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I'm trying to replace an old light fixture in my bathroom with a new one but it is not working correctly. There are two switches, one for the light and one for a vent/light combo on the ceiling. Attached a picture of the outlet box. I did not take a picture of the configuration of the old fixture wire hook ups. I've tried every possible configuration for the new wires. Hooking it up normally (black to black, white to white), the light fixture will stay on when the power is turned on at the breaker and the switch does not turn it off. The configuration in the picture allows me to use the switch that should be just for the vent but seems to be on the same line because it works weakly. All other configurations do nothing.

Some other info that might be relevant is that I see red and white wires coming from both switches, but don't know how that comes in to play at the box.enter image description here

Any suggestions?

  • Since you didn't make a record of the original wiring, you're going to have to figure out where all those wires come from. This is not as hard as you think. First, remove the cover from the vent/light combo and count the cables and wires coming into it. Then remove the cover from the switch junction box and count the cables and wires coming into it. Edit your question with photographs, diagrams, or descriptions what you find in the other j-boxes. – A. I. Breveleri Jun 6 '17 at 5:06
  • I expect the vent/light combo j-box to have one cable, two wires, fan and light connected in parallel to those two wires. I expect the switch j-box to have one cable, three wires, black wire to both switches, white wire to other terminal of one switch, red wire to other terminal of other switch. If this is what you find, then you have a pair of switch loops with power to one of the loads. It will then remain only to test which of the two-wire cables in the light j-box is the power supply. - If you find something else, then we will have more analysis to do. – A. I. Breveleri Jun 6 '17 at 5:13
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    One more suggestion - stop hooking things up at random and figure out exactly what each wire is connected to at its other end. – A. I. Breveleri Jun 6 '17 at 5:16
  • Sorry, I missed your second paragraph when writing the above. - In the switch box, which wire (black, white, red) is connected to both switches? – A. I. Breveleri Jun 6 '17 at 5:55
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"Hooking it up normally (black to black, white to white), the light fixture will stay on when the power is turned on at the breaker and the switch does not turn it off."

This tells you the black wires under the same wire nut and the white wires under the same wire nut, are the hot feed wires from the main panel. This is as it should be. The white wire from the fixture should go under the wire nut with the other white wires. It should never be connected to a black or red wire in normal configurations. (The configuration you have in the picture is incorrect as you have the neutral for the light connected to both switch legs under the same wire nut.)

If there is only one three-wire cable running to the switches, then the white wire should be permanently re-identified as black and it will be connected to the hot black wires in the J-box and become your hot feed to the switches. This is the proper way according to the Code. Then the black wire and the red wire coming back from the switches are your two switched legs. For example, black for light, red for fan/light.

Good luck and stay safe!

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I do not see a mounting for the vent and light combo, but here is a simple wiring explanation. You will need the following; 1 black wire (hot), 1 white wire (neutral) and 2 any color (switch legs). Before you start to hook up the wires make sure you know which wires are the switch legs , the hot, and the neutral.The hook-up starting at the switch is; the black wire to one terminal of both switches (#1) and (#2) the other terminal of #1 switch gets a switch leg wire to the fan black wire and the other terminal of #2 switch get it's own switch leg wire to the light black wire. The white wires from the light and fan get tied together and get connected to the white wire. My suggestion; if you do not know what you are doing please have someone who has electrical experience help you. Electricity can kill you and start fires.

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