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Old 01-10-2011, 12:08 AM   #1
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Changing Two Gang Outlet to Three Gang Outlet


I want to apologize for being a total n00b with regards to electrical work. I've changed outlets before, but only to update them (if you plugged anything into them, they sagged and sometimes fell out, so I replaced those old oulets). Anyway, I got a fancy new bathroom fan with separate switches for its light, the fan and a heater. It's crazy. Anyway, I now need to swap out my two-gang outlet for a three-gang outlet.

I'm a computer programmer, and am usually able to figure stuff out, so I figured I'd give it a shot. Everything came with directions anyway, right? So, I shut off the power, take off the face plate, take out the old chassis thing, put in the new one, put the two conduits back in the same place that they were and then I couldn't get anything to work. I never made anything short or pop or anything, but nothing worked, either. Very strange. Anyway, I attached a couple of pictures to help diagram the way it was and what I've been trying.

In the first picture, the one that says "Original Setup" at the top, two conduits are coming through the top of the chassis. The one on the left has two wires, a white one and a faded, orange-y (maybe it was red thirty years ago) one. The right conduit has a red wire, a black wire and two white wires. The orange-y wire was connected to the top of the left outlet, but just a little bit of the wire was stripped at that point, and the same wire is connected to both the top of the left outlet on its right side and to the bottom of the right outlet on its right side. The white wire from the left conduit went straight to a wire nut. One of the white wires from the right conduit went straight to the same wire nut. The second white wire from the right conduit went to the bottom left of the left outlet. The black wire went from the right conduit to the bottom right of the left outlet. The left outlet has two switches. The top switch turned on the light in the bathroom. The bottom switch turned on the fan. I was thinking that the red and orange-y wires were powering the light and the black and white wire (the white wire that went into the bottom left side of the left outlet) were powering the fan, due to their placement.

The new outlet will look like the second picture, the one that says "Desired Setup" at the top.

I tried to hook up just the left-most outlet from the desired setup, the light switch/electric outlet combo. The directions make mention of just white and black wires. So, initially, I tried putting the white wire that I figured was connected to the fan switch (bottom left of the left outlet) to the bottom left of the new outlet (switch/electric outlet combo). The back of the new outlet says "LINE" and points to both sides of the bottom. I put the black wire on the bottom right of the new outlet. The directions showed the ground wire connected, so I moved the ground wire from the second outlet to the new outlet. I turned the power back on... nothing. Nothing shorted or anything. But nothing happened. I flipped the switch on the new outlet, checked the reset button, etc. Nothing.

Okay, I thought. Plan B... I tried wiring both the new outlet and the one outlet that I want to reuse (the rightmost from the original setup) together at the same time, as similar to the original setup as I could get.

I put the red wire to the bottom left and looped the orange-y wire around both the bottom right of the new outlet and the one I'm reusing. The bottoms of both outlets are marked "LINE" on the back. I did not wire up the black and white wires from the original, double-switch outlet. I left them dangling, not touching anything. The same three white wires were screwed back together with the wire nut.

Turned the power back on... again: nothing. Flipped the light switch, hit the reset button, etc. Nothing.

What am I doing wrong? What am I supposed to be doing?

And for the fancy, schmancy new bathroom fan? I've got a green wire, a red wire, a black wire and a... blue wire? Seems like the green's the ground. So... just screw that into the back of the chassis? Do I need to connect any of the other outlets' ground to it somehow? Or do I just need the one?

Let me tell ya... the "directions" on the new bathroom fan are a mess. Might as well just say "?!? Figure it out yourself." They give two completely different maps that make no sense with regards to what I see coming out of my wall. They seem entirely incompatible.

Does that all make sense? Is there anything else you need from me to help me figure this out? Thanks to all in advance.
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Last edited by vbullinger; 01-10-2011 at 12:48 AM. Reason: Forgot pictures
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Old 01-10-2011, 12:36 AM   #2
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Changing Two Gang Outlet to Three Gang Outlet


Where's the pics?

