TWO Switches, ONE Fan, ONE VERY CONFUSED MAN!

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  #1  
Old 03-26-07, 01:29 PM
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Unhappy TWO Switches, ONE Fan, ONE VERY CONFUSED MAN!

Please help! I'm going CRAZY WITH CONFUSION!

Up until a couple of weeks ago, our den had one ceiling fan that was controlled with TWO wall switches...let's call them SWITCH 1 and SWITCH 2. These switches were located beside each of the two doors leading into the den.

The fan seemed to be a basic 2-switch operation--much like what you might find with a light above a staircase controlled by two switches, one at the top of the stairs and one at the base of the stairs.

You could turn the fan ON with SWITCH 1, and then turn it OFF with either SWITCH 2 or by returning SWITCH 1 back to its original position. The reverse was also true--you could turn the fan on with SWITCH 2, and then turn it OFF by either hitting SWITCH 1 or by returning SWITCH 2 to its original position.

Two weeks ago, we remodeled our den walls and ceiling, and during this time the ceiling fan was removed. The two switches that controlled the ceiling fan were also replaced with new switches of the same type. I am reasonably sure that the new switches were hooked up EXACTLY like the old switches were (more on this later).

I bought a new ceiling fan and tried to install it, but I got confused about how to connect it...but that was JUST THE BEGINNING...HERE ARE THE FACTS.

1) The junction box in my ceiling has TWO sets of THREE wires coming out of it. Each set of wires consists of one BLACK wire, one WHITE wire, and one BARE wire--A TOTAL OF SIX WIRES IN ALL.

2) SWITCH 1 has ONE set of FOUR wires coming to it -- one RED wire, one BLACK wire, one WHITE wire, and one BARE wire. The BARE wire is attached to the metal switchbox itself. Looking directly at the BACK of SWITCH 1, with the switch toggle facing AWAY from you, the remaining wires are connected as follows: WHITE wire connected to BOTTOM LEFT terminal, BLACK wire connected to TOP RIGHT terminal, RED wire connected to BOTTOM RIGHT terminal. (NOTE: There is NO TOP LEFT terminal on this switch.)

3) SWITCH 2 has ONE set of THREE wires and ONE set of FOUR wires coming to it--a total of TWO sets of wires, SEVEN wires in all. The set of THREE wires consists of one BLACK wire, one WHITE wire, and one BARE wire. The set of FOUR wires consists of one BLACK wire, one WHITE wire, one RED wire, and one BARE wire. Looking directly at the BACK of SWITCH 2, with the switch toggle facing AWAY from you, the wires are connected as follows: both BARE wires are connected to the metal switchbox, both WHITE wires are connected to each other with a wire nut, BLACK wire from the THREE-wire set connected to BOTTOM LEFT switch terminal, BLACK wire from the FOUR-wire set connected to TOP RIGHT terminal, and RED wire connected to BOTTOM RIGHT terminal. (NOTE: There is NO TOP LEFT terminal on this switch.)

A friend of ours, who is an electrician by trade, came over to our house to tell me how to connect the new fan. He had a wire tester that lit up when you pointed it at a live wire. According to his wire tester, NONE OF THE WIRES WERE LIVE EXCEPT ONE OF THE BLACK WIRES COMING OUT OF THE CEILING. Flipping the switches did NOT give us any other result. NONE of the wires coming to the switches ever became "live", no matter how each switch was activated. He concluded that this circuit was wired incorrectly, and he also concluded that I would not be able to use EITHER switch. He told me that my ONLY option was to get rid of BOTH switches and simply use the fan's pull chain as a switch.

HE MADE THE FOLLOWING CONNECTIONS:

1) In an attempt to get at least one switch to work, he replaced SWITCH 1 with a single-pole switch and connected it like this: RED wire connected to one switch terminal, and BLACK wire connected to the other terminal. WHITE wire was capped off and not used. BARE wire remains connected to metal switchbox.

2) He removed SWITCH 2 completely. At the switchbox for SWITCH 2, he connected both BLACK wires together and capped them with a wire nut. He connected the WHITE wire from the THREE-wire set to the RED wire from the FOUR-wire set and capped them with a wire nut. The WHITE wire from the FOUR-wire set was capped off and not used. Both BARE wires remain connected to the metal switchbox.

3) At the junction box in the ceiling, where the fan will connect, he showed me that I will only use ONE black wire, ONE white wire, and tie both BARE wires together. (Interestingly, the black wire I will now be using is NOT the same black wire that was "live". That black wire is now dead.)

Needless to say, I am THOROUGHLY confused!!! Why can't I simply have what I had before??????? Why was it possible to control a fan with TWO switches a couple of weeks ago, but now it has become impossible to use even ONE switch? And why would I have juice ONLY in the ceiling and not at EITHER switch? Is it possible that I connected the two new switches incorrectly?

