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Thread: need help with ceiling fan wiring problem

  1. #1
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    Default need help with ceiling fan wiring problem

    OK,

    we have a ceiling fan with light connected to a dimmer switch in one of our rooms. I had a friend over one day and we decided to replace the old fan with a new one. I took down the old fan and read the wiring details to my friend, who wrote them down. However, he is a dirty hippy and writes like a scrub, so we couldn't read it when we were trying to hook up the new fan...

    So basically I had to guess at the wiring. I wired it up (see below), and when I first turned the power back on there was a loud spark/short in the fan (this doesn't happen anymore though - did I wreck something?). The dimmer switch in the wall doesn't work to operate the fan, however you can operate the fan and light manually with the pull cords on the unit. This all happened about 4 months ago, and i've been lazy so the details of why i wired it like I did are hazy.

    Ideally, we would like the dimmer switch to control just the light portion of the fan, and have the fan manually operated by the pull chain (but 'always on' even with the dimmer switch off).

    So here is the situation:
    4 wires come out of the fan: black (hot power for fan), red (hot power for light), white (common for light and fan) and green (ground).

    7 wires come out of the junction box in the ceiling: 1 yellow, 3 white, 1 black, and 2 red. In the junction box, wires enter from three sides. from the first side, 1 yellow, 1 white, and 1 red enter. from the second side, 1 white and 1 black wire enter. From the third side, 1 red and 1 white enter.

    The yellow wire is connected to the green wire from the fan.

    The 3 white wires in the ceiling are twisted together (looks like they've been together for a long time), and these are currently connected to the white wire from the fan.

    The black and 2 red wires in the ceiling are twisted together (it looks like the 2 red wires have been connected for a long time, and that the black has been recently added), and connected to the red and black wires from the fan. i'm certain that there is a problem with something here.

    So, i guess i'm wondering if anyone knows what all the wires are for in the junction box. can anyone identify which aires are for the switch, etc?

    thanks
    Last edited by nonlinear; 09-27-2008 at 04:36 PM.

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    OK, so I took another look at the wires, and I think the 3 white wires in the ceiling are actually black, but were sprayed white when they were spraying the ceiling. cause I can kinda scrape the white off and it's black underneath.

    these three wires have been twisted together for a long time though

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    OK, well i think i figured it out for the most part. i realized that the yellow wire comes back from the wall switch, so that needed to be connected to the 'hot' wire for the light.

    there doesn't seem to be a ground wire in the junction box, however. is there a designated color for this? or, is there a chance that there isn't a ground? can i just ground to the junction box?

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    Ground wires are bare, you should have some bare copper wires twisted together at the top of the box, with at least one of them underneath a screw.

    Older houses they would attach ground wires to the BACK of the box, or outside of where you can see, in these houses you should just ground your fixture to the box itself. If your house is even older than that and has no ground wires, you're already playing russian roulette.
    Originally posted by Vagabond142
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    Oh, and a short in the fan usually means you pinched a wire with the pin in the down-rod. When you connect the rod down to the fan you then put a pin through it to hold it in place, it's really easy to pinch wires when you push that pin through. If there is no down-rod then you have a bare wire or another short.

    Did you damage anything? Likely, one of the wires is now missing a significant amount of well, wire. You need to find which one. The blast mark should help you find it.
    Originally posted by Vagabond142
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    hey man,

    thanks for the help! The fan is up and working properly, however there were no bare wires in the box. This is a late-60s condo, would that be the right era for the ground wires to be connected to the back of the box?

    cheers,
    non.

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    Couldn't put exact years on it since it was all before I was born, but I'd say 60's would be about the right era for it. My house is from the late 50's and all the ground wires were on the back of the boxes when we ripped them all out.

    Just ground the fan to the box, if it is grounded, great, if not, there is nothing you could really do about it without re-wiring the whole place anyways.


    Wait, condo, if it is a concrete building they would have used metal conduit in the slab, and that will act as the ground. No ground wires required there.
    Originally posted by Vagabond142
    Is the best game. Ever. In everness. It is more awesome than a robot caveman punching God in the dick. It is that awesome

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    yea, it's a copncrete building!

    thanks man!

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    Yeah you are set then, the conduit in the slab should all be metal. Now they will often use plastic conduit and boxes, and with these they need to carry ground wires. This is why I didn't think of it right away. Have only been in electrical for 7 years now, hardly an old-timer


    Check the wires in the down-rod. If pinched and they shorted out once, they are likely just a hair from shorting out again.
    Originally posted by Vagabond142
    Is the best game. Ever. In everness. It is more awesome than a robot caveman punching God in the dick. It is that awesome

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