath fan, but eventually, I narrowed it down to 3 of them, so Ive just left all 3 off while I work on the wiring. I blame my circuit tester (http://goo.gl/JIE34), I think its waaaaaay too sensitive, and picks up (chirps at me) voltage in the middle of the room, or when I hold it against random studs, and even when I hold it near insulation... but that is a whole 'nother story.

So with the breakers off, my father-in-law wired up the fan. I turned the breaker back on to test it. It didnt work, no fan, no light, nothing.

I then turned the breaker back off, and my overly sensitive voltage tester is telling me that the wires are all still hot. But now the outlet, on the same circuit, doesnt work (it did before).

Is it possible to bump old metal electrical boxes (behind the switches and outlets, not the main panel), and short out / blow the breaker all together?

I had a similar thing happen to me in an adjacent room, I bumped an outlet while moving some furniture, and now there is no power anywhere in that room.

Also, the wiring diagram is somewhat unclear for a novice like myself.

In summary, I have 3 main questions:

1.) Is it possible to bump old metal electrical boxes (behind the switches and outlets, not the main panel), and short out / blow the breaker all together?
-If so, how do I go about fixing this?

2.) I have 2 switches, leading to the fan / light combo (White, Black, bare ground coming from each switch). Can someone take a peek at the wiring diagram (http://db.tt/amb8cwEt), and tell me how to wire this? We will not be using the night light feature, so I have simply capped the Red wire.

3.) Can anyone suggest a better volatage tester than the one I purchased? I already have a few of the 2-pronged testers, so I am looking for something with the proximity sensing capabilities.


Any other information needed to help me diagnose / fix my issues?

Thank you for your help!

-Jerod

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Old 08-27-2012, 07:26 PM   #2
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Bath Fan / Light Wiring


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Originally Posted by jarlich View Post
In summary, I have 3 main questions:

1.) Is it possible to bump old metal electrical boxes (behind the switches and outlets, not the main panel), and short out / blow the breaker all together?
-If so, how do I go about fixing this?

It is possible but if it is shorted to the metal box to ground then it would trip the breaker- if the breaker isn't tripped then chances are it's a lose connection or wired wrong.

2.) I have 2 switches, leading to the fan / light combo (White, Black, bare ground coming from each switch). Can someone take a peek at the wiring diagram (http://db.tt/amb8cwEt), and tell me how to wire this? We will not be using the night light feature, so I have simply capped the Red wire.

Black from one switch to black on fan. Black on other switch to blue on light. Whites connected to each other and not on either switch. Seems simple so maybe I'm missing something. If the runs from the switches to the light/fan are on something like 12-3 or 14-3 thus have a red,black,white,copper then run the red from one switch to the light and the black on the other to the fan. Whites tied together and same with grounds.

3.) Can anyone suggest a better volatage tester than the one I purchased? I already have a few of the 2-pronged testers, so I am looking for something with the proximity sensing capabilities.

I bought my last few from HD or Lowes and it's nothing fancy and works great.

-Jerod
Hope this helps but if not add more info or a pic of the wiring.

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Old 08-31-2012, 08:58 AM   #3
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Bath Fan / Light Wiring


Thank you for your response!

I ended up getting a contact voltage tester, so I can now be certain when I try to determine if there are hot wires.


Im fairly certain that I have the fan / light wired properly, but I have no way of checking, until I am able to diagnose and correct whatever issue I have in that circuit.

If the breaker in my electrical panel is On, but there is no power to the swicht, or outlet - what are the potential issues? Bad outlet / switch? Bad breaker?

-Would there be any visable signs if there was a bad switch? Can a switch just 'blow' if the circuit gets shorted out?

-The breaker has never been tripped. Can a breaker 'blow', or go bad, without ever having been tripped? Would it be a waste of my time just to swap out that breaker in the panel?

If needed I can take some photos of the setup and post them later.

Thanks for any suggestions!
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:16 AM   #4
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Bath Fan / Light Wiring


You can check for voltage at the screw on the breaker if you feel comfortable checking in the panel.

There is a good chance your boxes are not grounded, but this depends on the wiring method.
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Answers based on the National Electrical Code. Local amendments may apply. Check with your local building officials.
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:16 AM   #5
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Bath Fan / Light Wiring


Hi, i'm new here but saw your post and thought I should share. I have had a breaker and a switch go bad at seperate times without tripping the breaker or showing any signs of damage at all. However, every plug I have had go bad showed some sign of distress. I would start with a new switch providing you show power coming into it from the breaker but not coming out the other side. If no power coming into the switch, ? breaker.
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Old 08-31-2012, 09:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
You can check for voltage at the screw on the breaker if you feel comfortable checking in the panel.

There is a good chance your boxes are not grounded, but this depends on the wiring method.
Thanks Jim - The house is old, 1950's, and I have replaced many 2 prong outlets with 3 prong outlets, using a pig-tail connected to a metal screw, secured to the back of the metal box in order to get it grounded. My outlet tester confirmed that these outlets were configured properly, including the ground.

However, the wire coming into the outlet where I am having the issue, is more modern, white-black-bare. I assumed the bare wire would cover the grounding that I need.

The metal boxes are all connected with flexible metal tubing - I thought that this was part of the old-school grounding technique.

I will check the breaker for voltage at the screw. Thanks for the tip!

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