Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

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katmariemusic
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Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by katmariemusic » Fri Mar 29, 2019 7:25 pm

Hi folks!
I've been replacing all the switches in my house today (light switches, etc) and I came to do my bathroom switches and came into a little trouble.

I wasn't expecting it, but when I went to replace the bathroom fan switch in my bathroom, I found that it was controlled by a three-way switch. At first, I was confused as to why, but then I realized that I have a humidex in my home. So, I have the ability to set my humidex to a certain humidity percentage and if it goes over at percentage, the fans in all three of the bathrooms in my home switch on automatically.

Once I realized that the three-way switch for my bathroom fan was for my humidex, I went ahead and replaced my existing three-way switch with the new one.

I had a couple of problems at first where the fan would turn on even though the switch was in the off position or it wasn't powering on at all. Once I got it working (or so I thought), I was happy. I fan would turn on if you turned the fan into the on position and off when it was switched off.

Then I went upstairs and realized that my other two bathrooms had their fans running and I couldn't turn them off by flipping the switch. I made sure that the humidex was off, and the fans still continued to run in the bathrooms upstairs.

I realized later on today that when I went downstairs and turned the fan on in the bathroom downstairs, the two fans upstairs would turn off.

Any idea how I can fix this?

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emtnut
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by emtnut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:11 am

It isn't a 3 way switch ! It was a fan controller I would think.
That, or you would use a single pole switch in parallel with the humidisat (So if 'either' one is turned on, the fan goes on)

Do you still have the old switch ? Post a pic and or the model # would help.
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by katmariemusic » Sat Mar 30, 2019 10:03 am

emtnut wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:11 am
It isn't a 3 way switch ! It was a fan controller I would think.
That, or you would use a single pole switch in parallel with the humidisat (So if 'either' one is turned on, the fan goes on)

Do you still have the old switch ? Post a pic and or the model # would help.
Huh. I guess that didn't even occur to me. I thought that a switch, is a switch, is a switch. Here are a few photos of the switch that I removed. It just looked like a regular old 3-way switch to my untrained eyes.
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by emtnut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 10:46 am

katmariemusic wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 10:03 am
emtnut wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 9:11 am
It isn't a 3 way switch ! It was a fan controller I would think.
That, or you would use a single pole switch in parallel with the humidisat (So if 'either' one is turned on, the fan goes on)

Do you still have the old switch ? Post a pic and or the model # would help.
Huh. I guess that didn't even occur to me. I thought that a switch, is a switch, is a switch. Here are a few photos of the switch that I removed. It just looked like a regular old 3-way switch to my untrained eyes.
That is just a 3 way.
Any chance there were only 2 wires on it originally ?

Just to be sure, I take it that before you changed the switch, turning switch on turned on fan. If the switch was off, and you had high humidity, the fan would turn on itself, right ?

Also, are you 100% sure there isn't another 3 way switch somewhere ?
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by katmariemusic » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:13 am

emtnut wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 10:46 am
katmariemusic wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 10:03 am


Huh. I guess that didn't even occur to me. I thought that a switch, is a switch, is a switch. Here are a few photos of the switch that I removed. It just looked like a regular old 3-way switch to my untrained eyes.
That is just a 3 way.
Any chance there were only 2 wires on it originally ?

Just to be sure, I take it that before you changed the switch, turning switch on turned on fan. If the switch was off, and you had high humidity, the fan would turn on itself, right ?

Also, are you 100% sure there isn't another 3 way switch somewhere ?
I'm 100% sure there were three wires going to the old switch because I took a photo before I started pulling everything apart. I have that photo too if it's helpful to you?
Just to be sure, I take it that before you changed the switch, turning switch on turned on fan. If the switch was off, and you had high humidity, the fan would turn on itself, right ?
Yes! The above is correct too! (I'm so glad you're understanding what I'm saying.)

The only other 3-way switch I can think of being in the house would be the other two bathroom fan switches. Would the humidex not operate like a 3-way switch because I can turn the fans on and off from that place too?

((I also have two other sets of 3-way switches that strictly operate lights in my house, but I didn't think that would matter.))

