I'm replacing a switch with a switch/outlet (GFCI) in my bathroom. The switch will control the bathroom exhaust fan. Currently I only have two wires to work with (hot & neutral...no ground). The GFCI switch/outlet receptacle I bought has a line and load side plus two black wires that I assume control the switch. I don't know what to do with the two black wires that control the switch. I'm assuming I do nothing with the load side considering that I am only working with two wires that were connected to the old switch.


1 Answer 1


Based on your description, you cannot do what you want unless you run additional conductors.

It sounds like all you have in the box is a switch loop. Meaning you have a wire coming "from" the fan, and a wire returning "to" the fan. The wire "from" the fan will be electrified, while the other wire will only be electrified when it's connected to the electrified wire through the switch.

Switch Loop

In a setup like this there's no neutral in the box, so you can't install a receptacle. If you replaced the cable between the fan and the switch, you could use a cable with an extra wire. That would allow you to included the required neutral.

  • It is possible that the fan in his case is wired up strangely such that the Hot black hooks directly to the fan in the ceiling and then the switch is providing the connection of the other side of the fan to the neutral in the ceiling. If this is the case then the description you gave would need a small bit of adjustment. IE the fan at the ceiling fixture would need a bit of re-wiring so that the hot wire from the ceiling is fed back down to the wall box and then the added neutral as yuou described provide the connections for the new wall outlet.
    – Michael Karas
    Sep 3, 2014 at 16:46
  • @MichaelKaras You're saying that they potentially switched the neutral?
    – Tester101
    Sep 3, 2014 at 16:49
  • Yes that is what I am saying could happen. I've seen it done more than one time.
    – Michael Karas
    Sep 4, 2014 at 3:06
  • 1
    If I covered every possible scenario in my answers, I'd have to write a book for each. Unless there's a reported problem, I have to assume the wiring was correct.
    – Tester101
    Sep 4, 2014 at 3:37
  • 1
    I agree with Tester. The likelihood that the neutral is switched is so minimal that IMO it's not even worth mentioning. Regardless, even if the neutral is switched it is still a switch loop and still CANNOT be used as it stands, even with swapping splices around. Sep 4, 2014 at 12:05

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