Converting a combo swithc/outlet to a GFCI regular outlet

MikedpgaJanuary 31, 2013

Hi,

I need help converting a combo switch/outlet that currently runs the fan part of a fan/light in the bathroom that I no longer need with a new GFCI regular duplex outlet.

The reason I don't need the fan switch anymore, is because there is another switch that turns the same fan/light on together that I will only be using

If this is possible for me to do, I then would like to add another outlet off of this one and put it in the cabinet underneath.

I have included a few pictures to help understand my scenario.

Thank you allfor your help!!

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Ron Natalie

Take the wires running to the bottom side of the combo (the ones going to the receptacle, and connect those to the new GFCI (if the circuit is already GFCI protected as it ought to be, you may not eve need (another) GFCI here.

The wires going to the top switch part may need to be twisted together or capped off depending on what is going on.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 12:32PM
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Mikedpga

Thanks Ron,

Makes sense. Can I try twisting the two top black (hot) wires together and see if that does what I want it to do? Not have the fan on, and have two working outlets.

What do you mean by might have to cap them off if twisting them together didn't work?

Thanks,

Mike

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 1:16PM
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djlandkpl

The top two black wires supplied power to the fan. You said that the fan is controlled by another switch now so those wires should be dead. To play it safe, twist the wires together and put a wire nut on it.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 4:05PM
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Mikedpga

Ok, I will try twisting the top black wires together, then connecting the rest as ron stated. We think this should work? No risk of danger?

There has always been two switches and the combo switch/outlet in bath room. One switch for a light over the sink and vanity, and one switch turns on both the fan and light of the fan/light. The combo outlet does only the fan part of the fan/light. That is what I want to eliminate.

Thanks guys!,

    Bookmark   January 31, 2013 at 4:32PM
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greg_2010

Did the switch on the combo device only turn the fan on/off if the other switch was already on? Or did it control the fan no matter what position the light/fan switch was in?

I'm having trouble picturing the current setup.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 8:44AM
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Mikedpga

Hi Greg,

The two switches work independently. The combo switch controls only the fan function of the fan/light and the other switch turns both the fan and light on together.

But both switches do not have to be on for either to work. For instance, the fan only combo switch turns on the fan, then if I flip the other switch, the light goes on and fan seems to work better/stronger/louder. Kinda weird.

But if the fan only combo switch and light/fan switch are on, I can't shut it off with the combo switch. So it seems to me like that switch is really only there to be used if I want the fan on and the light off. Which I do not need.

Should I try twisting the top black wires together and using the bottom wires to connect new outlet?

Thanks for the help!!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:28AM
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djlandkpl

Whoa. It sounds like the fan is wired to two switches and it shouldn't be. Who installed the fan? Was this a recent change?

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 9:44AM
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Mikedpga

Bought the house this way.

The combo switches main purpose is to turn the fan only on, and the other turns the fan and light on. It's one of those fan and light combination fixtures. So the previous owner had the option to turn either fan only, or fan and light on.

Can I remove the outlet and replace with another one? I haven't tried anything yet. Just want to disconnect and disable the fan switch on the combo outlet. I can take more pics to help understand wires and such.

Thanks!!

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:25AM
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djlandkpl

Given your answer to Greg's question I would not twist the two black wires together.

Ideally, if you have access to the wiring for the fan, take some detailed pictures. Sounds to me like the fan is wired with two hot wires.

If you can't get to the fan:
(Goes without saying, turn the power off at the circuit panel when you do this.)

Disconnect the two black wires from the top of the combo and put wire nuts on the exposed ends. Turn the power back on and see if the fan works with the other switch.

If the fan works then you are good to go. At least 1 if not both of the black wires that are disconnected from the combo are likely live. If you have an electrical tester you can determine if one or both is live. Keep them capped and put them back in the box when you install the GFCI outlet.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 10:59AM
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greg_2010

For instance, the fan only combo switch turns on the fan, then if I flip the other switch, the light goes on and fan seems to work better/stronger/louder.

I think there is something really screwy with your current setup. The fan going faster is the part that really concerns me. In order to figure this out, you'll have to map out exactly where everything is coming from and going to with regards to the light, fan, and 2 switches. The previous owner really messed it up.

If you don't feel up to it, I would strongly suggest hiring an electrician.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2013 at 3:01PM
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