installing ceiling fan in 1888 house - old wiring

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  #1  
Old 08-19-05, 01:04 PM
posegate
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installing ceiling fan in 1888 house - old wiring

I'm installing a ceiling fan in a room in my 1888 Victorian and I've stopped. The electrical line in the ceiling is just 2 black wires, no ground. From my ceiling fan I have a black wire, a white wire, and a green.

On top of this, I am doing this while there is no power going to the room-- at all. The breaker box has been shut down due to a recent fire.

How do I know which wire to connect where?

I don't want the power to come on next week and my new ceiling fan explode and cause another fire.

Thanks for any expert help!

Adam
 
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Old 08-19-05, 01:17 PM
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I hope that wasn't an electrical fire...

You need to determine which of the black wires is the neutral and which is the hot. The green will remain unconnected. When you do determine which is which, the black wire from the fan connects to the hot, and the white from the fan connects to the neutral.

It may be difficult to determine which is which, even with the power on. Do you have any good grounded outlets nearby? How about some metal plumbing? You will need an analog voltmeter or a neon tester also.

What type of wiring is this? Cloth cable? Knob and tube? Is one of the black wires actually white or grey and just really dirty?
 
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Old 08-19-05, 01:23 PM
posegate
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The fire was deemed "not electrical" and "not arson."

They both looked black, but then again, it was dark, because of the no electricity.

Will a regular voltage tester work?

Sadly, I have no grounded wires in my house.
 
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Old 08-19-05, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by posegate
Will a regular voltage tester work?
Define "regular voltage tester." I think of a Wiggy or Vol-Con, which won't help because it will only tell you there is 120V between the wires, not which is the hot, and it appears you may not have something nearby that is also grounded to test the wires independently. That's also the reason for the recommendation of an analog meter, because it won't give you a phantom voltage reading if you try to read to a ground that isn't really grounded.

For about $20, you can buy a high quality (Fluke or Greenlee, etc.) non-contact voltage tester, sometimes called a tick tracer, or hot stick. BUT, you need the circuit to be live to use it; then just set it on the side of each wire (it reads right through the insulation.) It will glow (Fluke) or flash and beep (Greenlee) when touching the hot wire. It should do nothing (other than possibly a quick flash) when next to a properly landed neutral or ground.
 
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Old 08-19-05, 04:15 PM
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What would be involved in running a new circuit with a proper ground and good wiring?
 
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Old 08-19-05, 09:37 PM
posegate
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installing a proper wire with a ground would require rewiring the room, tearing down the plaster and lath (spelling?), drywalling that up, then running a new wire through the wall to the switch, back to the breaker box, wiring the breaker box for ground, and finally burying something metal in the actual terra firma.

I've been told that doing this is an expensive undertaking, the likes of which I am not yet prepared to ... take under.

The other information is, however, very helpful. I will check that out. I do have a non-contact voltage tester which beeps and lights up. My next trouble will be turning on the circuit. It is currently "off limits" due to some potentially dangerous wiring elsewhere. If I can avoid that, I should be alright.
 
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