13 wires coming from the ceiling. Please HELP!!

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Old 03-03-14, 02:01 PM
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13 wires coming from the ceiling. Please HELP!!

Here's the problem, we have a 2-way switch for 2 ceiling fans with lights that we want to replace with a light fixture only. I took down one of the ceiling fan and there are 13 wires hanging from the ceiling (4 blacks, 4 whites, 4 grounds, and 1 red). Then I untied all wire nuts and now there is another light fixture outside the porch doesn't work too. I assume the porch light is sharing the power with the ceiling fans with lights.

From my assumption wires set:

set 1: light switch 1
set 2: light switch 2
set 3: connection from 2 ceiling fans with lights
set 4: Porch light (assume they share power source between the ceiling fans and porch light)
 
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Old 03-03-14, 02:55 PM
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You made this way harder when you unmade all the splices. Now you are going to need to find the function and destination of every cable. I hope you can remember what the fan connections were. Was the fan operated by pull chains or a wall switch?
 
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Old 03-03-14, 04:16 PM
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the fan is operated by pull chains
 
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Old 03-03-14, 04:21 PM
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Then I untied all wire nuts
And my heart sank........ As Jim said, you got a long row to hoe, full of rocks. With the power off, you'll have to trace every cable to its origin. Don't forget some black and white wires in a cable may be a switch loop, making the white wire technically a black wire. Although they should be marked accordingly with colored tape, seldom is it done in older applications. Good luck and let us know how we can help further. Posting pictures of your ceiling box may help as well. Taking a picture at the beginning would have made it easier on you, but then we wouldn't have met. Welcome to the forums!!
 
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Old 03-03-14, 07:39 PM
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we have a 2-way switch for 2 ceiling fans with lights that we want to replace with a light fixture only.
There are no 2-way switches. I'll assume you mean an on/off switch since you didn't mention a second switch controlling the fans and/or lights.

It sounds like you're planning to replace two fan/light combo units with two light fixtures controlled by one switch. Is that right?

Then I untied all wire nuts and now there is another light fixture outside the porch doesn't work too. I assume the porch light is sharing the power with the ceiling fans with lights.
No assumption needed for the power for the porch light. If it was working before you undid all the splices in one of the ceiling boxes and it isn't working now, it is not only on the same circuit, the power feed for it is spliced to the power feed from the panel in the box you took apart.

From my assumption wires set:

set 1: light switch 1
set 2: light switch 2
set 3: connection from 2 ceiling fans with lights
set 4: Porch light (assume they share power source between the ceiling fans and porch light)
Electrical systems work by design, not by assumption. Now that you've taken apart some of the evidence you had for the design of yours, you'll have to investigate and test to rediscover the way it's intended to be wired.

Start by removing the second fan. Before you lower it, note the number of wires and the color of each in the box above the fan. Note how they're connected together and which of them connects to each wire for the fan/light combo. Disconnect the wires for the fan/light combo and dismount it. Leave any existing splices in the ceiling box still spliced.

How is the porch light controlled? If there's a switch for it, pull that switch far enough out of the wall to be able to see all of the wires connected to it and any wires tucked into the box behind the switch. Don't disconnect any wires at this switch yet -- just pull it out and observe how everything is connected.
 
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Old 03-04-14, 10:16 AM
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thanks guys,

I think is very complicated to trace back everything since it is a very old house. I am thinking to rewire them by myself up in the attic and split the power supply to feed both the fixture and porch light and also making the kitchen light a 3 way switch with only one light fixture (no fans anymore) and patch the other area where it was another ceiling fan. Do you think that will be a much better solution than just trying to figure out the wires from other electricians?

Thanks for all the advises and please let me know if you have other suggestions too
 
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Old 03-04-14, 11:21 AM
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Before tracing the wires to the ceiling using a multimeter determine which cable is hot. Mark the cable and cap the wires. In the examples below do not test that cable.

Example of tracing a cable: At the switch you have only one cable. With breaker off you turn the switch on. At the ceiling you test the black and white of each cable for continuity using the resistance (ohms) setting of a multimeter. Verify by having a friend flip the switch off and on as you watch the meter with the leads on the black and white wires. It should go from continuity to no continuity.

Example of tracing a cable: At the switch you have two cables with the whites connected together and blacks on the switch. With breaker off you disconnect both cables. With breaker on you test which cable is hot using a multimeter set to volts. You mark the cable as hot. With the breaker off you connect the black and white of the cable that is not hot to the switch. Test each cable at the ceiling for continuity using your multimeter. Verify by having a friend flip the switch off and on as you watch the meter with the leads on the black and white wires. It should go from continuity to no continuity. If two are more cables at the switch but none hot test both for all to the ceiling.

Receptacles are tested similarly. If two cables test if one is hot. If neither is test both for continuity to the ceiling and switch boxes.
 
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Old 03-04-14, 11:30 AM
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I think is very complicated to trace back everything since it is a very old house.
Age does not affect the function of a conductor. I have difficulty imagining that it would take more than 30 minutes to identify the function of each conductor in each of the 4 or 5 boxes involved.

I am thinking to rewire them by myself up in the attic and split the power supply to feed both the fixture and porch light and also making the kitchen light a 3 way switch with only one light fixture (no fans anymore) and patch the other area where it was another ceiling fan. Do you think that will be a much better solution than just trying to figure out the wires from other electricians?
No. I think that would be more difficult. Besides the work of installing the new wiring, you will still need to identify the function of the existing conductors so that you can safely connect or abandon those, and then you will have to do the work that that requires.

You may not be able to simply patch over the box and wiring at the second fan location, for example.
 
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