Electrical problem w/ bath exhaust fan?

mycatzOctober 8, 2008

Hoping someone can help me with this. We had a bath remodel done less than a year ago. In the old bath, one switch turned on the fan only and the other switch turned on the light fixture over the sink. With the remodel, we had 3 recessed lights installed which are on one switch. The second switch turns on the bath fan directly over the tub.

Another switch was added to turn on the lights over the sink and 2 outlets were installed. Problem is, the fan is either not working properly and due to too much moisture, the electric cuts off for the fan and lights over the sink. Both outlets are also on this circuit. I know it is on a GFIC(do I have that right??) Yesterday I actually saw a few drips of water come down from the fan after a shower. The electric had gone off for the fan in the middle of the shower also. Does this sound like improper venting? Faulty fan? Or some kind of problem w/ electric? Thanks for any help!

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There is really no way to know the answer unless you are there to troubleshoot. If the installer can't fix it, it sounds like that they are unqualified to do this type of work. Maybe you got your moneys worth, as in they did it for free with a double your money back guarentee. It may be time to get some qualified help. Sorry for the tone of the reply but your problem was created by the installer.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 7:30AM
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My first guess would be that moisture collecting in the fan housing is causing the GFCI to trip.
Did this just start to occur, or has it been tripping all along?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:26AM
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"your problem was created by the installer."

I disagree, there is no way for you to tell that it was the installer's fault. This issue could be a loose connection somewhere, or faulty equipment, or any number of things.

I would first check to see if that model of fan can be installed in the manner and location that it is. If it can then it should defiantly be GFCI protected since you could actually see water dripping off of it. You'll be able to service the fan from below, I suggest check for loose connections first, both there and at the switch.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 8:31AM
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We are electricians in Dallas, and very simply we NEVER install a fan or fan & light directly over a bathtub or shower. NEVER! The OP even allowed as how moisture was dripping from the fan. The purpose of an exhaust fan is to remove moisture and smell from a bath. It does this function best when the fan is installed more in the center of the room.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 9:18AM
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Thanks for all the quick replies. Randy427-This has happened intermittenly ever since the install. I'd say once a month on average. Would always happen in the morning after the 2nd back-to-back shower. I even keep the window open during my shower to try and avoid it. The fan is a Broan unit, model QTR140. It says it is acceptable for use over a tub or shower when connected to a GFCI. All I know is we never had any problem when we had a fan in the middle of the ceiling before.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2008 at 12:17PM
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Inside the fan cover, you will probably find the fan motor is plugged into a single outlet in the housing. I suspect moisture is creating a high-resistance short to ground at the plug. Wiping accumulated dust away from this area may impede the short from developing. You may also be able to wrap the base of the plug with electrical tape in such a away that will keep water out.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2008 at 9:12AM
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To randy427-Just wanted to let you know that we tried your tip w/ the electrical tape and so far it seems to be working! We taped around the plug and also at the other end where the wires were attached to the housing. The fan has stayed on and is working fine so far. Keeping my fingers crossed, thanks so much for the help!!

    Bookmark   October 22, 2008 at 8:19PM
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Thanks for the follow up on that.

Resurrecting an earlier post I will try a dielectric grease to waterproof and seal the plug for the fan motor.

I have the same fan with exactly the same problem of it intermittently tripping the GFCI. I've discovered it is due to moisture from long showers even though my fan is located over commode and not in shower.

I thought I had it fixed initially by wiring it on the line side (instead of load) of the GFCI. That worked for a while. Then it started tripping again. I found I had a wire that was broken at the single pole light switch in same box as fan switch. Repaired that and it worked for a while again.

I do not see any moisture at the ceiling fan intake. Levitron (the GFCI mfr) says that tying together the neutrals can cause this too. My neutrals for the fan, vanity ceiling lights, and GFCI are tied together.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2013 at 6:48PM
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"My neutrals for the fan, vanity ceiling lights, and GFCI are tied together. "

The LOAD side lines of a GFCI need to be treated as a separate circuit.
Neither the hot nor neutral should be connected to any other circuit.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 9:25AM
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Brickeye thanks. For the record my statement on the neutrals all being tied together was incorrect. The load side of my GFCI feeds a protected outlet in that bath while that outlet feeds two protected GFCI outlets in a downstream master bath. The line side of the first GFCI is multipled to feed a fan and a ceiling light, and those neutrals on the line side (not load) are tied together. Nothing coming off the load side is multipled to non-protected devices.

BTW the use of dielectric grease on that Broan QTR140 exhaust fan motor connector seems to have fixed the problem if their was leakage to ground. I still do not understand how moisture on what is now an unprotected fan (multipled on line not load side) causes the GFCI to trip. The load side is an entirely separate circuit.

My original thread on this below is confusing because the tripping problem caused by the fan seemed to be fixed several times only to re-occur. Sealing the connector on the fan seems to be a cure for now. I wanted to tie up loose ends for others on these forums if appropriate.

Here is a link that might be useful: Original thread on this

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 4:11PM
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