Prepping for ceiling fan; need to understand existing wiring

Old 08-11-18, 02:40 PM
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Prepping for ceiling fan; need to understand existing wiring

I'm hoping to replace some track lighting with a ceiling fan w/light in a small bedroom. As preparation, I removed the track lighting to get a look at the electrical box and it's more complicated than I expected; I was hoping someone might be able to give me some insight as to what is going on here.

The room has a single light switch with a dimmer. As far as I can tell, the track light is the only thing controlled by that switch. The box has four openings in the top with wires coming through, gathered into bundles and twisted off with a cap. Two of those wires (one blue and one white) were attached to the track lighting. Here are links to photos and a wiring diagram:

Photo 1
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Photo 2
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Wiring Diagram
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So, here are my questions:
  1. Does this electrical box look like it can handle a ceiling fan? It feels rock solid when I try to wiggle it. Should it have more attachment points for screws?
  2. Can anyone explain to me why there are so many wires going through this box? I'm a competent mechanical engineer but don't know much about electrical. I haven't installed a ceiling fan before - am I going to need to attach more than just the two wires that were hooked up to the track light?
  3. I feel like this box (and the track light?) should have a grounding wire attached to it somewhere, but I don't see one. Should I be concerned about this?

Thanks in advance for your help.
- Brian

Last edited by PJmax; 08-11-18 at 06:01 PM. Reason: added pics from links
Old 08-11-18, 02:50 PM
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1) No. That is not a fan rated box. I can tell because it only thin metal mud ring as an attachment. A fan rated box will have 10-32 screw holes, or openings to wood framing.

2) In that box you have two hots (Likely a multi wire circuit), a neutral, and switch leg for the light. This is quite normal.

3) The grounding path is the steel box and steel conduit going through the walls. You can check this by measuring the voltage between one hot wire to the metal box with a meter. You should get 120 volts if it is grounded.
Old 08-11-18, 04:03 PM
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Thanks for the quick response!

Some quick searching suggests that the mud ring is a face plate for the junction box. Can I replace that plate with something appropriate for a ceiling fan, or do I need to replace the entire box? If I can replace the plate, what is the name of the replacement I should be looking for?
Old 08-11-18, 06:03 PM
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The problem replacing the box is that you have four conduits to consider. That's not a problem with above ceiling access but I'm guessing you don't have that. It's the two screws on the existing box that are the weak link.

I see some type of "stud" in the center of that box so it may be a bar box.
A bar box is not the strongest mounting system for a fan. This would be a replacement box.
garvin-54171-fan box.aspx

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