Should I call an electrician? Ceiling fan wiring question


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Old 12-12-20, 11:28 PM
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Should I call an electrician? Ceiling fan wiring question

Hi, I'm needing some help on installing a new ceiling fan. I took down the old fan and found the wiring to be different than I expected in the ceiling junction box.

Two things -
1) I'm definitely a noob, and I was expecting only 3 wires, now I suspect I have a switch loop? I noticed that coming into the pancake box are 2 black, 2 white, and 2 ground wires. The ground wires are wrapped together, but what threw me off was there is a black wire connected to a white wire with a wire nut. I checked the switch on the wall, and it's got a black wire, a white wire, and a ground connected to the box (not the switch itself).

2) The ceiling box is one of those expanding and jam into the joist types, but it's loose and shifts around - and the screws were not threading properly. I don't have attic access in this addition of the house (added in the 50's with a low sloping roof). Can I tighten/replace somehow?

BTW I capped the wires with the yellow wire nuts just to not leave them exposed.



Appreciate any help!!
 
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Old 12-13-20, 03:53 AM
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What you have is a switch loop. The white wire connected to the black is the hot down to the switch and the black from the switch is the return switch leg to the fan.

That box is not a fan rated box and needs to be replaced with one that is. You should not need attic access to replace the box/bracket.
 
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Old 12-13-20, 06:07 AM
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Hi, as stated, that is not a fan rated box, instead itís a bar box with a plaster ring, should be removed and a proper box installed.
Geo🇺🇸
 
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Old 12-13-20, 10:50 AM
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Thanks for the replies! I will remove the old box and replace it with a new one.

I'm going to rephrase what you said Tolyn, to make sure I understand -
The black wire (from the main house electrical panel) is attached to the white wire that goes down to the switch. Then the black wire from the switch attaches to the fan. The remaining white wire from the electrical panel attaches to the fan also.
The hot white wire feeding the switch should have black electrical tape identifying it as well correct?

Any tips on removing the box? Hammer them or cut them out?
Ground wires - untwist them, then retwist together into new box?

 
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Old 12-13-20, 12:43 PM
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That is an old style bar box. Remove the center screw should release the box from the bar. You can then push the bars out of the way. They need to be pushed far enough to not interfere with the new box. I use a short piece of conduit and a hammer to move them.

On a switch leg..... white is not called neutral. It is not a neutral. What you should do is tape the white wire a different color so that it's not confused as neutral. Black tape is ok. I use red or blue tape. Sharpie marker or nail polish can also be used.

The wiring connections are as you stated.
 
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Old 12-13-20, 01:44 PM
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The black wire (from the main house electrical panel) is attached to the white wire that goes down to the switch. Then the black wire from the switch attaches to the fan. The remaining white wire from the electrical panel attaches to the fan also.
The hot white wire feeding the switch should have black electrical tape identifying it as well correct?
That is correct. The reidentification of the white wire may have not been required when the switch loop was installed.

Ground wires - untwist them, then retwist together into new box?
The ground wires should also be connected to the box if it is metal using a pigtail.
 
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Old 12-14-20, 07:15 AM
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Thanks again all! You all should have a Patreon for your helpful tips.
I just got a new no contact voltage tester and it is getting a positive reading on the black switch leg, even with the switch off. (I was just testing the tool, not working on the circuit without the breaker turned off.)

Is this a phantom voltage perhaps, or anything I should be concerned about?
 
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Old 12-14-20, 11:29 AM
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Yes.... that would be an induced or ghost voltage. One wire is hot and the other is not.
Since they are run parallel to each other.... you will see a lower voltage on the non live side.
 
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Old 12-19-20, 11:57 AM
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Happy Saturday y'all. I managed to get the box out of the ceiling. It was too big for the hole, so had to saw the plaster a bit. It leads me to believe this was installed before the plaster went up on the ceiling. Plus, pictured below you can see the bar for the old box is attached to the joists with a metal bracket. Not sure how I'm going to get it out.
Would you cut it? But it would still be in the way of the new bar/box. Perhaps take a large square out of the plaster, dismantle the bracket, then re-plaster?




 
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Old 12-19-20, 06:06 PM
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That is a nail-on bar box and is used for new work. It was installed before the ceiling was finished.

Depending on which box you use.... you may be able to just bend that bar out of the way as the new bar will grab the joist below that bar and staple. If you want to pull the staple...... cut the bar in the center(red line). Bend it in a 90, grab it with a ViseGrips and hit the ViseGrips with a hammer.

 
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Old 12-22-20, 01:32 PM
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PJmax, thanks for the great tips and the diagram.
I have the RACO 936 for the new fan box, but I can't get it to fit.
https://www.lowes.com/pd/RACO-1-Gang...al-Box/3127059

I attempted to install it beneath the old bar, but it's shortest length is not allowing me to place it between the joists. It just simply will not fit, it's getting caught on it's teeth and I can't get it to sit completely perpendicular to the joists. Removing the old bar wouldn't help as I tried to just fit it side by side and that didn't work either.

My thought now is, that old bar is in there very strong and it's not coming out.
Can I get an electrical box that's fan rated that could take advantage of the old bar?
 
 

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