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High-Voltage
High-Voltage, .
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I have 4 sets of wires coming into a switch box with two switches.

Customer Question

I have 4 sets of wires coming into a switch box with two switches. Two are 14/2 and two are 14/3 and at least on of the switches runs a ceiling fan and the other switches an outlet on the wall. I just bought a light kit for my ceiling fan, but cannot get the fan to work when the light works and vice versa. I think it has something to do with the switches and the wiring coming into the fan. I have attached the black to black, white to white and green to green and red to black/grey striped on the fan. What am I doing wrong?

Is one of the switches also running the fan/light?

Thanks
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

hi, i will be glad to assist you but first i have some questions:

do you have a voltage meter w/ a voltage reading output?

also, how do you want to control your fan and light?different switches?



Edited by High-Voltage on 1/17/2010 at 2:32 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I do have a voltage meter of sorts - I would like to control the fan and the light with different switches
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.
ok...do you have the switch box open?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
yes
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

ok....with the way you described what these switches control....you should have all your whites together....right? And all your grounds together....right? These are the only switches in my understanding of your information that control what you said they control....right?

***sorry for the delay in my response...my laptop battery died...

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
That's correct in the switch box all of the whites are tied together and all of the grounds are tied together.
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.
very good...and both black from the 14/2's are together with a black on only 1 of the 14/3's , and also tie to the two switches....correct?

Edited by High-Voltage on 1/17/2010 at 2:53 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
No not exactly. All of the blacks from the 14/2's as well as the 14/3's are together with blacks coming out of that tie to each of the switches.
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.
ahh...no good....that means you have constant 120 volts at the fan on the black wire....right? can you check that with your meter please.

Edited by High-Voltage on 1/17/2010 at 3:00 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I guess so - what now?
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.
can u check that with your meter to confirm please?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok - I just checked. The RED wire coming into the fan is the one with the 120 volts but only when the one switch is turned on. The black does not register any charge with the switch off or on.
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

ok....what happens when you turn the other switch on? does it do anything to the black at the fan?(it shouldn't, but let's see)

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yeah - nothing happens to the black at the fan when I turn the other switch on.
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.
I didn't think it would....can u check(in the switchbox) all the connections to be tight? and tug a little on all wires to make sure they are secure?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes - all good - all tight.
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.
also...out of curiosity...do you have any "mystery" switches in that area?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Nope -
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

what is above this room? Attic I hope....

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Yes - attic

Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

sorry...computer again...

heres what you need to do at this point....(and you can get back to me in the morning after you do this if you would like- just by replying back to this post)

-you need to go in the attic above, locate the wire that goes from the fan box to down the wall...and let me know if there is a junction box in between, and/or if the wire(think of your house structurally) does not go down near where that switch would be....

and let me know what you find out....

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok - I will check it and get back to you in the morning. Thanks for your help so far.
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.
absolutely...that's what we are here for....have a good night....Smile
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Ok - I just checked the attic and there are no junction boxes between the wire leading from the switch to the fan. I am getting ready to head off to church - but will check back later in the day for further advice.

 

Thanks

Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

Here's the problem with what I see in regards XXXXX XXXXX black wire not having power:

Either

A)Your not testing it with a good "black conductor to probe on meter" connection at the fan

B)The black is loose in the switchbox...but you confirmed it wasn't

C)(Very unlikely, but possible) The black is damaged somewhere in the attic or down the wall or in one of the boxes

D)The fan 14/3 goes to another box before it gets to the switchbox we were referring to.

***We need to get that black figured out before we can go further(Why is it hooked into power at the switch, but not having power at the fan)...No choice.

-Let me know what you come up with...If you are out of ideas, let me know that too and I will try to think of some more....but that's really it.

***By the way, when you checked for a junction box did you "think of your house structurally" to see where the wire goes down the wall in relation to the switchbox we were talking about?

***What kind of wires go into the fan box? Just the one 14/3? Or are there more?



Edited by High-Voltage on 1/17/2010 at 2:16 PM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok - there is only one wire (the 14/3) going into the fan box and no other wires.
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

yeah?...hmm....then that black conductor has managed to make its way elswhere(another box or something--or possibly what i suggested in my last reply after you were at church-see if you can investigate those things.) AND

try this....Make sure when you check the black and white in the fan box...you get a good connection to your meter...let me know what you see/ find out

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi - I have re-checked everything you mentioned. The only wire that I get a reading on is the red wire in the fan box. I disconnected it from the fan entirely too. I likewise disconnected the switch which turned on fan/light and then re-checked th fan box and none of the wires have power (as I expected).

