Ceiling fan wire question

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  #1  
Old 10-24-05, 05:45 PM
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Ceiling fan wire question

Hi,

For a while, we used the chain to turn on and off the lights from the ceiling fan and never used the wall switch. I know that the wall switch used to work with the lights from the ceiling. One year, my wife bought a new ceiling fan with remote control and hired a handyman to install it. After the remote control failed to work, we replaced the ceiling fan with the current one without a remote control but never went back to make the wall switch to work again.

So, now the chain broke, I took apart the fan and see these wires:

From the ceiling, there are 4 wires: a brown, a white, another white with black tape taped over, and a green.

From the current ceiling fan, I see also 4 wires: a black, a blue, a white, and a green.

Right now, the brown from ceiling is wired with the black and blue from fan together. Should I reconnect the blue to the white with black tape from ceiling assuming that is the one connecting to the wall switch? This is so I can use wall switch to control the light and don't need to worry about the broken chain.
Thanks
 
  #2  
Old 10-24-05, 07:55 PM
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So when you took down the previous fan, do you remember anything about how it was connected?

The fan cannot work with the wall switch unless the pull chain is set to the "on" position for both the fan (and its light, if any). If the pull chain broke in the "off" position, you'll need to get it back to the "on" position before you have any chance of success with the wall switch.

Those pull chains are not usually sturdy enough for everyday use, at least not for a long time.
 
  #3  
Old 10-24-05, 11:56 PM
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John,

Thanks for the reply and that is a good point. I think I can not get the old ceiling fan lights back to the 'on' position since it was broke while it was 'off', so I will have to get a new ceiling fan altogether.

Back to my original question though: after I get a new ceiling fan, will I have to connect the following:

1. brown wire (ceiling) to black wire (ceiling fan)
2. white wire (ceiling) to white wire (ceiling fan)
3. green wire (ceiling) to green wire (ceiling fan)
4. and this is really my question: white wire (ceiling) with black tape taped over to blue wire (ceiling fan) ?

The 4th white wire (ceiling) is currently not used, and the blue wire (ceiling fan) is currently connected to brown (ceiling) and black (ceiling fan) together.

Is it safe for me just try connecting the 4th white wire (ceiling) to blue (ceiling fan)

Thanks
fh
 
  #4  
Old 10-25-05, 12:05 AM
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John,

I am just trying to make my explanation more clearer. Here is the old way:
1. brown wire (ceiling) to black wire (ceiling fan) and blue wire (ceiling fan)
2. white wire (ceiling) to white wire (ceiling fan)
3. green wire (ceiling) to green wire (ceiling fan)
There is a 4th white wire (ceiling) with black tape taped over and not used.

New way and hope this is the way to make my wall switch to work:
1. brown wire (ceiling) to black wire (ceiling fan)
2. white wire (ceiling) to white wire (ceiling fan)
3. green wire (ceiling) to green wire (ceiling fan)
4. white wire (ceiling) with black tape taped over to blue wire (ceiling fan)

As you can see, I am asking instead of connecting the blue wire (ceiling fan) with the black (fan) to brown (ceiling), can I have it connected to the white wire (ceiling) with black tape taped over, and hope that is what's being controlled by the wall switch?

Thanks
fh
 
  #5  
Old 10-25-05, 09:29 AM
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Is there one wall switch or two?

Do you live in North America? If so, do you live in the greater Chicago area?

Could the brown wire simply be a very old white wire that has discolored?

If just one wall switch, do you want it to turn on the fan's motor, the fan's light, or both?
 
  #6  
Old 10-25-05, 12:39 PM
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Hi, John,

To answer your questions:

Q: Is there one wall switch or two?
A: There is only one wall switch, and it used to work with the old ceiling fan when we moved in.

Q: Do you live in North America? If so, do you live in the greater Chicago area?
A: We live in the Los Angeles area and the house was built in 1960.

Q: Could the brown wire simply be a very old white wire that has discolored?
A: I think the brown wire has to be some dark colar to begin with. The other two white wires (one with a black tape over at the end) are actually shown as beige or yellowish color now.

Q: If just one wall switch, do you want it to turn on the fan's motor, the fan's light, or both?
A: I would like the wall switch to turn on just the lights from the ceiling fan, since the lights are needed everyday. I can leave the fan's motor be turned on by fan's chain.

Thanks again for responding.
fh
 
  #7  
Old 10-25-05, 12:46 PM
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Your situation is odd enough that I wouldn't feel good about advising you until you conduct a few tests. Do you own a voltmeter or any other kind of electrical test instrument? If so, what?

Does this house have a lot of stuff that looks like it was done by a shoot-from-the-hip DIYer?

When we say "brown", we are talking about the color of the insulation on the wire and not the color of the wire itself, right?
 
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Old 10-25-05, 04:25 PM
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John,

Thanks for your patience on this particular thread.

