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GeauxCajuns82 06-16-2008 02:30 PM

Separating Fan and Light Switches
In all 3 bedrooms of my house, the fan and light are controlled by a single switch. I would like for the light and fan to each have their own switch (reaching for the chain in a dark room to turn on the light is a pain). I checked the breaker box and each bedroom runs off its own 15 amp circuit which includes the fan/light and 4 outlets (5 for the master). 15 amp circuits use #14 wire right? The power comes to the switch (for all 3) and then goes to the outlets. So in each switch box there are 3 cables entering/leaving the box (1 from the panel, 1 to the outlets, 1 to the fan/light).

Here's what I think I'm supposed to do:
-Shut off power to circuit at breaker
-Replace the 14/2 wire going to the fan/light with 14/3 wire (easier said then done, attics arent fun to be in during Louisiana summers)
-Enlarge hole in wall and replace box with "remodel" type 2-switch box
-Run two #14 wires from hot junction to each switch
-Connect black wire of fan light cable to one switch and red wire to the other
-At fan/light: Connect red wire to black wire of light, connect black wire to black wire of fan, connect white wire from both fan and light to white wire of cable, connect grounds from fan and light to ground wire of cable.

Let me know if this is correct. Thanks!


jbfan 06-16-2008 03:00 PM

That is how it is done. Like you said, hot attics make for hard projects.

davis081404 06-16-2008 07:03 PM

Sound like you have a handle on the task at hand. Be patient and carefull, leave yourself plenty of time and get plenty of liquid working in that attic will be no joke.

rjniles 06-16-2008 07:43 PM

An alternative would be to install a fan remote control ($20 to $30). This will give you seperate light and fan control. Plus give you light dimming and fan speed control.

joed 06-16-2008 08:10 PM

You have it correct and start work very early in the morning before it gets too hot in the attic.

darren 06-16-2008 09:04 PM

Its DIYer like this i don't mind helping out, they think and research there project out to the fullest and then ask if there is anything he missed. So to the OP good job, this project is a bit more advanced and you have it worked out to a tee. Take your time and do it once.

I hate when people come on here wanting us to tell them how to do everything for them.

GeauxCajuns82 06-17-2008 08:20 AM

Thanks for the positive feedback guys. I just wanted to make sure I was doing it right because I've never tackled an electrical project of this magnitude, only replaced a few worn outlets and light switches.

A few more questions though:
-All of the bedroom circuits run off of a 15-amp circuit, but the living room and dining room run off of 20-amp breakers. Why is this so? Why not run 20-amp minimum on all circuits? The house was built in 1978, maybe they do it differently now?

-Also, last night I pulled off the cover plate to a 3-switch wall box in my living room, all of which are on the same circuit. I noticed that each switch has its own cable running to and from it (6 cables total entering/leaving box). I'm guessing the split in the circuit (from 1 to 3) is taken at a junction box somewhere in the attic instead of the switch box. Is there a code that prohibits taking a split in the switch box instead of in a junction box? Or is this just done to have less wires in the switch box?

joed 06-17-2008 02:46 PM

The is no code about splitting in the switch box. They could have brought one power feed into the box and then three switched lines out to the lights. In fact that is how I would have done it. No need for three power feeds from the same circuit in the same box.

GeauxCajuns82 08-25-2008 10:54 PM

Follow Up
I replaced the fan in my master bedroom and ran new 14/3 wiring as well as added the second switch about a month ago and it has been working fine since. Now I want to do the same with my other two bedrooms. In both rooms, when I opened the switch box I noticed that both switches were middle-of-the-run switches (wire coming in and going out to another receptacle) just like the master, no difference there. However, unlike in the master, the switch itself was being used as the hot terminal instead of using a wire nut. In other words, both the screw terminal as well as the push-in terminal on the switch are used for the incoming hot and outgoing hot so you have 3 wires connected to the switch. Only one wire nut in the outlet box for the 3 white wires. My question is...can I practice this same technique when I add another switch? I would do as follows: Connected incoming hot wire to push-in terminal on light switch, connect hot jumper wire from screw terminal on light switch to screw terminal on fan switch, and connect outgoing hot wire to push-in terminal on fan switch. There would be no change in the red and black wires going to the fan and light.

jbfan 08-25-2008 10:58 PM

You could do it that way, but to me a pigtail would work best.

SD515 08-25-2008 11:46 PM

I agree with JB. The only thing I'd hook to the switch is the 'hot' pigtail and the load.

wilsonmian 08-26-2008 01:03 AM

"In all 3 bedrooms of my house, the fan and light are controlled by a single switch."
That is the worst type of wire planning to construct homes. I have lived in my homes which has the same type of fittings.

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