I'm trying to install push button timer switch for the shower fan. In the wall socket there are just two wires plus ground. Previously, a mechanical timer connected the two wires.

Based on this answer and this answer, it looks like I got a wrong switch. However, my switch comes with an extra jumper wire to hook up to the neutral line.

  • Based on my previous setup, are the wires in my wall hot and load, or hot and neutral?
  • Can I use the jumper wire to connect either line or load to the neutral terminal, to get the timer to work?

I attached photo of the manual. The drawing of the socket shows wires coming from both top and bottom of the socket (line and neutral from one end, load and neutral from another end), but I have only two wires coming from one side.

Old timer switch old timer switch

Manual. Circled connection is missing. I stopped at the third-last step (Remove the white jumper wire) photo of manual

Thank you

  • note you can buy modern looking push button switches that do not require neutral. They will be clearly marked "no neutral required"
    – agentp
    Nov 7, 2017 at 12:37
  • thanks, it's good to know that I have some options available Nov 7, 2017 at 18:57
  • 1
    dig around behind the box, very often there's an untapped neutral behind the switch.
    – dandavis
    Nov 7, 2017 at 22:00
  • There is also a light switch in the box, is it ok to share its neutral? Nov 7, 2017 at 23:51

1 Answer 1


You got the wrong switch.

A spring wound timer switch, like the GE unit you're taking out, is you-powered. It doesn't need energy from another source to do what it does. Like any passive switch, it is simply a gate between "always-hot" and "switched-hot".

However, your push button timer switch needs power to do its little thing. And it needs power at all times. In electricity, you get power between hot and neutral.

So the switch needs neutral. Your switch is on a switch loop, and historically they never provided neutral on switch loops. Now they're starting to do it... but if you don't have neutral, you can't use this switch.

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