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Old 07-29-2010, 11:45 AM   #1
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


I'm trying to replace an exhaust fan/light in a bathroom that was on one switch with an exhaust fan/light on two separate switches. I know very little about electrical, so I apologize in advance for my poor description. Below is a diagram.

The main wire coming from the panel goes directly to the fixture in the ceiling. I hooked the white/neutral to the white/neutral of the fixture. The black/hot connects to a seperate romex and travels to the switches. It splits at the switches and the two "hots" go back to the fixture inb the same romex. So when both the fan and the light are switched on, there will be two "hot" lines inside the cable. Is this safe? I'm trying to avoid opening up the walls to add another cable.




Last edited by kboothe; 07-29-2010 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:48 AM   #2
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


No, it's not safe and it's not legal.

How do you suppose you would run that neutral wire from the panel to the fan and light? If you could run that wire, then you could run a new romex with hot and neutral to the fan and wire it up correctly.

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Old 07-29-2010, 11:52 AM   #3
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


thank you very much. So should i run a new 12-3 romex from the switches to the fixtures (in place of the 12-2 pictured at the bottom of the diagram)? or two seperate 12-2s?

Wouldn't a 12-3 with two "hot" wires be the same as a 12-2 with two hot wires? or is the structure of the cable different (other than the fact that it has 3 wires)?

I also just edited the original description if that helps.
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:57 AM   #4
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


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thank you very much. So should i run a new 12-3 romex from the switches to the fixtures (in place of the 12-2 pictured at the bottom of the diagram)? or two seperate 12-2s?
(1) 12-3 is fine. (2) 12-2's will also work, but you will have to use both neutrals and that will increase the wiring inside the little junction box on the fan/light. Why make more work for yourself?
Quote:
Wouldn't a 12-3 with two "hot" wires be the same as a 12-2 with two hot wires? or is the structure of the cable different (other than the fact that it has 3 wires)?
A 12-3 would have (2) hots and (1) neutral. You need that neutral in the same cable assembly as the (2) hots. You can't run a separate neutral up to the light/fan like your image suggests.

Again, how would you run that separate neutral up from the panel to the fan?
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Old 07-29-2010, 11:59 AM   #5
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


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Originally Posted by kboothe View Post
I also just edited the original description if that helps.
Yes, that changes EVERYTHING. Your diagram doesn't show that the fan/light is fed from the panel.
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The main wire coming from the panel goes directly to the fixture in the ceiling.
You need to run a 12-3 from the fan/light down to the switch, no getting around it.
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Old 07-29-2010, 12:09 PM   #6
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


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Yes, that changes EVERYTHING. Your diagram doesn't show that the fan/light is fed from the panel.
You need to run a 12-3 from the fan/light down to the switch, no getting around it.
I'm sorry, I don't understand how that's different than just using the existing 12-2. I won't need the neutral in the 12-3 because all of the neutrals connect at the fixture. Is my whole layout unacceptable?

Does it make a difference if I reverse the setup and have the hot go to the fixtures and the neutrals got to the switches?

I also should have stated that I tried this and it worked fine. I am concerned about the safety of the two "hot" wires in one romex cable coming from the switches.
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Old 07-29-2010, 12:14 PM   #7
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


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I won't need the neutral in the 12-3 because all of the neutrals connect at the fixture.
You're right, you changed your description, you don't need the neutral at the switch. But you still need a feed an then (2) switch legs between the switch and the fan/light.
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Is my whole layout unacceptable?
Yes, it is. Why would you want to run a new 12-2 and wire it up the wrong way when you can run a new 12-3 instead and wire it up correctly?

