Ceiling fan junction box has 3 groups of wires??

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Old 02-10-10, 02:06 PM
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Ceiling fan junction box has 3 groups of wires??

I will start off by saying I have installed several ceiling fans before. My wife and I just bought a new house....the big basement room is kinda divided into two halves. Each half has 6 recessed lights controlled by one switch. So the entire room has 12 recessed lights, and two light switches.

There is covered ceiling junction box in each half of the room (right in the middle where a ceiling fan would go). I took off the cover where I want to put the ceiling fan and noticed there are 3 wire bundles running into the junction box. Each bundle has red/black/white.

How do I make sense out of this? I was expecting to see one wire bundle....not 3. How do I figure which one to use? I dont need the fan to be operated by a wall switch...we are getting a remote control fan, so don't care about the wall switch.
 
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Old 02-10-10, 03:26 PM
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Are any of the wires connected together? Do you have any 3-way switches? If not then use a analog multimeter or test light or solenoid voltage tester to determine if any of the groups of wires have an always hot black and white or red and white pairs.

If any wires are connected together post back the connections before proceeding.
 
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Old 02-10-10, 03:36 PM
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Nope, none are connected together. No 3-way switches either.

Can i use my digital multimeter to test if there are any hot wires?
 
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Old 02-10-10, 04:59 PM
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Yes, you can use your digital but remember anything less then 100v may be a false reading.
 
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Old 02-10-10, 06:26 PM
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You can use the digital voltmeter to verify the power however for myself I like to use neon test light so that way you don't get the " ghost " voltage show up with DVM

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 02-11-10, 06:37 AM
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Cool, thanks guys! I will pick up test light.
One final question....they did tons of renovation to the house before we moved in. The ends of all the wires have some paint on them. Is it ok if I just use my wire cutters to clip the ends to get a good reading with the test light? Then I can just cap them when i am done testing.
 
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Old 02-11-10, 10:54 AM
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I would strongly advise you to cut the main breaker if you have to cut and strip the wires. The catch 22 is you can't be sure if you have the right breaker before you strip so there is no way to know which individual breaker is correct. A non-contact tester might work here but I wouldn't trust it.

Frankly I'd be a bit surprised if any are live. Normally your live cable will be 2-conductor. Of course they might have just used what they had. There are probably other possible combinations such as 3-way switches which might require three 3-conductor cables but it is a bit odd.
 
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Old 02-13-10, 02:16 PM
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is this a drop ceiling or drywall? if its a drop lift the tiles and start tracing wires. it would be nice to know what all the wires are for in the future my guess is one wire could be a switch leg coming from your switches one might be linking the two boxes and one might be power coming in
 
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Old 02-13-10, 04:35 PM
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Its a drywall ceiling, which makes tracing them almost impossible.

I just looked again...still havent tested anything....and they each have four wires (red, black, white, and bare copper). Not sure if that changes anything. Guess I still need to test each one and see what I have.

Thanks again for all the help guys!
 
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Old 03-03-10, 04:17 PM
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So I got a test light. Since the wires were painted on the ends....I cut the end of the black wire. I touched one end of the test light to the very tip of the exposed black wire, and the other to the bare copper....no light....on all three bundles. Also used my digital multimeter...0 reading on all 3 bundles. I also made sure the lights were on in case any of the bundles were switched.

So is it possible that I wasnt getting enough contact just on the very tip of the black wire?

Why would all 3 be dead? I dont really understand the point of that. Would there be a way to pull power from one of the nearby recessed lights? Or would that mean that my fan could only be on when the lights are on?
 
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Old 03-04-10, 01:57 PM
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the bundles probably end up at your switch boxes and then between the the different junction boxes in the ceiling
 
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Old 03-04-10, 03:31 PM
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So it sounds like when they renovated the house before we moved in....they removed the ceiling light, and covered that junction box (where i am seeing the three bundles)...then they installed the recessed lights, and ran those wires to the switches and disconnected the old wiring? So if I open up the box where the switches are and see some wire bundles dangling there, it would be a matter of matching them from the wall to the ceiling, and then could I somehow tap power from one of those switches to give power to the ones in the ceiling?
 
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Old 03-04-10, 03:54 PM
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Open the switch box and report back how many 2-conductor cables and how many 3-conductor cables and how they are connected.
 
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Old 03-05-10, 07:48 AM
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So I checked last night at the switches....there are 3 wire bundles running to the junction box....all three have 3 wires (black, white, bare copper). They do not look the same as what's in the ceiling junction box. The junction box for the switches is new though....but its one of those where I would literally have to tear it out to see if I can find some other wires hanging out back there....I guess the saga continues.
 
 

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