Replacing ceiling fan/light wall switch

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Old 08-20-09, 01:35 PM
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Replacing ceiling fan/light wall switch

I would like to replace the single wall switch that controls the light on a ceiling fan. The fan is powered independently of the light (no wall switch).

When I pulled to switch I found the wiring to be thus:

Two black wires to the side screws, one red (or pink wire) to the lower side screw, one black wire to the upper back wire hole in the switch and another red (or pink) wire with a splash of white paint on it to the lower back wire port.

Question is was the fan powered directly by the two wires that were back wired on the switch? If so, does this mean that I can get a switch that allows me to control both the light and fan from the wall?

Thank You,
 

Last edited by mwivy64; 08-20-09 at 03:44 PM.
  #2  
Old 08-20-09, 04:26 PM
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It sounds like the switch was also used as a way to make a splice between different cables instead of using pigtails.

The original wiring may have been to a switched receptacle and the wiring for the fan/light may have been added later.
This may require some detective work to find out where the cables go.
 
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Old 08-20-09, 08:55 PM
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Just a couple of small points. The screw positions mean nothing. Manufacturers are free to put the screws where they want. Also there is no top or bottom on a 3-way or left or right so location on switch means nothing. It is the color of the screw that is important. You will have one odd color screw that is the common. You have two like colored screws. Those are the travelers.

As PCboss said they are using the switch to tie wires together. The better way is to wire-nut the wires together and pigtail to the switch. So things don't confused before doing anything label the wires that form pairs. You can tell the pairs because they will share a backstab and screw terminal. You might use a designation like "TA1 TA2" meaning wires 1 and two on traveler A. Of course your free to label anyway that makes sense to you.

I can think of no reason why a traveler would have two wires. If either does there may be a wrong connection. Did this ever work correctly?
 
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Old 08-20-09, 10:36 PM
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I should note that the switch is single pole. I'm not sure if this makes a difference or not.

As far as detective work goes. Are you suggesting that I pull the fan down and check the wires using a wire tester? I was hoping to avoid this. You know looking for the path of least resistance.

Thanks You.
 
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Old 08-21-09, 01:20 AM
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I should note that the switch is single pole. I'm not sure if this makes a difference or not.
Yes. From your description when I first read it I was thinking it was a single pole double throw (AKA 3-way switch) but rereading I see it is a single pole single throw. Are you saying you have just two screws on the switch and there are two wires fastened to each of those junction points for a total of four wires.?

If so I would disconnect and wire nut the wires to the screws. Then check to see if either the light or the fan still work from the switch. If either the fan or light works you can remove or cut the back stab wires and try the remaining two wires. If they work the function not worked by the other pair you just tested then you can safely assume what each pair works. Not sure how clear I was so post back if I didn't make that clear.

Once you have determined what each pair of wires does you can install a duplex switch.
 
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Old 08-21-09, 05:33 AM
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The switch is definetly a single-pole single throw switch. There are only two screws on the side. Additionally, I thought it odd that I didn't see a screw for the ground wire. (I did see the bare ground wire in the wiring box, however.

As for the wiring configuration. There were two black wires attached to the upper screw and a third black wire inserted into the back wire port.

A single red wire is attached to the lower screw and a second red wire is attached to the lower back wire port.

The light is controlled by the switch position, while the fan receives power regardless of the switch position. I do know that the fan wires are attached to the switch, because when I detached all of the wires from the switch, the fan no longer had power.

Last I put everything back in its original configuration and everything operates as it originally did.

The fact that there may be a switched outlet in the wiring scheme may throw a wrench into my idea of controlling the light with a combination switch that includes a dimmer for the light.

Thanks
 
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Old 08-21-09, 06:31 AM
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I am going to make some assumptions based on common wiring schemes.

One of the blacks is the power in, the other two blacks take power out to somewhere else.

Both of the reds are switched.

I would look to see if I could see a red wire attached to a receptacle. You make be able to see how the fan is wired just by dropping the canopy.

If you remove the red under the screw does the light not work? Please make all changes with the power off.

You could attempt the same thing with one of the blacks under the screws to see if you kill the power to the fan. Do these one at a time.

Post back.
 
 

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