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Old 01-10-2011, 12:48 AM   #3
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Changing Two Gang Outlet to Three Gang Outlet


Whoops. Attached.
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Old 01-10-2011, 09:40 AM   #4
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Changing Two Gang Outlet to Three Gang Outlet


Are "bump" posts allowed here? I posed this yesterday and want to make sure it doesn't get lost. Usually, "bumps" are allowed once per day or so.

I can't use my bathroom light/fan until this gets resolved, unless I want to put it all back together just to take it all apart again (I don't).
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:27 AM   #5
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Changing Two Gang Outlet to Three Gang Outlet


Your original schematic looks like the fan is on a switch loop (power enters at the fan, not the switch box). The left conduit in your original schematic shows power entering the light switch and the receptacle, but not the fan. I also see one neutral connection (the wirenut) for the receptacle and the light switch, but I can't see the neutral for the fan.

Is the fan on the same circuit as the light? Considering that you have a new fan with a heater, it probably needs its own circuit. Can you describe the wiring connection you made on the fan itself?

Your new fan switch is not designed for switch loops (it needs the power to enter at the switch, not at the fan). The black lead connects to your hot, the green goes to ground, and the red should go to the fan. The blue will connect to the neutral of the fan circuit (which may not necessarily be the same neutral that is in the switch box right now).
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:33 AM   #6
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Changing Two Gang Outlet to Three Gang Outlet


Take the wire on the top right of the light switch connect to the common(double screw) terminal on the switch/receptacle combo.
Take the wire from the to left and put on single screw beside switch.
Add another short white wire to the nut and attach to the silver screw.

Take the two wires from the bottom and attach fancy fan switch.

Leave the existing receptacle as is.

If this is a bathroom the receptacles must be GFCI protected.
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Last edited by joed; 01-10-2011 at 10:34 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-10-2011, 10:54 AM   #7
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Changing Two Gang Outlet to Three Gang Outlet


do you have a tester to test for power?? do you have a voltmeter?? I use a simple pencil style the will light up when there is power on a wire.

have you opened up your light and checked how they are connected there?? that would be interesting to see because you should not have (2) whites coming from your light unless there are two separate wires running there from the box..

rod
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Old 01-10-2011, 11:02 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rditz View Post
do you have a tester to test for power?? do you have a voltmeter?? I use a simple pencil style the will light up when there is power on a wire.

have you opened up your light and checked how they are connected there?? that would be interesting to see because you should not have (2) whites coming from your light unless there are two separate wires running there from the box..

rod

I think he has the fan on a switch loop.
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Old 01-10-2011, 12:15 PM   #9
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Changing Two Gang Outlet to Three Gang Outlet


Help clear up some confusion:

Is the existing a 2 gang or a 3 gang box?

If you are replacing the existing fan / light with a with a fan/light/heater combo, why do you need a third device? Replace the existing duplex switch with the new triple switch.

How many conduits and wires are there at the fan location?

Most bath heater combos I have seen require a dedicated 20 amp circuit.
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Old 01-10-2011, 05:13 PM   #10
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Changing Two Gang Outlet to Three Gang Outlet


Quote:
Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
Is the existing a 2 gang or a 3 gang box?
The original was a 2-gang box. I'm replacing it with a 3-gang box.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
If you are replacing the existing fan / light with a with a fan/light/heater combo, why do you need a third device?
The duplex switch has separate controls for the light in the bathroom and the old fan. The lights in the bathroom are not in the fan: it's just a fan. So there were separate switches. The new, triple switch will not be connected with the bathroom lights. It has its own, separate light. Make sense?
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
How many conduits and wires are there at the fan location?
There is one conduit coming from one side and one from the other side. There is also a wide, white wire going into it. See the attached diagram.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
Most bath heater combos I have seen require a dedicated 20 amp circuit.
Uh oh. How do I make sure this is set up properly? Gol dern wife, demanding to have an awesome, super deluxe bathroom fan. I just wanted to replace it with a simple one where I could connect it to the exact same wiring. Sheesh!
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Last edited by vbullinger; 01-10-2011 at 05:14 PM. Reason: Forgot to cut out some of rjniles' quote.
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