Yet Another Ceiling Fan Question (or 2)

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Old 04-04-09, 02:08 PM
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Yet Another Ceiling Fan Question (or 2)

I'm replacing an existing ceiling fan that was installed by the previous owner. House was built in the late 80's.

Turns out the original ceiling fan was not secured well, so when I loosened a single screw, it came down and pulled the wires out of the wire nuts before I could see what was attached where.

Original fan also had lights. A double wall switch is set up such that one switch turns the fan on/off and the other switch turns the light on/off.

The wires coming out of the ceiling are red, purple, and light brown. Not sure if this matters, but both the purple and light brown wires have streaks of white paint on them (red does not).

I pulled the double switch apart to see what I could see. The left switch (which controlled the light) has a purple and light brown wire both attached at the top. A red jumper wire runs from the bottom to the bottom of the right switch (which controlled the fan). The top of the right switch is connected to a red wire which (along with the purple and light brown) all feed back into the conduit.

Ideally, I'd like to get rid of the switches altogether. I bought a remote to use with the fan; the remote has two wires for input (hot and neutral) and then three wires to feed the fan. But I'm not sure how much work that would be.

Alternatively, I could just hook the new fan up the way the old one was and use the switches, at least for now. I'm just not sure how to work out which wire is which since there's nothing "obvious" (white, black) up there. Would appreciate any advise.

Thanks!

--chris
 
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Old 04-04-09, 03:54 PM
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There's no white wire at the ceiling? That's extremely odd, unless that "light brown" wire is really a white wire burnt by too much heat.

The white paint doesn't count. That's just a sloppy painter. It doesn't mean anything.

Find me a white (or gray) wire at the ceiling. We cannot proceed without it.

Could that light brown wire really be white? Is it a different color than the light brown wires in the switch box?
 
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Old 04-04-09, 04:03 PM
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No, it's definitely light brown, and it's definitely the same color at the switch. I've got a feeling that the previous owner did some upgrades on his own...
 
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Old 04-04-09, 08:04 PM
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Once you get this far off course, it's too risky to try to straighten in out remotely. I suggest you get a qualified person in to help straighten it out. Any advice I could give from here would be too risky. Good luck.
 
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Old 04-04-09, 08:08 PM
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There is no ground correct? (green or bare)

Is there a metal box and do you have an electrical meter?
 
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Old 04-04-09, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
There is no ground correct? (green or bare)
Correct.

Is there a metal box and do you have an electrical meter?
Yes, and yes.
 
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Old 04-05-09, 11:01 AM
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Just thinking out loud, here...

Switches are wired on the hot side of a circuit, yes? Given that, I would assume (A) the red wire connecting to the switches is the hot "feed" wire, and (B) the light brown and purple wires are hot wires to feed the fan. I say this because it wouldn't make any sense to feed the switch with two hot wires; plus, I would assume that you'd need two wires going from the switch to the fan.

By process of elimination, the red wire at the fan ought to be neutral (even though that's a stupid color to use).

Now...is there a way I can confirm this with a meter?
 
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Old 04-05-09, 01:43 PM
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Multimeter results

OK, I took my multimeter up, and here's what I found:

* Purple wire and grounding screw: shows ~125v difference.
* Red wire and grounding screw: shows ~125v difference.
* Brown wire and grounding screw: shows 0.
* Purple wire and brown wire: shows ~125v difference.
* Red wire and brown wire: shows ~125v difference.

I assume this means that the brown wire is indeed the neutral wire, and that purple and red are both hot (meaning my previous assumption based upon the switch wiring was not correct).

So now the question becomes: how do I wire this to my remote receiver? It has two input wires (hot and neutral). I assume I do not want to tie both (purple and red) hot wires from the ceiling to the hot wire on the remote receiver, correct?

Alternatively I could leave the remote out of the equation; the fan itself expects two hot inputs (one for fan, one for light). But I'd rather use the remote.
 
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Old 04-05-09, 02:59 PM
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More multimeter results

Sorry to keep adding to this, but I keep doing detective work and want to add everything.

First: the switches weren't wired exactly as I described; I made an error in my notes. Instead:

Left switch (controlled light) has purple wire connected to the top, brown wire connected to the bottom, and red jumper wire connected to the bottom.

Right switch (controlled fan) has red wire connected to the top and the red jumper wire connected to the bottom.

So I pulled the switches out and played multimeter. Results:

* Purple wire plus ground: 0.
* Red wire plus ground: 0.
* Brown wire plus ground: ~125v.

Diagram:



Closer examination suggests the brown wire at the switch may be darker than the one in the ceiling; in any case, it's clear they aren't the same. It seems clear, in fact, that the brown wire at the switch is the hot supply wire, and the purple and red wires go from the switch to the fanbox.

So if I want to eliminate the switches altogether, it seems logical to me that I can connect the brown and red wires at the switch, then use the red wire at the ceiling as the hot wire (and stop using the purple wire completely).

Make sense?
 
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Old 04-05-09, 03:08 PM
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I'd hunt around and try to find a non-white wire connected to a white wire somewhere. That would suggest that the non-white wire is the neutral. Hopefully, it will match one of the colors you have at the ceiling.

Note: For people outside the Chicago area, please ignore this whole thread because it doesn't apply to you.
 
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Old 04-05-09, 04:05 PM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson View Post
I'd hunt around and try to find a non-white wire connected to a white wire somewhere. That would suggest that the non-white wire is the neutral. Hopefully, it will match one of the colors you have at the ceiling.
Tomorrow I'll pull wallplates and see what I can see.

Note: For people outside the Chicago area, please ignore this whole thread because it doesn't apply to you.
Um...what? Do we do our wiring differently in the Chicago area?
 
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Old 04-05-09, 04:11 PM
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Do we do our wiring differently in the Chicago area?
Boy, do you ever!!!!!!!!!!
 
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Old 04-05-09, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by cheer View Post
* Purple wire and grounding screw: shows ~125v difference.
* Red wire and grounding screw: shows ~125v difference.
* Brown wire and grounding screw: shows 0.
* Purple wire and brown wire: shows ~125v difference.
* Red wire and brown wire: shows ~125v difference.

I assume this means that the brown wire is indeed the neutral wire, and that purple and red are both hot (meaning my previous assumption based upon the switch wiring was not correct).
Sorry for being late. I believe your are correct. The brown wire appears to be your neutral. I have seen many white wires that have discolored to a light brown as you describe but I wanted to be sure.

Also it looks to me that when you pulled the switches and did your testing you did not have the switches in the on position.
 
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Old 04-05-09, 08:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Tolyn Ironhand View Post
Sorry for being late. I believe your are correct. The brown wire appears to be your neutral. I have seen many white wires that have discolored to a light brown as you describe but I wanted to be sure.
Excellent; thanks!

Also it looks to me that when you pulled the switches and did your testing you did not have the switches in the on position.
I actually had disconnected the switches completely.
 
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