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This is a very old house. I wanted to add a light/fan to this bathroom while the ceiling was down for repair. When I opened the switch box this is what I found (second picture). A GFI wired correctly, with the switch for the existing vanity light coming off the GFI load side, however I’m not sure what the red wire is for. Since I need to keep the vanity lights and add the switch for the light/fan, I bought this Legrand Combination switch (last 3 pics) hoping to be able to use it to accomplish the switching without having to start cutting into plaster to install a 3 gang box.

Can anyone draw out or explain well how I can wire this up with what I have to work with, or suggest a better combination switch and how to wire it all up?

Thanks.

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This write-up assumes supply power is coming in from the bottom cable. It's a little hard to tell what the blacks are doing.

Typically when electricians install light/fan wiring, they use /3 cable so that black and red can be used to separately control 2 things. (white white as neutral return).

Why they ran a /3 cable to your vanity, I really do not know. I have a feeling this /3 cable goes up to your ceiling box, then a /2 comes down to the vanity. In that case, one wire (e.g. Black) feeds the vanity and the red is capped off waiting for use with a ceiling fan.

In your case, it was wired without separate control, as the red and black are connected to the same screw of the switch, using an illegal double-tap. You are about to correct that.

Split it: the supply cable (from the GFCI) goes to a black "common" terminal on the dual switch, and then each of the red and black wires go to separate brass terminals. That will give you separate control of red and black.

Up top, you'd need to connect red and black separately to different devices. Both use white for neutral.

Don't pull the splitter in the back of the switch, and don't take the tape off the terminals.

  • Awesome thanks. If I want the fan and light to be controlled together (come on at the same time) I would just splice the two wires on the light fan together? – E Mac Nov 6 '18 at 13:04
  • sorry, I was confused about the vanity. Updated. Common control of light and fan is fine. Any way you want it, you can control 2 things. To control 3 things you would need to run a new cable. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 6 '18 at 18:07

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