I've recently turned on my light and exhaust fan switches simultaneously in the bathroom (NuTone combo), the light was up for a millisecond and then went off.

So, now this exhaust fan light switch and the fan motor switch do not work when the two vanity lights are working fine.

Here is a picture of the switches (the left works fine for the vanity lights, but the middle and the right don't):


Here is how terrible it looks inside (scroll down for the diagram of this mess):

Mess inside

Here is what I came up with after trying to establish the connections (but still have some questions):



  1. Wire #1 always has power (120V), unless I turn off the breaker in the garage
  2. Wires #2, #3, and #4 have power only when the breaker is on and Switch #1 is turned on (power between Switch #1 terminals is 120V)
  3. Nuts #1 and #2 have power when approaching them with a non-contact voltage tester
  4. Wires #5 and #6, and Nut #3 never have power
  5. Switches #2 and #3 never have a voltage between terminals
  6. There are GFI outlets in the bathroom, but seems like they are in a completely different circuit
  7. When I turn off the bathroom breaker and GFI outlets breaker in my other bedroom with the same set of switches - the fan and fan light are still on.


  1. Where do wires #4 and #6 go? Could that be, that they are connected via something that went dead and that is why Wire #6 doesn't have power when Wire #4 has?
  2. Is my assumption correct, that Wire #5 with two black wires goes to the NuTone exhaust fan and fan light?
  3. Would that be an easy fix just to connect the black wire from Wire #4 with Nut #3 to feed Switch #2 and #3 with power?
  • Other than the sloppy drywall cutout and that the plasterers and painters did you no favors by not covering the box, that looks perfectly normal for 4 switches in a 3-gang box. Make your life a bit easier: 1) "Cables" have multiple wires in them - you have 5 cables with 3 to 4 wires in each. 2) Clean the paint/mud off the wires by dragging a utility knife along the insulation like you would if you were buttering toast - do not "cut" with the sharp edge, have the sharp edge trailing as you drag the knife. They'll clean right up and that will make this look much better.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 3, 2023 at 23:48
  • 1
    upvote for the amount of work you dedicated to your post
    – jsotola
    Mar 4, 2023 at 3:00

2 Answers 2


Assuming your diagram is correct. ( which is well done by the way) you should be concerned with wire nut #3 and wire #6 as that should be the hot into the switches. You need to find why that wire is not hot. Breaker tripped? Possible GFI opened?

Your assumption that wire #5 goes to fan and light is most likely correct.

Everything else does not matter. You will not measure voltage between terminals, voltage is measured between a hot source and ground or neutral.

Finally NO do not just connect a wire between #4 and wire nut #3 to get power to the light and fan. You need to find and correct the problem, not bypass it.

Double check all breakers. remember any that have tripped must be turned to the off position and then turned back on. Check all GFI points to assure that they are not tripped to open.


Excellent effort on the post!

The fact that you got a millisecond of light, suggests that a GFI outlet (or breaker) that supplies your light and fan has tripped.

I think wire #6 is the power source for your light and fan, and it is supplied by a GFI outlet. With power ON, press the reset on the GFI outlet. If it does not reset, press the test button and see if it pops, then press reset. If the GFI outlet neither pops under test nor resets, it is defective and should be replaced.

It's also possible that wire #6 is supplied by a GFI outlet in a different room.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.