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Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 2
Junior Member
Hi Guys,

I have a ~200 year old house that has seen its share of electrical work done by the unwise and unknowing. I'm slowly trying to get the ship righted again. Funny (sad, really) that all the bad work was done by contractors/carpenters-as-electricians, as commiserated in other threads here.

Task 1- The bathroom heat-a-ventlite, as immortalized in 1 3-page thread here in 2001.

It's a 4-function nutone- heat, vent, light, nightlight. But it was installed by a plumber during a bathroom remodel, so shortcuts were taken.

The fixture is fed from two switch locations- a single switch for the main light, and a 3-switch box for the other functions (which is behind the door when it's opened, which explains why all four functions weren't moved there).

Props to the plumber; at least he pulled a new home run for the 3 new functions. But here's how it's wired: The fixture has only two neutrals in the wiring box- one for the vent, and the other for the heat/light/nighlight. So there's one romex 12/3 and one romex 12/2 from the new switch, and the existing old wire (12(?)/2) from the old switch. Each hot goes to the proper spot, with all five neturals tied together. The big rub here is that the light switch is (of course) on a different circuit than the other three functions, and this circuit (light) also has the bath outlets & sconces and two bedrooms worth of outlets on it.

So, we have the obvious problem of unmatched neutrals, which becomes crucial because I tried to install an AFCI breaker on the lighting circuit, and a GFCI breaker on the heat/vent/nightlight circuit (for no other reason than that this is oftentimes used to switch between vent and heat by someone in the shower). Now, of course, with the parallel netural paths, neither of these breakers will hold at all- they pop as soon as I switch them on.

Now the question begs: without opening walls, what's the best way to fix this? Is there a best way that's also compliant? The two things I can come up with are:

1) Rewiring the fixture so that the neutral for the light is isolated, and the other three go through the shared netural

2) Running unswitched hot on one of the white (formerly neutral) wires from the 3-gang switch to the fixture, tie to the white (formerly neutral) of the light switch, rewire that light switch so the white is on the line side with black on the load side , and tie that black in the fixture to the proper load wire.

From reading here, methinks I lose the listing on the fixture doing #1, and I lose NEC by doing #2.

But that's all I can come up with, short of opening the walls, which would result in a code sanction know as 'divorce'. Any advice? Thanks!

[This message has been edited by buckyswider (edited 01-12-2004).]

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 680
I just bought a Nutone, heat vent light unit. Haven't really looked to close at the instruction but I believe it only required 1 20 amp circuit for all functions?? I don't see why you need 2 neutrals if my interpertation of the instructions is correct.

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 680

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,389
nice pdf Walrus, he's got one more item though, the fan.

don't you just love it when the fan and heat are on at the same time too....

'permanently' remarking one white noodle is what would probably happen

drill a #12 size hole in a marker that says 'permanent' on it and pass the wire through this

btw~ we've had lengthly threads consider this as appropo here

good luck


Joined: Jun 2001
Posts: 642
If you are not sure or understand this post-- Get a Licensed electrician to do the work

If you can identify which white wire is in which wire pull, this should be a fix.
disconnect all the joints in the fan lite assy and sw boxes.
Hook up from the old sw the hot and neutral from that sw to the nite lite.
Hook up the heat on the 12-2G romex hot and neutral from 1 sw in the new 3 sw box.
Use the black and red of the 12-3G for the lite and fan respectivly, tie these neutrals together in the lite assy to the 12-3 neutral.
In the sw boxes make sure the hot and neutral feeding the sw box are pigtailed as needed to get power to the correct places.
By using the old box for your nite lite, you can have enough light to see to close the door and use the bathroom. If you want more functions after the door is closed they are availble then. Or you can swap the nite and main lite function above. There is no code reason to make either choice.
Again if you do not understand this or cannot identify which white wire is which I strongly recommend a licensed electrician in your area.

[This message has been edited by nesparky (edited 01-13-2004).]


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