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Electrical Wire and Cable

Replacement Ceiling Fan Wiring Configurations

How to Fix Ceiling Fan Wiring Problems: Common Problems with Ceiling Fan Wiring and How to Fix Them, Identify the Ceiling Fan Wires for the Right Connections, Wires for Ceiling Fan Light Fixtures, Wiring Connections that Cause a Tripped Circuit Breaker.

Home Electrical Wiring Video

How To Hook Up a Generator to the House Panel
Using a Circuit Breaker Interlock Kit
for Backup Power

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Guide to Wiring Connections when Replacing a Ceiling Fan
Electrical Question: I replaced a ceiling fan and when I turned it on the light worked but when I pulled the chain for the fan the circuit breaker tripped off.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you,

This electrical wiring question came from: Megan, a Homeowner from Brooklyn, New York.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical repair question Megan.

How to Fix Ceiling Fan Wiring Problems

ceiling fan wiring problems

Application: Wiring a Ceiling Fan.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced, Best performed by a Licensed Electrician or 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 location for the replacement ceiling fan.
Precaution: Identify the ceiling fan and outlet circuit, turn it OFF and Tag it with a Note before working with the wiring

Common Problems with Ceiling Fan Wiring and How to Fix Them

More about Wiring a Ceiling Fan

ceiling fan install
Ceiling Fan Installation

How to Install a Ceiling Fan and Wire the Switch

The following may also be helpful for you:

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» 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.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, 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.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
with my Online Video Course:
Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

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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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

9 Responses to “Replacement Ceiling Fan Wiring Configurations”
  1. Bob Welker says:

    I am replacing a ceiling light with a ceiling fan. The current light is controlled by one wall switch, yet the wiring in the ceiling box has a red wire in addition to the normal black, white and ground wires. The light had the black wire on the light attached to the red wire. The white wire on the light was attached to the white wire in the ceiling box. The black wire has a wire nut attached and is not used.

    Why is the red wire used and how do I attach my fan leads?

    Thanks for your help.

  2. Dave Rongey says:

    Bob, Some ceiling boxes are pre-wired for ceiling fans where separate switches may be used for the fan and light. In your case the red wires is the one being used, so the wires of the fan and light of the ceiling fan connect to that red wire. Note that you may install an additional switch if you so desire.

  3. Patrick says:

    I have a hunter ceiling fan no light 3 wire red,black, black/white where do i wire the black/white wire? or do I just cap it off?

  4. Dave Rongey says:

    If there is no light fixture with the hunter ceiling fan then you may still have the blue wire or another colored wire for the light fixture which is still provided so a fixture may be added in the future. You may either cap off the light fixture wire or connect it. The internal unused fixture wire should be capped off by the factory. Your ceiling wiring connections to the ceiling fan should be made to reflect the wall switch wiring configuration of the room.

  5. Trey Wells says:

    I am replacing my ceiling fan. My existing fan is operated by 2 switches, one controlling the light and one controlling the fan and speed. So I have a red, black and white wire coming from my box in the ceiling. My replacement fan has only a single black and white wire which appear to run through the fan motor to the light kit as well. I would like to be able to operate the light independently from the fan and utilize both switches on the wall. Fan directions say “light kit may be wired to additional wall switch if desired”. How do I wire my light to the separate switch? My first fan has an additional blue wire coming from the rod, so I’m wondering if the electrician added an additional wire and separated the light and fan inside the housing? Please help.

  6. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Trey,
    I must say that it is odd that there is not a blue wire or a separate wire for the light fixture of the ceiling fan, therefore it appears that you may have to install one yourself and make the separation. However, before you do that I would look in the instruction booklet and see if it does in fact show that a separate wire should be there as installed from the factory, and if so then I would return the ceiling fan and have it replaced, and inform the store that the first ceiling fan was not wired correctly from the factory.

  7. David says:

    I am installing a Hunter ceiling fan that has a light.
    The wires coming out of the fan are black, black and white, and white. The wires coming out of the ceiling are 2 black wires and 2 white wires and 2 copper bare wires on a single wall switch. When I try to wire the black wires including the black and white from the fan and wire the white wires together it bypasses the switch. How should I be wiring so the light and fan operate from the switch?

  8. Barry Cantrell says:

    I replaced the chain pull switch for the light,in so doing a red wire came loose. I can’t find were it goes. The light works but the fan doesn’t. I closed it up to recover. A few days later I think I’m rested enough to fix the fan, so when I was removing the light bulbs I discovered the wires to the porcelain base were charred, brittle, and frayed. We decided to replace the fan. I’m ready to put the new fan up, but I can’t remember what to do with the blue wire at the ceiling box. I think I join it to the black wire, is this correct? Honeywell did a good job making a plug connector for the light fixture to fan easy. They didn’t do a good job with the instruction book. So the blue and black together at the ceiling right?

  9. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Barry,
    When there is only a black wire, white wire and green or bare ground wire of the circuit wires leading to the ceiling fan, then yes, the blue light fixture wire of the ceiling fan connects to the black wire of the circuit wires.
    This will enable you to control the light fixture by using the pull chain switch on the ceiling fan.
    I hope this helps,