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Old 02-23-2011, 02:48 PM   #1
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Ceiling Fan Wiring Problem


I just bought a house that had a chandelier in the (now) MBR. I want to remove the chandelier and replace it with a ceiling fan.

Removal of the chandelier went fine, removed the old junction box and replaced with a newer ceiling fan rated one. Now I'm to the wiring stage and am a bit stumped.

When we took down the chandelier, there were 2 bundles of 3 wires ea + the ground wired to it.

I snapped a photo:


Don't pay any attention to the colors of the caps, they aren't color coded or anything like that.

When we removed the chandelier, it was wired like this:


When we went to hook up the wires, a NC tester showed 4 of the 6 to be hot wires. We tested multiple times with the wires spread out in a star shape to minimize interference, but kept getting the same result. If that were the case, wouldn't there have been a short in the previous wiring?

I assume that the NC tester was giving a false positive and there is actually 1 hot wire and 1 neutral and the other 2 of each are pigtailing off of the light connection to another connection, would that be correct? And if that is the case, why would the outlets in the room function correctly even when the light was dimmed or off?

I'm going back tonight with a multimeter to determine exactly which wire is hot, but then I still need to determine which pigtailed wires are hot vs. neutral, correct?

Edit: I should add that this is a 1950's house with BX cabling, no colored wires here

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Old 02-23-2011, 03:04 PM   #2
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Ceiling Fan Wiring Problem


NC testers are really only good for identifying live wires. I wouldn't use one for troubleshooting. Use your multimeter if you don't know which wires went together before. The receptacles could might be on a different circuit or they might have a constant feed. Not all receptacles are switched.

Also, it looks like your wires are coming directly into your fan canopy. Is there a box there? I know you said you replaced it with a fan rated box, I just don't see it. All connections are supposed to be made within the actual ceiling box and not the fixture (unless its rated as a junction box).

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Old 02-23-2011, 03:14 PM   #3
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Ceiling Fan Wiring Problem


My understanding is that once I make the connections to the fan, I need to push the wires up through the fan ceiling plate back into the junction box before mounting the fan.
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Old 02-23-2011, 03:17 PM   #4
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Ceiling Fan Wiring Problem


well you know the green is ground, so use a multimeter and connect each wire to the ground wire. if you get around 120 volts, you know it's hot.
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Old 02-23-2011, 03:21 PM   #5
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Ceiling Fan Wiring Problem


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Originally Posted by NitroNate View Post
well you know the green is ground, so use a multimeter and connect each wire to the ground wire. if you get around 120 volts, you know it's hot.
I get that, but how do I identify which of the 5 other wires is supposed to be (what I assume is) a pigtailed hot line?
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Old 02-23-2011, 05:38 PM   #6
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Ceiling Fan Wiring Problem


I count six conductors not including the fixture ground. Which were connected together or don't you know? I see tape marking the individual wires. If it worked fine before, it will work the same with the fan.
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Old 02-23-2011, 05:43 PM   #7
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Ceiling Fan Wiring Problem


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Originally Posted by iminaquagmire View Post
I count six conductors not including the fixture ground. Which were connected together or don't you know? I see tape marking the individual wires. If it worked fine before, it will work the same with the fan.
Therein lies the problem- 2 of the labels fell off when the wires were passed into the new junction box.
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Old 02-23-2011, 06:19 PM   #8
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Ceiling Fan Wiring Problem


Test each wire to ground (as above), flip the switch, test again.

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