I will be frank: Not only am I doubting my switch installation, I am also doubting my friend's expertise, and that is why I am posting this question here.

CAN ANYONE HELP ME? I have tried my best to make this question as clear as I can, but I won't blame anyone if they are as confused as I am! Please let me know if my explanation isn't clear.

HOW CAN I CONNECT TWO--OR AT LEAST ONE--SWITCH TO MY NEW CEILING FAN????
 
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  #2  
Old 03-26-07, 03:03 PM
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This is all pretty standard stuff, and should be quite easy to rectify. Unfortunately, I don't have time right now to provide the details. I'll do it later tonight unless somebody else saves me the trouble between now and then.

P.S. I'm doubting your friend's expertise too. It sounds like what he did was crazy.
 
  #3  
Old 03-26-07, 03:38 PM
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WOW !! i just about drop my jaw that your freind did not do the sisuation right at all.

ok let me try { roll up shirt sleeve }


if you understand the basic electrical system ??

if so , fine but if not i will suggest to get the " wiring simplefed " book it will show some details on the wiring set up because the 3 way switch is little tricky here


once you understand this ,...

first thing before you work on this TURN OFF THE BREAKER OR FUSE first safety first please .

unscrew all the switche[s] where it affect the fan /light unit but please do not i say again do not unhook the wires for a min please.

what you have to do at the 3 ways switches is look for word " common " or dark coloured screw and you can see it and also will have two bright brass screws there.

the reason why i say look for two imporat clues here because you describe the wires and loaction that part i don't care about it my main point is the common screw and travller [ bright brass screws ]

i going to ingore the ground wires for now

what you have to do get a paper and write it down each switch and look for dark screw and mark down what colour it is and the trallver [ bright brass screws ]

do the same with other switchs as well but senice your freind capped off the wires it will compound it little more.

and the same time get the fan dome cover off and look at the connections as well

you have to find the incomming power source this gimzo called non concat voltage tester [ many box store carry this item i think less than 15 bucks ]

once you get the NCV tester [ NCV = non concat voltage ] then what you do is tell other people to stay away from the switche[s] then turn on the breaker and find the source first [ leave the fan switch off first you will understand why i do this ]

once you find the source it will be either 14-2 or 12-2 wires comming in the box i am not sure which one of the 3 place it will show up

once you find it then turn off the breaker again and mark that wire is power source .

next step what you have to do is reset the switches with 3 way set up get that power source there please tell me where is the real power soruce then i will go from there.

Merci , Marc

here basic way

http://www.truevalue.com/images/Projects_T-Z/wiring2big.jpg

and other way

http://www.truevalue.com/images/Projects_T-Z/wiring2big.jpg

that one of the two common way to do this but if not in the way it describing please let us know then we can guide you the correct way there is quite few diffrent combations to do this
 

Last edited by french277V; 03-26-07 at 03:42 PM. Reason: add link for 3 way switching
  #4  
Old 03-26-07, 04:06 PM
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Here is what you need to do to make this work. Your friend is no electrician. It is a simple threeway switch loop
Make special note of the COMMON screw. Top, left, right is no good. You need the COMMON. COMMON is the black screw or marked as COMMON.

It looks exactly like this one.
http://www.selfhelpandmore.com/switchoutlet/3way/3wayfixture.htm
 
  #5  
Old 03-26-07, 04:21 PM
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thanks i almost forgot that link.. i did bookmark that one for futre refernce if someone else ask this again

Merci , Marc
 
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Old 03-26-07, 06:24 PM
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Thanks SO MUCH to everyone who has responded so far!

Marc, that switch wiring diagram has been more help to me than anything else so far! THANKS! I appreciate it!

My wife thinks that our friend just couldn't be bothered to do it right and didn't want to fix this up for us. I think differently--I honestly think that he didn't know what he was doing. At one point during his investigations, he actually said that he couldn't understand why there was power in the ceiling but not at either of the two switches. Now I see that it was NORMAL for it to be that way! Sheesh!

I think that I now have the know-how to tackle this project myself. I have done electrical work on our house before, but I have never done a 2-switch system like this. But it doesn't seem to be too big a deal.

I will disable the circuit breaker tomorrow and get to work! I'll let everyone know how it turns out.

THANKS AGAIN TO EVERYONE!
 
  #7  
Old 03-27-07, 09:52 AM
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Well I followed everyone's advice, and my fan installation is a SUCCESS.

I have EXACTLY what I wanted....one fan controlled by two switches. No problems at all!

Needless to say, it will be a LONG time before I ask my "electrician" friend for advice again.

Thanks again, everyone!
 
  #8  
Old 03-27-07, 11:53 AM
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Invite him over and show him what you did.
 
  #9  
Old 03-27-07, 12:15 PM
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No, no, don't do that. He might want to "fix" it.
 
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