Ceiling Fan and locating existing wire

Old 11-20-03, 04:35 PM
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Ceiling Fan and locating existing wire

Here is the issue. I have a ceiling fan I want to put up. I have installed a few before but the electric wires have always been exposed already. I know that in the ceiling there are some wires I could use, there is a light switch by the door that turns on some lights across the room. So my guess is that they run almost straight across the ceiling. So how to I find them? And when I do how to repair the damage to the ceiling? I am not a drywall specialist, my guess I will find the wire, cut a big hole, tap the wire for the ceiling fan. And that is where I am stuck. How do I fix the hole so that no one can tell what I did. Still not sure if I can pull this off but it is worth a shot.
Old 11-20-03, 05:09 PM
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There is no sure-fire method. The cable might go through the wall rather than across the ceiling. I recommend you spend $15 on a voltage "tick" tester available at Home Depot and other home centers. You can hold it up to a cable in the attic. If it is live, it will chirp and flash. Someone below can turn the switch on and off and you can see if it stops chirping when the switch is turned off.

You might save yourself a bit of trouble by checking the wiring at the switch first. If there is a white wire attached to the switch, then this is a switch loop and you cannot tap into the cable going to it. Also make sure that this isn't a 3-way or 4-way switch.

There are hundreds of ways to do this wrong, so be sure.
Old 11-20-03, 06:17 PM
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No one says you need to be a specialist to repair sheetrock, but having a clue & some ability is necessary. You need some tools, but not alot.

I have to say your idea on how to do this project is not a good way. You are assuming that the wire is right where you need it when in actuality I'd almost guarantee it's not. Also there is almost certainly not enough slack to splice into it. Also doing it the way you intend the fan and lights will all come on together.

I am assuming since you say you need to cut the ceiling this is between floors. If so there is no clean way to do it and you will have several holes to patch.
I would find out if the feed is in the wall box. It probably is since it is switching lights in the room. Often switched receptacles don't have a neutral at the switch box since for some it's easier to run a switch loop to the switch box to control the receptacles....OK, I'm getting too complicated.
If you have a 120volt feed in the wall box I would run a wire, the same guage as what's in there, from there to the ceiling for the fan. You can get a combination dimmer/fan switch at a supply house or a big box store. This will fit into a single gang box so you can control the fan and light separately.

You will need to cut the wall above the switch and also any joists in the way in the ceiling. You will have to cut next to the joist and then drill it for the wire to pass through. They need to be drilled at least 1 1/2" from teh edge. Then I would use a "pancake" fan box screwed right to the joist bottom.

If you go to a store you will see all the things I am referring to and maybe it will be clearer.
Old 11-21-03, 07:55 AM
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Attic access?

Do you have attic access? I had almost the same situation except I had to tap off of existing circuitry. By doing this, I traced some circuit paths in the attic and when I was about 95% sure I was on the right circuit, went to home depot and bought a $10 circuit tester and started hitting breaker switches until I was 100% sure the circuit was the right one to tap off of.
Use all safety precautions. House current can kill you under the right circumstances.

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