Q: Do you own a voltmeter or any other kind of electrical test instrument? If so, what?
A: I have a simple tester that I picked up from Home Depot. The black needle on one end and the red needle on the other end. There is neon light that lights up when I connected my black needle to brown wire and red needle to white wire from ceiling.

Q: Does this house have a lot of stuff that looks like it was done by a shoot-from-the-hip DIYer?
A: I am not sure. In the last 15 years we have lived in it, I have replaced some bath room light fixtures. Some wall switches that I picked up from Home Depot. But nothing bigger wiring job I that I am aware of.

Q: When we say "brown", we are talking about the color of the insulation on the wire and not the color of the wire itself, right?
A: Yes. The outside of the rubber/plastic insulation is brownish color. The inside of all 4 ceiling wires are all copper.


Thanks
fh
 
  #9  
Old 10-25-05, 11:26 PM
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John,

If you are still reading my posts, I have attached a picture of the 4 wires from my ceiling:

http://pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/jh4986...&.dnm=1efa.jpg

The one at the top of the picture is the brown one. The green one is to the left. The lower two are the white ones.

Should I remove the one with the black tape and have it connect to the blue wire from the ceiling fan?

Thanks
fh
 
  #10  
Old 10-26-05, 01:09 PM
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We don't guess, so I can't answer your question yet.

You have a simple neon circuit tester. It will do just fine for this test. Here's what I want you to do:
  • Turn on the breaker.
  • Turn off the wall switch.
  • Carefully conduct the first six voltage tests listed below by touching one probe on your neon tester to one wire, and the other probe to another wire. Then see if the light on your neon tester comes on.
  • Turn on the wall switch and do the second six tests.
  • Report results here.
Here are the voltage tests to conduct, between each of the following pairs of wires:
  1. With the wall switch off, the brown wire and the green wire
  2. With the wall switch off, the white wire without the tape and the green wire
  3. With the wall switch off, the white wire with the tape and the green wire
  4. With the wall switch off, the brown wire and the white wire without the tape
  5. With the wall switch off, the brown wire and the white wire with the tape
  6. With the wall switch off, the white wire without the tape, and the white wire with the tape
  7. With the wall switch on, the brown wire and the green wire
  8. With the wall switch on, the white wire without the tape and the green wire
  9. With the wall switch on, the white wire with the tape and the green wire
  10. With the wall switch on, the brown wire and the white wire without the tape
  11. With the wall switch on, the brown wire and the white wire with the tape
  12. With the wall switch on, the white wire without the tape, and the white wire with the tape
I need 12 results, each of which will be "yes" or "no" as to whether it turns on the neon light on your tester. You can report the results by number. Be careful not to touch any wires, and be careful to get accurate results. It will be easier if you have a helper on the ground with a pen and paper and this list of tests to record the results.
 
  #11  
Old 10-26-05, 08:31 PM
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John,

I followed your instructions and did the test twice. Here is the results:

1. With the wall switch off, the brown wire and the green wire Yes
2. With the wall switch off, the white wire without the tape and the green wire No
3. With the wall switch off, the white wire with the tape and the green wire No
4. With the wall switch off, the brown wire and the white wire without the tape Yes
5. With the wall switch off, the brown wire and the white wire with the tape No
6. With the wall switch off, the white wire without the tape, and the white wire with the tape No
7. With the wall switch on, the brown wire and the green wire Yes
8. With the wall switch on, the white wire without the tape and the green wire No
9. With the wall switch on, the white wire with the tape and the green wire Yes
10. With the wall switch on, the brown wire and the white wire without the tape Yes
11. With the wall switch on, the brown wire and the white wire with the tape No
12. With the wall switch on, the white wire without the tape, and the white wire with the tape Yes
I can see that when the switch is turned on, (9) and (12) are making the neon light to come on. The rest stay the same as the first test group.

Thanks
 
  #12  
Old 10-27-05, 08:24 AM
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The reason that the white wire has tape on it is that it is a reidentified hot. I suggest you take the tape off, and mark the white insulation with a black magic marker. I'll then call this wire the "reidentified white".

Black is the unswitched hot.
The reidentified white is the switched hot.
The white is the neutral.
The green is the ground.

So connect:
  • Fan black to ceiling black. This makes the fan motor controlled only by the pull chain.
  • Fan blue to ceiling reidentified white. This makes the fan light controlled by the wall switch.
  • Fan white to ceiling white. This is the neutral.
  • Fan green to ceiling green.
This is of course the same solution you guessed a few days ago, but don't you feel better having some assurance that it is correct and safe?
 
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Old 10-27-05, 10:20 AM
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Joh,

I thank you so very much for your time, and effort. I feel so much better now.

Since the old chain unit is part of the ceiling fan which is broken, I will need to go to Home Depot this weekend and buy a new ceiling fan and follow your wiring connection instructions.

This has been a valuable education session for me. You are great!

fh
 
  #14  
Old 10-27-05, 12:19 PM
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If the fan is fine, and only the light pull chain is broke, you can remove the wires from that switch and connect them together, and control the light from the wall.
 
 

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