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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by emtnut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:36 am

katmariemusic wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:13 am

I'm 100% sure there were three wires going to the old switch because I took a photo before I started pulling everything apart. I have that photo too if it's helpful to you?
Just to be sure, I take it that before you changed the switch, turning switch on turned on fan. If the switch was off, and you had high humidity, the fan would turn on itself, right ?
Yes! The above is correct too! (I'm so glad you're understanding what I'm saying.)

The only other 3-way switch I can think of being in the house would be the other two bathroom fan switches. Would the humidex not operate like a 3-way switch because I can turn the fans on and off from that place too?

((I also have two other sets of 3-way switches that strictly operate lights in my house, but I didn't think that would matter.))
OK, the humidistat has nothing to do with this. I think you just mixed up the common wire, and the travellers.
The common is usually Black, and it needs to go to the brass screw.
The other 2 wires go to the silver screws (usually a white and a red). Doesn't matter the order.

You said you have the before pic, so check which one was on the brass screw.

You can post the pic here if you're not sure.
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by katmariemusic » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:46 am

emtnut wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:36 am
katmariemusic wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:13 am

I'm 100% sure there were three wires going to the old switch because I took a photo before I started pulling everything apart. I have that photo too if it's helpful to you?



Yes! The above is correct too! (I'm so glad you're understanding what I'm saying.)

The only other 3-way switch I can think of being in the house would be the other two bathroom fan switches. Would the humidex not operate like a 3-way switch because I can turn the fans on and off from that place too?

((I also have two other sets of 3-way switches that strictly operate lights in my house, but I didn't think that would matter.))
OK, the humidistat has nothing to do with this. I think you just mixed up the common wire, and the travellers.
The common is usually Black, and it needs to go to the brass screw.
The other 2 wires go to the silver screws (usually a white and a red). Doesn't matter the order.

You said you have the before pic, so check which one was on the brass screw.

You can post the pic here if you're not sure.
That's where I get confused because that's what I thought too. But here's the photo I took before touching any of the wiring on the old switch. The black wire has been hooked up to one of the travellers because that's how it was on the old switch. And the switch appeared to be working fine before I starting trying to replace things.
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by emtnut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:55 am

katmariemusic wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:46 am
emtnut wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:36 am


OK, the humidistat has nothing to do with this. I think you just mixed up the common wire, and the travellers.
The common is usually Black, and it needs to go to the brass screw.
The other 2 wires go to the silver screws (usually a white and a red). Doesn't matter the order.

You said you have the before pic, so check which one was on the brass screw.

You can post the pic here if you're not sure.
That's where I get confused because that's what I thought too. But here's the photo I took before touching any of the wiring on the old switch. The black wire has been hooked up to one of the travellers because that's how it was on the old switch. And the switch appeared to be working fine before I starting trying to replace things.
OK, the red one is your common :mrgreen: . Since it's not working right, I think you just need to swap the 2 red wires ;)

Just a note, if the new switch has those 'push in' slots, don't use them ! They are a known hazard. If you happen to have any other switches out, change them to the screw terminals if they are like this (it's called backstabbing, and a hazard and common failure point)
Also, all screws should be tightened whether there is a wire on the connection or not.
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by katmariemusic » Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:57 am

emtnut wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:55 am
katmariemusic wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:46 am


That's where I get confused because that's what I thought too. But here's the photo I took before touching any of the wiring on the old switch. The black wire has been hooked up to one of the travellers because that's how it was on the old switch. And the switch appeared to be working fine before I starting trying to replace things.
OK, the red one is your common :mrgreen: . Since it's not working right, I think you just need to swap the 2 red wires ;)

Just a note, if the new switch has those 'push in' slots, don't use them ! They are a known hazard. If you happen to have any other switches out, change them to the screw terminals if they are like this (it's called backstabbing, and a hazard and common failure point)
Also, all screws should be tightened whether there is a wire on the connection or not.
I will give that a try!

And yes, I went ahead and installed all my switches using the screw terminals.

Thank you so much for all your help! :)

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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by emtnut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 12:03 pm

katmariemusic wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 11:57 am

And yes, I went ahead and installed all my switches using the screw terminals.
Good to hear :)

you're welcome, and let us know how it turns out !
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by katmariemusic » Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:53 pm

The problem bathroom has been fixed!

Thank you!

I'm now experiencing similar issues with the second bathroom that I'm trying to tackle. I anticipate that I'll experience the same issues with the third and final bathroom too. What on earth...?

