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In the bathroom I am remodeling there is a fan in the ceiling and a light above the sink. The light currently works on the switch shown in the box below. The fan is not currently hooked up to power as the previous owners said the switch went bad. Since the switch was already removed I am not sure how it was wired. The two white wires when I uncap the wire nut and take them apart the light in the bathroom no longer works. The switch has two black wires going into it. I suspect the red/white/black wires in the left part of the picture go to the fan. I believe I need to jump power from the existing switch to the new switch but not 100% sure what to do. Please help

  • 2
    Can you post a photo of the wiring at the fan? Mar 30, 2017 at 2:29
  • I don't currently have a picture of the wiring at the fan as I haven't taken it apart. I was first going to try and supply power to the line. The fan when I looked it up on the models guide online it shows its a 3 wire setup.
    – Todd
    Mar 30, 2017 at 16:00
  • 1
    What do you mean "3 wire setup"? Can you post the manual link or model #? If the fan has its own light, heat lamp, humidity and/or motion sensor then I can get why it would have 3 conductors, but otherwise it sounds strange.
    – gregmac
    Mar 30, 2017 at 22:08

1 Answer 1


Looks like you have a switch for a ceiling or vanity light and that there was probably a double switch for the fan and its light. If that's the case, here's how it goes. I'd strip everything out and start with fresh ends. There should be no tape involved--just properly-sized nuts. Yellow, red, and/or multi-size tan should do.

  • The cable coming in at center appears to be your source. If that's not true, it's almost certainly the other two-wire cable. You'll need to safely investigate this.
  • Source black needs two pigtails attached. One goes to the single switch (shown in your photo), and the other goes to your new double switch.
  • Black from your ceiling/vanity light goes to the single switch (shown in your photo). Position of the two blacks is not important for this switch.
  • Black and red from your fan go to the new double switch. Positions of the two blacks and the red depend on your choice of switch.
  • All whites get bundled. No pigtails.
  • All grounds get bundled, with pigtails to each switch (assuming modern switches with ground screws or pigtails).

Your situation essentially looks like this, though you'd have an additional wire coming off the timer switch:

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Note that currently you have three blacks connected to the single switch, one presumably using the backstab socket. In my recipe I'm substituting a pigtail, which I think is a cleaner arrangement.

My condolences on the hideous hack-job done to your drywall.

  • Thank you! Just one point of clarification. On the new switch for the fan does the pigtail go to one connection on the switch and the red and black from the fan go to the other?
    – Todd
    Mar 30, 2017 at 16:14
  • Your new switch should have three connections--light and fan should be switched independently.
    – isherwood
    Mar 30, 2017 at 16:26
  • This is the fan unit I have. Apparently it doesn't have a light. It's a heater and a fan but it indicates it can be setup to work independently. nutone.com/products/product/…
    – Todd
    Mar 31, 2017 at 0:42
  • I wondered if it wasn't a heater since you didn't mention a light. Same story with the wiring.
    – isherwood
    Mar 31, 2017 at 3:50
  • Thank you. I just went out and bought wire nuts, wire to make the pig tails and new double rocker switch, so I can keep the heat and fan on two separate switches. homedepot.com/p/… - Before I proceed I want to clarify . In this case do I run 3 pigtails off my existing hot? 1 to the original switch for the light. 1 to the top portion of the rocker switch and 1 to the bottom portion of the rocker switch and then the units red and black to the other sides?
    – Todd
    Mar 31, 2017 at 17:10

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