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1950's house only 2 wires from fan/light combo to double switch

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Oct 09, 2013, 07:22 PM
1950's house only 2 wires from fan/light combo to double switch
Had to replace dry wall and part of a shower in one of the bathrooms due to sewer line issue.
decided to replace the ugly old yellowish switches with new ones while we were at it.
There was a double panel with 3 switches. 1 single pole that operated the vanity lights and a double switch that operated the light/vent. the the vanity light switch was vertical the double switch had sideways switches.
For wires there is the white and black that is the power and neutral, a white an black from the vanity light... but only 2 wires (one white one black) from the light/vent.
This completely puzzles me as we were able to operate the light and vent separately.
My fear is that the previous owners or the owners before them used the black wire has a hot to the light and the white as a hot to the fan with no neutral - that is the only way I can see for the light and fan to be turned on and off separately.

Unfortunately while the power was off and they were tearing down the sheet rock and tile the plumbers undid the wiring before I could see the original.

any thoughts or help would be appreciated.
Oct 10, 2013, 08:35 AM
Not that this will be of great help but call the plumbing company and talk to the owner and describe your problem that THEY created. Ask them as to what they are going to do to fix the problem. I doubt if the contract allowed for them to disassemble current wiring. {But do you want plumbers to perform wiring, as this may not meet your local building codes} But when a wall is opened all wiring present must be upgraded to present NEC codes. And that would not be the plumbers problem, but yours. Good luck..
But if you are confident in your electrical abilities the tried and true method of just wiring different set ups till you have your system operating correctly is on the table. You can use a white wire for a switch leg if you tape the wire any color other than white, grey or green. Or use a Sharpie to change the jacket color. Good luck if you go that route as well.
But not having a neutral present at the fan/light does not sound correct so we may be missing something here.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: CommonwealthSparky,

Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...
Oct 10, 2013, 11:46 AM
only thing I can think of is the wire's neutral goes to the light and fan in the ceiling box... but that does not take into account you don't have a feed for three wires... hot supply, and returns off the switches for both devices.

any way you look at it, there is either a cable stuffed up the wall, or they chopped something. you are going to have to take off some drywall and fix it.

and the plumbers should get a letter from the electrical inspector requiring them to fix it on their own dime.

sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Oct 10, 2013, 04:54 PM
On second though a phone call to the plumber[s] might be of little help. Most often you will not have anyone stepping up to the plate and admit a mistake was made. Most often someone just passing the buck. Good luck just the same.

Popeye only reached for the Spinach can as a last resort...