I will keep swapping wires until I get the outcome I want, I guess...?

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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by emtnut » Sat Mar 30, 2019 5:23 pm

katmariemusic wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:53 pm
The problem bathroom has been fixed!

Thank you!

I'm now experiencing similar issues with the second bathroom that I'm trying to tackle. I anticipate that I'll experience the same issues with the third and final bathroom too. What on earth...?

I will keep swapping wires until I get the outcome I want, I guess...?
Glad its working now !

You should identify the wire that goes to the common (tape or marker on it). Then just make sure that it goes to the common on the new switch and you should be fine.
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by katmariemusic » Sat Mar 30, 2019 5:41 pm

emtnut wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 5:23 pm
katmariemusic wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 1:53 pm
The problem bathroom has been fixed!

Thank you!

I'm now experiencing similar issues with the second bathroom that I'm trying to tackle. I anticipate that I'll experience the same issues with the third and final bathroom too. What on earth...?

I will keep swapping wires until I get the outcome I want, I guess...?
Glad its working now !

You should identify the wire that goes to the common (tape or marker on it). Then just make sure that it goes to the common on the new switch and you should be fine.
Well, what I ended up doing this time around was disconnecting the common wire from the old switch (leaving everything else still connected) and then connecting it directly to the new switch. I did it that way because I (for some reason) couldn't find any tape in my house to mark the common wire. Then I disconnected the other two wires and connected them into the new switch.

I was shocked to find that when I turned the power back on, the fan was turning on in the off position and turning off in the on position. I almost installed the switch upside down but knew that wouldn't be right.

At this point, everything is working as it should... I don't know how. But it is...?

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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by Aaron » Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:49 am

Isn't Alberta where it's necessary to have a special bathroom fan requirement?

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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by emtnut » Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:27 pm

katmariemusic wrote:
Sat Mar 30, 2019 5:41 pm

Well, what I ended up doing this time around was disconnecting the common wire from the old switch (leaving everything else still connected) and then connecting it directly to the new switch. I did it that way because I (for some reason) couldn't find any tape in my house to mark the common wire. Then I disconnected the other two wires and connected them into the new switch.

I was shocked to find that when I turned the power back on, the fan was turning on in the off position and turning off in the on position. I almost installed the switch upside down but knew that wouldn't be right.

At this point, everything is working as it should... I don't know how. But it is...?
If the switch is 'upside down' , you can just turn it around or swap the 2 travelers. There is no on off markings on a 3 way switch, so that would be easiest if there is enough slack on the wires.
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by emtnut » Sun Mar 31, 2019 12:31 pm

Aaron wrote:
Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:49 am
Isn't Alberta where it's necessary to have a special bathroom fan requirement?
Alberta requires a furnace interconnect. I think that turns on the exhaust fans when the furnace is running (I guess to account for the fresh air intake on the furnace)

Here in Ontario, you need a master switch to manually turn on the bath and kitchen fans.(Normally they put it beside the thermostat)

I don't do new house construction, so I've only seen a few of them in friends houses. The one thing that is consistent is that none of the people I talked to that have that switch know what it's for :lol:

Thanks Mr Gob't :mrgreen:
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by Aaron » Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:39 pm

Wow, you Canucks have some funky requirements! A lot of more modern homes here in the U.S. have air exchangers which probably accomplish similar goals. As the furnace fan kicks on, an air exchanger brings fresh air from outside in.

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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by emtnut » Mon Apr 01, 2019 9:54 am

Aaron wrote:
Sun Mar 31, 2019 9:39 pm
Wow, you Canucks have some funky requirements! A lot of more modern homes here in the U.S. have air exchangers which probably accomplish similar goals. As the furnace fan kicks on, an air exchanger brings fresh air from outside in.
I see a lot of new homes with the HRVs here as well. I'm not sure if building code says you still need the furnace interconnect if you have the HRV ??

I did read something awhile ago about poor air circulation in most bathrooms, so that might be the reason for the exhaust vent interconnect ??
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Re: Three Way Bathroom Fan Switch?

Post by Aaron » Tue Apr 02, 2019 9:59 am

HRV, I've never heard that abbreviation before. That must be what it's called in the industry. They've become very necessary when you have vapor-tight houses.

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