Knob and tube ceiling fan replacement

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Old 01-25-14, 04:09 PM
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Knob and tube ceiling fan replacement

I'm looking to replace a bedroom ceiling fan from a ugly 1990s style fan with no light to a modern one with a light. I have knob and tube wiring in the house and I am by no means an electrician, so I'm looking for help to make sure I don't mess this up.

I shut off the power at the breaker box and at the switch, then disassembled the fan blades and removed the cover. The wiring is where I'm losing my confidence. I haven't removed the base of the fan because I haven't messed with the wires at all.

Can someone help me identify what's what? Because I have KnT wiring, there are only two, similar black wires coming out of the ceiling. One wire is connected by a orange wire nut to a single white wire. The 2nd house wire is connected by a white nut along with a black wire and a blue wire.

I have no idea what is what, I can't confirm if any colors were used correctly, if there's even a ground or anything. This was all done before I moved in.

The angles aren't the best, but I'm including a couple pictures to show what I have.

Any insight, and tips for a 1st timer removing and installing the new one, I would be really appreciative. Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 01-25-14, 04:47 PM
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That's pretty scary looking. Is there attic access above?

The insulation appears to be frayed to a dangerous degree right where it comes through the plaster. It would be in your best interest to replace at least that section. It can be done legally and safely, but it will require access from above. Depending on if there is any slack in the wires, it could be done from below, but it will require cutting and then replastering the ceiling.

I also assume that the fan bracket is screwed to a joist? (please say yes)..
 
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Old 01-25-14, 04:59 PM
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No attic at all, it's the top floor of a Philly row house.
 
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Old 01-25-14, 05:09 PM
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And as far as the bracket, I'm not sure, I mean, it's just screwed into the plaster ceiling. Can't confirm what's inside of it.
 
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Old 01-25-14, 06:48 PM
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Ooof.. You own or rent?

If you own the place, my suggestion is to open up the ceiling between those two joists (a 16"x16" square) and mount a rated fan bracket between the joists. You MAY be able to get the existing wires through grommets into the fan box. If the wires do not reach, they can be extended IF DONE PROPERLY. "Properly" involves having at least one extra junction box that remains accessible (would have to be a blank plate on the ceiling). Exactly how you will do it depends on how the wiring runs to that particular spot.

Is this fixture controlled by a switch on the wall or is the circuit always on and you just use the pull chains?
 
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Old 01-25-14, 07:41 PM
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I own.

The fan is connected to a wall switch.

I just wanted to put a new fan in, and now I'm looking at recommendations to open up my ceiling. Appreciate the advice, but I'm definitely feeling down. It's not a project I am capable of doing or affording at this point.
 
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Old 01-25-14, 08:10 PM
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I know it sucks, but I am going by what I see in the pictures.. The problem with K&T is that with how old it is, it is usually fine until someone disturbs it. Fires generally don't start in K&T that has not been messed with. They start in K&T that has been illegally tapped, or disturbed in a way that causes the insulation to fray and crumble.

I believe that is what happened when the original fan was installed and the wires were folded up like that. The insulation appears to have cracked at the point the wires were folded.

Also, if the fan is not screwed into a joist and it is just hanging on the lath, it could fall.

Repairing a plaster hole like that sucks, but it isn't that awful. You can usually do it with a piece of drywall of the appropriate thickness and some joint compound. You're talking $50 or less for the repair.

I disclaim all liability if you choose to go ahead from this point without making repairs, but a new fan will hook up exactly the same way. The blue wire is the light hot, the black wire is the fan hot. Just make sure you turn off power at the breaker box, not just the switch. Some K&T wiring switches the neutral in lighting circuits, so the hot would still zap you with the switch off.
 
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