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How To Solve Ceiling Fan Wiring Problems

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

How Can I Fix a Problem with my Ceiling Fan and Switch Wiring? How to Identify Ceiling Fan and Light Switch Wiring, Troubleshoot and Repair Ceiling Fan and Switch Wiring Problems.

Ceiling Fan and Switch Wiring Problems

Electrical Question:How Can I Fix a Problem with my Ceiling Fan and Switch Wiring?

I have a ceiling fan with a light that was controlled by a 2 switch outlet.

Any clues as to what I can do next?

Background: Jeff, a Handyman from Daphne, Alabama.

Additional Comments: Great site for simple to complex wiring issues!

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Jeff.

How to Identify Ceiling Fan and Light Switch Wiring

Application: Ceiling Fan Electrical Wiring.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best performed by a Licensed Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, a non-aluminum ladder and Voltage Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and access to the switched outlet wiring and the proposed location for the ceiling fan.
Precaution: Identify the switched outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring.
Notice: Installing additional electrical wiring for a ceiling fan should be done according to local and national electrical codes with a permit and be inspected.

Ceiling Fan and Light Switch Wiring Configuration

  1. Identify the Power Source, typically a black for power, white for neutral, and a ground.
  2. We know that we need the power, and that the power is looped down to a switch using another cable.
  3. For conventional switching the “Neutral” is not used in the switching process, however “the white wire” is often used and should be identified with black tape or marker.
  4. Neutrals are shared for the ceiling fan motor and the ceiling fan light.
  5. All of the ground wires are bonded together and connected to switches and the ceiling fan.

The switching becomes clear when you focus on where the power enters and the route it takes to accomplish the switching.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

8 Responses to “How To Solve Ceiling Fan Wiring Problems”
  1. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Tom,
    From what you have described one of the pairs of wires at the ceiling box is the circuit power, and the other is used for the wall switch.
    A voltage tester may be used to identify which of the two pairs of wires is the circuit power. The white switch wire should be colored with black electrical tape and then connected to the circuit power wire. The remaining black and white wire connect to the ceiling fan wires.

    Be sure to turn off the circuit breaker for this circuit before making any wiring connections, and of course for best results consult a local licensed electrician.
    Be Safe,

  2. Tom says:

    I am replacing an existing ceiling light with a new ceiling fan that has a light fixture. The ceiling light is controlled by a wall switch which has a black wire and white wire. The ceiling box has 2 black wires and 2 white wires, plus the ground wire. I connected the fan’s black and blue wires to the 2 black fixture wires with a wire nut. Then I connected the fan’s white wire to 2 fixture white wires. The fan and light operate, but the wall switch doesn’t affect them, so there is no on or off control, even though the same switch operated the old ceiling light. In other words, the fan runs continually. Any idea what I’m missing?

  3. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi William,
    From what you have described, the old fixture does not have typical wiring, therefore more information would need to be obtained. The old fixture wiring may be verified using a voltage tester, or multimeter.

  4. william pierson says:

    I am trying to wire a new ceiling fan with light to an old fixture. The new fan has black, blue, white and green. The old fixture has white with grey, white with black, white with white and blue and green.

  5. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Wayne,
    The presence of a red wire in the ceiling fan box typically indicates that there is a dedicated wall switch for the light of the ceiling fan, so in this case the blue wire of the ceiling fan should connect to the red wire.
    Also, don’t overlook the pull chain switches on the ceiling fan which will operate the fan speed and the light as well. These pull chain switches will be the overriding controls for the ceiling fan functions.
    I hope this helps,

  6. Wayne says:

    I just bought a new home and decided to install the ceiling fans myself. The instructions guided me through well enough for the fan to work, but the light fixture will not work. I followed the instructions by hooking the blue and black wires from the fan to the black wire and the white to white and green to the ground. I was left with one red wire from the house. How do I get the light to work? Do I need to connect the red wire to the blue wire from the fan? Thanks!

  7. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Dottie,
    This question has been posted.
    I believe you may have a pinched wire when the fan assembly is being mounted.
    Make sure the wires are clear and not getting pinched or damaged.

  8. Dottie gladden says:

    Having problems installing new ceiling fan. Trying to replace a ceiling fan in a room and the new fan is tripping the breaker. Old fan had white, black, blue, and green wires and also does new fan. Before removing old fan pulled wires out and removed old fan wires making sure I knew where each wire went. Put new fan together then put wiring together, turned power on then switched on light and breaker trip right away, checked wires to make sure white w/ white black/blue with black, and green to green, they where, so took them apart reconnected them, tripped again, flipped wires just in case tripped breaker, removed fan, put old fan up worked just fine, put new fan up again tripped again, took back to store got new fan put new fan all together same problem again and again, put up a new light fixture worked just fine, took second fan back got totally different brand of fan and still the breaker is tripping. Don’t understand what the problem could be please could you give me some insight