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Thread: Bathroom Remodel Wiring Question

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member XmagooX's Avatar
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    Default Bathroom Remodel Wiring Question

    I am in the process of remodeling my bathroom, and am working on the electrical. All of the walls are open, so access is good if I need to run new cable. There are two circuits in the bathroom, one 15A that powers the fan/light combo, the other is a 20A that powers the outlets and ceiling light. I have a single gang, double switch on the 20A circuit. The upper switch controls the light on the ceiling. The lower switch used to control the light on the light/fan combo, but Iíve rewired the light/fan unit so the light and fan are on the same circuit (didnít use to be). Now Iíd like to use the lower switch to control two wall sconces. There are 2 wires coming in to the switch, red is line, black is load to the ceiling light. There is also 12/2 romex, black is load for the bottom switch; the white is not connected and is capped off. Can I use the bottom switch for my sconces? Will I need to run additional cables, or connect to the existing light or outlets for the neutral?

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    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    More info needed! You do not describe how your fixtures are receiving their neutral connection. I don't understand why you
    would ask if your new sconces may need additional wiring. How would they work if they had no wiring run to them? I also
    don't understand why you describe the old wires/cable that ran from the switch box to the fan light. Presumably it would all be abandoned and
    capped off. You can certainly use the bottom switch for controlling the sconces, provided proper wires are run. Is there knob-and-tube
    wiring involved, or is it all in modern 2 and 3 conductor cable?

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member XmagooX's Avatar
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    No knob and tube, all modern wiring. I removed the wiring downstream of the switch that lead to the fan light, but still have the switch and the load which now goes nowhere. I figured if I just said I have a switch that doesn't control anything right now, I would get questions, so that's why I mentioned that it previously controlled the fan light.
    There are several neutral wires in the junction box at the ceiling light, one goes to the light, one goes to an outlet. It appears this is where the neutral is coming from. I think I can just tap off the neutral in that junction box to the white wire on my sconce, and then the load from the switch goes to the black wire on the sconce. If that's right, do I just add a 12/2 wire to the junction box and only use the white and cap off the black?

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    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    Sorry, I can't make any sense of your description, you seem to be contradicting yourself. Maybe you should make and post a diagram of which cables enter and leave
    the switch box and the sconce outlet boxes. You cannot use a single wire in a 2 or 3 wire cable, the current in one wire must be balanced by opposite current in another in
    the same cable. If your existing wiring was used that way, then it is an error that should be corrected.

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member XmagooX's Avatar
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    Here is a wiring diagram of what I have. The box where the ceiling light mounts is a junction box. If I connect the black wire from the sconce to the lower switch, then I still need a neutral to come into the white wire on the sconce. Can I just run a white wire from the junction box to the sconce (or use a 12/2 but cap off the black and just connect the white)?
    Name:  Bathroom Circuit Diagram-pic1.jpg
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  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member XmagooX's Avatar
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    If I run a 12/2 cable from sconce box #1 to the ceiling junction box, connect the white to the existing whites and the black to the black coming from the switch. Then run another 12/2 between sconce box #1 and sconce box #2, pigtail blacks to blacks, whites to whites in box 1, connect to sconce in box 2. Will this work?
    Name:  Bathroom Circuit Diagram-pic2.jpg
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    The two switches are independent...you need power on the other side of the switch so when it is on, it can get to the sconces. Take the red lead off, then put a couple of pigtails on that lead and attach one to each supply side (left of your diagram) of the switches.

    It might be possible that the switch has a jumper between the two screws on the left side, if so, then what you have will work.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by XmagooX View Post
    I All of the walls are open, so access is good if I need to run new cable.
    What you need to do if the wall is open is replace the cable that has the red and blue wires (colors from your drawing) with a three conductor cable. What you have drawn could cause heat in the conductor for the wall lights.

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    DIY Junior Member XmagooX's Avatar
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    Jim, there is a tab on the side of the switch that hasn't been removed, so the red wire is providing power to both switches.

    JW, is this the routing you are proposing with the new 3-wire cable? Unfortunately, the blue and red wires are running inside of a metal conduit, so they would be the most difficult to replace, even though the walls are open. I guess I don't understand the issue with the heating of the wires. This switch used to control the light on the fan/light combo, and the neutral was capped off in the switch box and neutral for the light came from the ceiling light junction box. Are you saying it was dangerous before?
    Name:  Bathroom Circuit Diagram-pic3.jpg
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  10. #10
    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    Take your 12/2 from the switch box straight to the first sconce, instead of to the ceiling light. Remove the 12/2 you have drawn going from the
    first sconce to the ceiling light. That should do it.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member XmagooX's Avatar
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    kreemoweet, are you referring to my most recent schematic? Because the 12/2 that is currently in the switch box has the neutral capped off, so if I run that to my first sconce instead of the ceiling light, the neutral won't go anywhere. Your comment only works if I replace the existing red and blue with a 12/3. Is there any way to make this work without replacing the red and blue with a new 12/3? The red and blue are running in metal conduit and are difficult to access.

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    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    If it is installed in pipe then simply add another wire in the pipe.

    All you need going from the ceiling to the switch is one supply and two switch legs. However you decide to make the installation ALL conductors MUST be in the same raceway or cable or you will end up with heating.

  13. #13
    Electrical Contractor Jim Port's Avatar
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    You will have a hard time fitting all those connections in the tiny junction box on the fan/light.

  14. #14
    DIY Senior Member kreemoweet's Avatar
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    Yes, I was referring to your last schematic. There are no capped off neutrals in that one. You did not mention you had conduit before! Your diagram shows only 12/3 and 12/2
    cable. Alternatively, you can just have the 3 wires (in conduit) from switch box ceiling box, and run 12/2 from ceiling box to 1st sconce box, and on to 2nd sconce. Since it seems
    you already have the 3 wires in conduit, just reidentify (re-color with tape, etc.) the capped-off neutral and use it as a switch leg return. That way, you avoid cramping
    your wires in the switch box, as J. Port mentioned.

  15. #15
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kreemoweet View Post
    Ye just reidentify (re-color with tape, etc.) the capped-off neutral and use it as a switch leg return. That way, you avoid cramping
    your wires in the switch box, as J. Port mentioned.
    Can't reidentify a conductor installed in conduit.

    He said that there was a ceiling light in addition to the fan ligh combo and I assumed that all the joints was taking place in this lighting outlet instead of the fan/light.

    He could remove the conduit and replace it with a three conductor cable and then reidentify the white conductor and this would be what I would do.

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