Changing a bathroom fan to timer switch.


I have hot line coming in first to the gfci electric outlet. Next to it there is a standard light switch for the 60 watt light bulb light built in to the bathroom fan. Next to that is another standard light switch to turn on the bathroom fan.

When we moved in I put in the new gfci electric outlet because it is over the bathroom counter. Everything has worked fine for more than a year. Then I decided we ought to put a timer on the bathroom fan, so I bought a switch from the hardware store, it has a 1 hour timer. The switch has an attached ground wire and two slots to slide in the hot and white wires and then tighten them down.

What I tried was to connect both the fan and light with the timer switch. I installed the switch as I thought it should be. But I must have done something wrong because without the plate in place I had the phone on communicating with my daughter as she turned on the electric panel and after resetting the gfci and then turning the dial of the timer switch there was a small amount of smoke and i told her to turn off the power.  The hot wire for timer switch box was getting too hot and smoked as some of the insulation turned grey from black.

Is the problem that the switch cannot be used for both the light and the fan? Or did I do something wrong in the configuration of the hot and neutral wires?

I took out the timer switch and removed the hot and white wire and ground that ran between the switch and gfci outlet so we are without fan, nor light.  The bathroom is fully lighted above both vanities so it isn’t a big deal right now.  I capped off each of the four wires running to the fan and light and the plate is back in place until I figure out what I am doing wrong.

Thanks for listening.




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Santiago Espana 3 years 4 Answers 658 views

Answers ( 4 )

  1. Oh god yes. Those instructions are just showing you how the circuit works, that’s all. Line and load are all you need to know about.

    The line is the power coming in and the load is whatever is connected to it. In your case, it’s the fan or fan and light

  2. I can’t find instructions on this timer but I can tell you that you do not use the neutral at all on this. Key word here “Spring wound”

  3. I have to step out for a few. When I get back I’ll figure it out for you.

  4. The switch may not be rated to pull from both light and fan. But I wouldn’t think that’s the issue. On any other switch, a neutral is never connected to the switch. But depending your switch it could. But I’m thinking not. What switch did you get?

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