You can't have current running down one cable and coming back thru a second, whether it be a hot and neutral or a switch leg.
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Does it make a difference if I reverse the setup and have the hot go to the fixtures and the neutrals got to the switches?
Yes, it does make a difference, it makes it even MORE dangerous and illegal.
Quote:
I also should have stated that I tried this and it worked fine. I am concerned about the safety of the two "hot" wires in one romex cable coming from the switches.
It seems like you want reassurance for what you did, I don't think you are going to find that here.
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Old 07-29-2010, 12:19 PM   #8
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


Explain this:
Quote:
The black/hot connects to a seperate romex and travels to the switches. It splits at the switches and the two "hots" go back to the fixture inb the same romex.
How does the black/hot travel to the switches in a romex, and then two hots come back up the same romex? That would require (3) wires. You diagram also shows (2) separate runs of romex. Something is not adding up.
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Old 07-29-2010, 12:31 PM   #9
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


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You're right, you changed your description, you don't need the neutral at the switch. But you still need a feed an then (2) switch legs between the switch and the fan/light. Yes, it is. Why would you want to run a new 12-2 and wire it up the wrong way when you can run a new 12-3 instead and wire it up correctly?

You can't have current running down one cable and coming back thru a second, whether it be a hot and neutral or a switch leg.
Yes, it does make a difference, it makes it even MORE dangerous and illegal.
It seems like you want reassurance for what you did, I don't think you are going to find that here.
I'm not looking to be patted on the back, just wanted to know: #1 if I'm risking a fire, #2 if it's up to code(in general), and #3 to learn.

There were two existing 12-2 romex cables running from the fixture to the switch. Romex #1 has the hot going to the switches and the neutral is unused. Romex #2 has the two hots (though one is white/the other black) going from the switches back to the fixture. Replacing Romex#2 with a 12-3 seems unnecessary to me because the third wire won't be used (but I obviously know very little).
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Old 07-29-2010, 12:57 PM   #10
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


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I'm not looking to be patted on the back, just wanted to know: #1 if I'm risking a fire,
Yes, I stated that it was unsafe in my first post. If using metal boxes you are risking those boxes heating up.
Quote:
#2 if it's up to code(in general),
Absolutely not, I stated that in my first post as well.
Quote:
and #3 to learn.
I'll be happy to teach you, I've been answering your questions.

I said this earlier, this is the situation which you have that you have to avoid:

You can't have current running down one cable and coming back thru a second, whether it be a hot and neutral or a switch leg.


Quote:
There were two existing 12-2 romex cables running from the fixture to the switch. Romex #1 has the hot going to the switches and the neutral is unused. Romex #2 has the two hots (though one is white/the other black) going from the switches back to the fixture. Replacing Romex#2 with a 12-3 seems unnecessary to me because the third wire won't be used (but I obviously know very little).
The 12-3 will be necessary. You will use the white wire (re-identified as black with tape) to bring power down to the switch box. You will then use the black wire as a switch leg to bring power back up to the light and the red wire as a switch leg to bring power back up to the fan.

You will abandon both 12-2 cables. There is no way to use them in this situation. Even if you used one conductor in each cable at the hot to the switches, that would be considered paralleling conductors which you can't do in this situation.
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Old 07-29-2010, 01:00 PM   #11
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


Thank you very much. You've been very helpful. just didn't appreciate the snide condescension, but I guess i get what i pay for.
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Old 07-29-2010, 01:05 PM   #12
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


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Thank you very much. You've been very helpful. just didn't appreciate the snide condescension, but I guess i get what i pay for.
The only snide condescension would be this post.

I don't appreciate it after I spent my time helping you thru your situation for what you paid (free).

Thanks for the backhanded gratitude.
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Old 07-29-2010, 01:26 PM   #13
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


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The only snide condescension would be this post.

I don't appreciate it after I spent my time helping you thru your situation for what you paid (free).

Thanks for the backhanded gratitude.
My bad. I guess something got lost in translation on my end. Thank you very much for the help. I'll just try and snake a new 12-3 through.

sorry,
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Old 07-29-2010, 01:33 PM   #14
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


Fair enough, if I came across as snide than I apologize as well.

Good luck with the install
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Old 07-29-2010, 01:52 PM   #15
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Two "hot" wires in one romex?


Thanks!

one last question, you wrote:
You can't have current running down one cable and coming back thru a second, whether it be a hot and neutral or a switch leg.

Why is this not allowed (current running from one cable and back a different cable)?

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