Need help troubleshooting a non-working ceiling fan

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Old 09-16-18, 08:21 AM
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Need help troubleshooting a non-working ceiling fan

My kitchen ceiling fan quit working. No lights and no fan. Normally I use the remote to operate both fan and light. Fan also has pull chains for both. After trying the pull chains with no luck, I changed the battery in the remote, also with no luck. Power to the fan and fan light is controlled by two 3way wall light switches which are never used. Tried putting them on in different positions but again no luck. Checked main breaker and it is on and other things on the same breaker work. I then checked for power at each wall switch. While I found power at each switch, the voltage was only 100 volts. Checked other receptacles and got 120 volts, So meter is good. Any electricians out there that could tell me where they think the problem might be? The only thing I can think to try next is to remove the ceiling fan and check for power there, not an easy job. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 08:42 AM
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How were you checking for power when you measured 100v ?
100vAC is a strange voltage to read. The fan should run on that.

Checking for voltage at the fan canopy is also a good idea.
Usually you can just drop the canopy cover to get to the wiring for testing.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 09:54 AM
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Hi,
I was checking for voltage at each of the wall switches by checking voltage between screw terminals with each switch on and then off. One position I measured 100 volts and in other position. 0 volts. Same thing at both switches. I agree 100 volts is odd. Thatís why I checked the meter at another outlet where I read 120 volts. I havenít removed the canopy yet. Thefan is very close to the ceiling though and that is why I am trying to rule out possilble other issues first such as bad 3 way switch.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 10:00 AM
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You can't read voltage across a switch.
You need to measure from the screw terminals to neutral or ground.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 10:04 AM
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There are three screw terminals on each switch. Wouldnít one of those be neutral?
 
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Old 09-16-18, 10:05 AM
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On a three way switch..... the dark screw is common and the other two brass screws are travelers.
Only one of the two travelers should be live. No neutral on a switch.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 10:09 AM
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I will go pull one of the switches out of the box and note the screw colors and check the voltages and let you know. Going to do that right now.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 10:17 AM
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Ok. One screw is on the lower left side of the switch. The other two screws are on the right side, one top and the other bottom. All three screws are silver. There is a red wire connected to the screw on the left. Both screws on the right have black wires.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 10:20 AM
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If all screws are silver...... there should be a marking on the switch for common. With two black and one red wire....... a black wire will be common. If you pull the switch out..... the red and black wires that are the travelers will go into the same cable. The loose/extra black wire will be the common.

If you're just checking for voltage...... check from all three screws to ground. One should measure 120vAC.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 10:37 AM
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The screw on the top right is common as marked on the back of the switch. I then measured voltage from a bare copper wire inside the box to each screw. With the switch in one position, I measure 120volts at the red wire at the lower left screw and 0 volts at each of the other two screws. With the switch in the other position, I measure 120volts again at the red wire, 0 volts at the top black wire(the common), and 120 volts at the bottom black wire.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 10:45 AM
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Since the red wire is the current hot traveler coming from the other switch..... it will show as hot regardless of that switch position. The other traveler will remain 0 volts and the common will become hot based on switch setting.

This what your circuit looks like.....
Name:  3_way.jpg
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Old 09-16-18, 10:56 AM
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That makes sense as I see it. So at least the one switch apparently is ok. I havenít looked at the other switch yet as far as the wiring goes, but I do recall a red wire for sure. Is it possible the other switch might be bad, or not? If not, then I guess the next step will be to get into the fan itself.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 11:02 AM
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At one of the three way switches...... the common screw terminal will always be live. That is the line side of the circuit. At the other switch.... the common screw will be hot based on switch location. That is the load or fan side.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 11:12 AM
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So apparently the switch I just checked is the load or fan side switch. I would understand that to mean that there would be power going to the fan. Is that a correct assumption?
 
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Old 09-16-18, 11:32 AM
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Looking back.... it would appear that you did not see any voltage on the common on that switch after changing its position. That would indicate a bad switch.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 11:38 AM
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I just rechecked. With the switch in one position, there is no voltage at the common black wire. In the other position, there is 120 volts. The red wire always has 120 volts regardless of switch position.

I just now checked the second switch. Same wire connections as the first switch. Red wire lower left screw and black wires on the right side terminals with common being the top right.. With switch in one position there is 0 volts at the red wire and 120 volts at both of the black wires. With the switch in the other position, there is 120 volts at he red wire, 120 volts at the common, and 0 volts at the other black wire.
 

Last edited by mharnisch; 09-16-18 at 12:04 PM.
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Old 09-16-18, 12:11 PM
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That is correct. Both switches are functioning correctly.
 
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Old 09-16-18, 12:19 PM
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Darn. Never an easy fix is there. Tomorrow I will tear into the fan and let you know what I find. Really appreciate your help.
 
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Old 09-17-18, 08:34 AM
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Good morning. I disconnected the ceiling fan this morning. There were only two wires to disconnect from the black and white power. I checked for power and got 120volts. The power connects to a red wire and a white wire going into the ceiling fan remote control receiver. There are 3 wires coming out of the receiver. One is white, one is black, and the other is blue. The schematic on the back of the receiver shows one wire going to fan neutral, one wire to fan live, and the other to fan light, but it doesnít specify which color goes where. Those thre wires are then connected to three other wires with wire nuts that go into the fan itself. White connects to white, black connects to black, and blue connects to a darker blue. I removed the light kit cover and found a lot of wires inside. I assume because the fan is a 3 speed reversible (never use reverse) and the light is dimmable, that probably explains all the wires.
What I would like to do is eliminate the receiver completely and see if everything will work just by using the pull chains. Do you think this is possible? How would I connect the white, black, and dark blue wires going into the fan to the black and white power wires?
 
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Old 09-17-18, 02:15 PM
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There are five wires on the receiver.
White and black are 120vAC in to the receiver.
Then there is white = neutral, blue = light, black = fan.

You can remove the wireless receiver and connect white to white. Then connect black from ceiling to both blue and black from the fan.
 
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Old 09-17-18, 02:23 PM
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Hi,
That is what I was thinking. But before I took a chance and shorted something out, I thought it best to get a second opinion. Thank you. I will connect it tomorrow and let you know how it works out.
 
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Old 09-18-18, 09:21 AM
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Hi,
I eliminated the remote control receiver connecting the wiring as you suggested, reinstalled the fan, and it WORKS! Both fan and light now controlled by pull chains. Fan still has 3 speeds. The light, which was dimmable before, is no longer dimmable but is at full brightness. Not a big deal. I want to thank you very much for your step by step help in getting this fixed. Just curious, are you an electrician by trade?
 
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Old 09-18-18, 01:09 PM
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I'm an electrician/electronic technician by trade for many years.

It appears the wireless system has gone bad. Assuming the transmitter was working.... that leaves a dead receiver. They are available as a replacement kit.
 
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Old 09-19-18, 05:52 AM
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I sort of suspected that you have the experience. Glad that you do. Obviously either the remote receiver or transmitter is bad. I did open up the receiver and looked at the circuit board. I did notice some black film on one end of the receiver but didnít see any burned spots on the board. Anyway I am quite happy without it. Just need to get some longer pull chains so my wife can reach it. Thanks again for all your help.
 
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