old wiring causes fan hook-up headache


Old 05-31-04, 09:13 PM
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old wiring causes fan hook-up headache

I have a house, built in the late 40's, and I am trying to put in a ceiling fan with a light kit in a kitchen that previously held a flourescent light. The wiring has been partially updated and currently coming from the box is one new set of wiring (1 black, 1 white, 1 bare) and two sets of old wiring that each contain two wires covered in insulation and fabric. They appear to be one black and one brown. This breaker contains only two lights (one in kitchen and one is dining room) and the light switch that works this light has old wiring attached to it. One problem is that the old light had to be removed to replace the ceiling and now I've forgotten which wires were attached where on the old flourescent light. With many combinations of wiring I have managed to make the fan/light work when the breaker is on, but the switch not work and the fan/light not work but the light in the next room work. I think I have figured out that the new wiring is bringing the power to the fan and one old set is taking power to the dining room and the other old set should complete the loop; but somewhere I'm missing how to make everything work at once!! Any help would be appreciated.
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Old 05-31-04, 11:19 PM
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now I've forgotten which wires were attached where
Oh, how I hate to hear those words. The job is ever so much harder when this happens.

At any point in this process did you trip the breaker when you turned the switch on?

Start by telling us the wiring in the switch box. And then tell us what electrical test equipment you own, because you're going to need some.
Old 06-01-04, 12:18 PM
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more info about wiring

The switch has the old style wiring (one brown-one black). When I turn the breaker, the light in the kitchen comes on automatically and if the switch in the kitchen is turned on it flips the breaker. (The dining room light works fine, with its on switch until the breaker is flipped).

The only electrical testing equipment I have is the basic tester that lights up if there is an electrical current)

Additional info: the ceilign fan with light has four wires: white, blue, black, ground
Old 06-01-04, 07:57 PM
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We're getting closer. You have a classic switch loop.

Were the kitchen light and dining room light controlled by the same switch, or did they each have their own switch?

Are you intending to use the kitchen switch to control the fan's motor and fan's light with one switch, and then use the pull chains to control the two functions. Or did you want to use the pull chain only for the fan's motor, and the wall switch just for the fan's light? Both are possible.

One of the black/brown pairs goes from the kitchen light to the switch, and the other goes into the dining room. Your first task is to determine which is which. It's going to be hard with only a simple circuit tester. But it's possible if you're good at following directions.
Old 06-01-04, 08:08 PM
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The kitchen light and the dining room lights have seperate switches. I would like to use the kitchen switch to control fan and light and use pull chains to control functions.

I am good at following directions, but if I need to buy an additional piece of equipment to test the wiring, I can do that also.

Thank you so much for all of your help.
Old 06-01-04, 08:34 PM
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If the insulation on the old wiring is crumbling, consider calling in professional help. But if it is sound, you may continue. The wire you identify as "brown" is probably just "white" wire that has turned brown with age.

Okay, as I said, we need figure out which of the black/brown pairs is the switch loop. Do this:
  1. Shut off the breaker.
  2. Disconnect all the wires at the kitchen ceiling, and separate the wires.
  3. Chase the kids from the room and turn the breaker back on.
  4. Test the three pairs of wires at the ceiling with your tester to see which one has power. Only one pair should light your tester. This is the power cable. Shut off the breaker and label the power cable "P".
  5. If the power cable is one of the black/brown pairs, then the other black/brown pair is the switch loop. Turn the breaker back off, label the switch loop "S", and skip the rest of these steps.
  6. Shut off the breaker again.
  7. If the black/white pair is the power cable, then connect this pair one-to-one with one of the black/brown pairs (choose it randomly). Leave the other black/brown pair unconnected.
  8. Remove the kitchen switch and separate those two wires.
  9. Turn on the breaker again.
  10. Use your tester to test the wires at the switch. If the tester lights up, then the black/brown pair you connected is the switch loop cable.
  11. If the tester does not light up, go back five steps and try the other pair.
  12. Shut off the breaker.
  13. Disconnect all the wires at the ceiling again.
  14. Label the switch loop cable at the ceiling "S".
  15. Reinstall the switch.
You now have three identified pairs of wires at the ceiling: (1) The power cable ("P"), (2) the switch loop cable ("S"), and (3) The downstream cable ("D"). Now make these connections at the ceiling:
  1. Power cable black to switch cable brown and downstream cable black. Note that none of these wires connects to the fan.
  2. Power cable white (or brown) to fan white and downstream cable white (or brown).
  3. Switch cable black to fan black and fan blue (or black with white stripe).
  4. All grounding wires together.

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