Need a review of existing ceiling fan wiring

HrenMarch 31, 2012

Hello folks! I'm hoping you all can help me understand the wiring of a c.1980s ceiling fan in our c.1907 house.

This is how the fan was wired when we got here. It sort of works. But I'm pretty sure it isn't wired quite right. I'm asking here because I know you folks know more than I do!

The lights work fine with the pull chain. The fan goes on when we flip the switch, but it labors and makes a horrible grinding sound. The second pull chain switches the fan speeds, but the lowest speed sometimes doesn't work. (The fan blades don't spin, that is.)

Personally, I don't think the hot and neutral from two separate sources should be wired to the blue light kit wire there in the center. But that's how it's set up. Is this just bonkers? Could this account for the poor functioning of the fan? Or is this all a-ok?

Here is a link that might be useful: ceiling fan wiring mock up

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Hren

let's see if I can get the image to show up in the posting this time!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 7:43PM
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btharmy

The cable on the left is most likely the feed. The cable on the right goes to the switch. So, you should have power all the time to the light (blue wire) and the switch via the white conductor in the cable on the right. The fan is then controled by the switch via the black conductor in the cable on the right. It is wired correctly. Sounds to me like it is time for a new fan.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 9:00PM
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Hren

I'm so glad other people know more about this than I know. Because I'm still mind-boggled when I've got more than just one source/switch.

Thanks for the info on this being correct. We did just install a regular wall switch in place of a dimmer switch. Yeah, a dimmer switch to control a fan. So, you know, that might be what killed that fan.

Followup-question! We're considering switching to a fan with no light kit. If we go that route, can I just put wire caps on the source wires, and connect the switch wires to the fan? Or is it more proper to cap the switch wires, and use the source wires to power the fan?

    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 11:01PM
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hendricus

I'm still mind-boggled when I've got more than just one source/switch.

You only have one source, the cable on the left, the left cable feeds the one on the right to the switch through the white wire and returns the power to the fan/light on the black wire. The white on the left cable returns to the circuit breaker.

Follow-up answer: Eliminate only the blue wire, keep all three wire nuts and label all connections when you do change fans.
White from source to fan.
Black from source to white from switch.
Black from switch to fan.
You have one source and one switch loop.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 1:37AM
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Hren

Thank you, hendricus. I think I'm starting to get it now; the power isn't so much coming IN from the switch. It's that a switch has been added to the situation, powered by the same source, but allowing me to interrupt or continue power to the fan. Would that be correct?

Considering that two weeks ago was the first time I ever even looked at anything electrical, I'm feeling quite proud that I might be understanding any of this.

Following on from your instructions on changing to a no-light fan... your solution would keep the switch functioning. We were assuming we'd just use the fan's pull strings. Is there an electrical reason to prefer one over the other? Our reason is that the light switch is in a less convenient spot than the fan's pull strings.

If we were to stop using the light switch, what would be your recommendation on wiring then?

(Actually, what I'd love to do is use the light switch to control an outlet, so we could control the floor lamp with that switch. But I believe that would require some in-the-walls wire switcharoos that I'm just not ready to attempt!)

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 10:13AM
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hendricus

Correct.

You can leave the switch in the loop and just leave it on and use the pull strings to control the fan.

Label the cables as source and switch. The left cable will feed the fan, white to white and black to black. place wire nuts on the wires in the switch cable.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 6:14PM
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