I feel like this is something I should be able to do but after reading similar threads I'm still confused:

My bathroom is setup with two 12/2 wires coming into the switch box. One I know for sure goes to the ceiling exhaust fan and only the fan (the yellow sheathed wire). The other should goto my light. The ground on the light wire is connected directly to the box if that matters.

With the breaker on, the common wire in the switch box that is coming from the light is hot?

Does this make sense and how would I wire a single switch so when its on, both the light and fan are powered?

Thanks in advance.

EDIT: I know at one time this was set up on two switches in the switch box. I'd like to avoid that and run both off the same switch.

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  • Is rerouting the wiring an option here? Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 3:21
  • I'd have to go with a pro at that point, which isn't a problem if that's what needs to be done. I just figured this was something I could tackle.
    – Andrew
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 3:26
  • Can you post photos of the wiring at the fan please, even? Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 3:27
  • I'm sorry, I can't. It's buried under a foot of insulation in smallest part of my attic. I spent ten minutes crawling to it earlier and didn't think to take a pic. I can tell you that the yellow sheathed /2 wire goes directly to the fan and is wired to the respective hot, common, and ground pigtails on the fan unit. Nothing else coming off it. I also edited the original post to reflect the original configuration.
    – Andrew
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 3:31

1 Answer 1


You'll need a pro to sort this out if you're not comfortable rerunning wiring yourself

The problem you have is that the light was run as a switch loop, with an always-hot from the light fixture box down to the switch and a switched-hot from the switch back to the light, but no neutral, as was permitted by the NEC prior to 2011. However, whoever ran the /2 cable for the fan down to the switch box expected power to be coming in here, or at the very least, for both always-hot and neutral to be available here. So, you'll need to either reroute the cable for the fan to the light box or replace the /2 for the light switch loop with a /3 yourself, or have a pro do it for you if you aren't comfortable with DIYing that.

  • @Andrew we thank people around here by upvoting and/or accepting their answers :) Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 3:45
  • Last question before I accept your answer: in its current configuration, is there some way to wire this all up without running new wire and be done with it? Two switches, etc.?
    – Andrew
    Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 4:40
  • @Andrew -- sadly, no, whoever installed it painted themselves into a corner Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 4:40

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