Wiring fan switch to the load side of GFCI outlet question.

janesylviaJanuary 4, 2007

An HVAC contractor installed an exhaust fan right above the tub in my master bathroom. He did not make the fan protected by GFCI circuit. I aked him to wire the fan switch to the load side of the GFCI outlet. Finally he came back today and did the work. It took him 2 hours.

Now when I run test on the GFCI outlet. The fan's electricity goes out. That's right. But I found my master bedroom's electricity also goes out!! When I reset the GFCI outlet, all the electricity in the master bathroom and bedroom comes back. I had expected that the GFCI outlet testing can only make the electricity in the masterbathroom go out instead of also the master bedroom.

I can live with it. But I am just curious if this is the normal result after the exhaust fan being wired from the load side of the GFCI outlet.

Thank you very much.

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jason1083

the bedroom is also downstream of the GFCI.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 3:33AM
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rjoh878646

The bedroom is also on the load side of the GFCI outlet.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 10:22AM
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janesylvia

Thank you very much for your help.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 12:10PM
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kurto

Generally speaking, it is best not to have motors on GFCI circuits due to nuisance trips (like you are experiencing). Was there a particular reason that you requested this change?

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 12:37PM
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janesylvia

Thank you for your response. The newly installed fan is right above the tub and close to the shower head. The fan instruction requires that the fan needs to be on the GFCI protected branch of circuit if it's installed above the bathtub.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 2:00PM
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DavidR

The circuit that serves the bathroom receptacle isn't allowed to also serve a bedroom, is it?

Perhaps that code requirement wasn't in effect when your house was built. I wonder if this modification to the wiring triggers the requirement that current codes be met.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 6:58PM
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janesylvia

Thank you for your response. My house was built in 1970. I am living in South San Francisco bay area. The HVAC contractor originally did not wire the load side of GFCI receptable to the fan switch. So when I ran test on the GFCI receptable, just the electricity of the recepatable went out. The fan, the bathroom light, and the bedroom electricity were not affected.

With my request and according to the installation requirement, he wired the load side of the GFCI receptable to the fan switch. Now the test on the GFCI outlet makes all the electricity in both master bathroom and bedroom all go out.

I don't know anything about electricity. I will get a book from Amazon.com to get some knowledge about it.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 7:34PM
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DavidR

Sounds like he wired the fan to the bedroom circuit. Then when you asked him to change it, he moved the whole mess over to the load side of the GFI.

I think you have a code violation there, and a practical problem too - hair dryers use a lot of energy, and shouldn't have to share with a bedroom circuit.

For a basic wiring book, I recommend Wiring Simplified. It also has a chapter on basic electrical principles.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 8:38PM
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janesylvia

Thank you very much for your help. Yes, you are right. It does sound like that he wired the fan to the master bedroom circuit and now moved the whole mess to the load side of GFI.

I don't think he'll come back and redo the work. I waited him for more than 15 days before he came back and wired the fan switch to the load side of GFI. His expression told me he was very unhappy to come back and do the work. Although I paid him $1000 just for the labor of installing one fan and replacing another fan, material fees are separate. And no drywall repairment at all. I'll spend another $1400 for repairment of the drywall cut by the HVAC contractor for the fan installation and replacement.

The circuit on the main panel that controls master bathroom also controls master bedroom, hallway, hallway bathroom, and another bedroom. So I think instead of putting a GFCI breaker on the main panel, it's better to wire the fan switch to the load side of GFI. But I did not expect it also affects the electricity in the master bedroom. I may have another electrician to fix it in the future after the drywall is repaired. Is it a big electric job?

Thank you veru much for your recommendation of a good book. I'll buy and read it.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 9:52PM
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DavidR

My house was built in 1970.

I don't recall when the code requirement for bathroom circuits originated. Anybody else know?

The circuit on the main panel that controls master bathroom also controls master bedroom, hallway, hallway bathroom, and another bedroom.

That's a fair bit for one circuit, even if the code didn't require separate bath circuits in 1970. Was it that way before the fan installation and/or wiring change?

I may have another electrician to fix it in the future after the drywall is repaired. Is it a big electric job?

It's almost impossible to tell how big a job it is without looking at it. It's likely to require fishing new homeruns to your main panel, which is usually significant effort.

You know what they say about hindsight, but you might have been better off to have fitted a GFI breaker to the panel on the circuit which USED to supply the new fan.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2007 at 11:11PM
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