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Electrical Wire and Cable

How to Wire a Ceiling Fan in an Older Home

February 13, 2018 by: Dave Rongey

I am installing a ceiling fan in an old home where there are three wires in the box, how should I connect the wires? How to Connect the Wires Ceiling Fan in an Older Home: The Process for Identifying Wires for a Ceiling Fan.

Connecting Old Electrical Wires to a Ceiling Fan
Electrical Question #1 I am installing a ceiling fan in an old home where there are three wires in the box, how should I connect the wires?

I live in a very old house, about 100 years old, and I am trying to replace a light fixture with a ceiling fan. I’ve followed the necessary steps by getting the mounting bracket in place, installing the light box, pulling through the wires, and now I stop to tell you that three different wires are coming together at this juncture and this throws me off since I have no idea where these wires are leading to. I proceed with the wiring as following the instructions of the ceiling fan; connect everything together and flipped the switch, and then a buzzing sound came from the light switch. I turned off the power to the room and now the ceiling lights in four rooms, all upstairs, do not work, but the outlets work fine. I’ve put the wires back to their original messed up configuration and still nothing works.

This old home electric wiring question came from: Chuck, in Brownville, Maine.

Electrical Question #2

This electrical wiring question came from Martha, a Handywoman in Kissimmee, Florida.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical wiring questions.

Wiring a Ceiling Fan in an Older Home

How to Connect the Wires Ceiling Fan in an Older Home

Example: The Process for Identifying Wires for a Ceiling Fan

What to do with a Spare Wire

There are several reasons why there may be a spare wire, including the following:

More about Wiring Ceiling Fans


Additional Resources

Using Electrical Testers


» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.

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Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handywomen, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

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