 

We know that the wire from the switch (14/3) goes directly to the fan box and has no other junctions boxes in between. I am wondering what the other three wires in the switch box are connected to. I know that the second switch used to power-on an outlet on the wall (which is now blocked from testing by a shelving unit) - but I assumed it was there with the 14/3 wire in order to run the fan or the light.

 

Thoughts?

Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

The way you described earlier in this post, that black conductor we are talking about now should very well have power on it.

You said:

"No not exactly. All of the blacks from the 14/2's as well as the 14/3's are together with blacks coming out of that tie to each of the switches."

 

And if that is the case, that tells me there is a problem here with the black we are talking about....

What you said tells me that yes one black goes to your "always on" recepticles, one black is your "always on" power in, one black is "power out", and this black we are talking about, goes to the fan along with the rest of the conductors on the 14/3...

I'm stumpmed if you checked all adjacent boxes and the attic for that wire to be spliced or switched at another location, etc....

Only thing I can say is if you can re-confirm what you said is in fact EXACT one more time....And then I will try to take it from there depending on your responseSmile

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
In the switch box there are 4 sets of wires. Two are 14/2's and two are 14/3s. It is the 14/3's that are attached directly to the two switches. Each has a red wire and a black wire attached to them. The black are coming from a pigtail with all of the blacks (14/2's and the 14/3's tied together). The red wires are the only ones that are energized on either switch.
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

Yes, just as I stated in my last post...that black at the fan should have full 120v all the time...makes no sense if you checked for mystery switches, adjacent boxes, junction in the attic, everything we checked for pretty much.....I don't want to say you might have a damaged wire just yet cause that is VERY rare in the walls.

 

Let me ask you this:

1-What is on the wall behind this switchbox? light fixture, recepticle, another switchbox perhaps?

2-Does the fan 14/3 go down or up out of the switchbox?



Edited by High-Voltage on 1/17/2010 at 9:33 PM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Nothing behind the switch box - and the 14/3 goes up out of the switchbox. Should I take apart the pigtails in the switchbox and find out which one is the powered line?
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

The powered line is apparent here...but you can do that...

Turn power off at circuit breaker first-then safely remove wire nut and separate the blacks...cap each one...turn power back on... and test each one

NOTE: I bolded and underlined WIRE NUT so you know NOT to remove any others for confusion purposes.....

Turn power back on and investigate.

Again, I don't see this as necessary unless you have a loose connection there...

By the way, did you double check for sure at the fan box if there was power on the black?

Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

How old is your house?

Are you the original owner?

Do you know if this line was added or was part of the NEW contruction of this home?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok - I disconnected both switches and tested the wires. The black is powered on both. So, you think there is something interrupting or changing the power from black to red between the switch box and the fan box? Could the switches be faulty?
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

Are these switches single pole(2 screw terminals w/ground) or 3-way (3 screw terminals w/ground)?

Also can you answer my last post please?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Sorry did not see those last questions before. The house was built in 1983 and from the looks of it, this switchbox appears to be original construction - I am not the original owner but purchased in the early 90's. The switches are single pole not 3 way.
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

No problem, or need to apologize....we are trying to communicate on the internet, I understand it is difficult...

So anyway, one other confirmation question if you would---When you were in the attic, you saw(keeping structure of your home in mind) that fan 14/3 going directly from fan box and down the wall in the same general area as the switch would be....correct?

And with NO junction boxes....correct?



Edited by High-Voltage on 1/18/2010 at 12:01 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes - that's correct.
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

Well....lets try this....

Do you have ohm's on your meter? and when you touch the two probes it beeps?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I have ohm's and when I set it to that it buzzes and the needles seems to go backwards when I test the black line that used to be attached to the switch.

Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

ok...here's what you need to to in these EXACT steps:

 

1- ****TURN POWER OFF AT CIRCUIT BREAKER AND CONFIRM IT IS OFF WITH YOUR METER IN THE SWITCH BOX***

2-Disconnect black and red at fan and twist them together

3-Put meter on ohm's and touch two meter probes together to make sure it buzzes

4-Put switch box wiring back together how it originally was, leaving out the black that goes to the fan on the 14/3

5-Disconnect Red from fan switch

6-Place one meter probe on red and one meter probe on black(both obviously the ones that are from 14/3 for the fan)

7-Tell me if it buzzes

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Need clarification -

 

First I misunderstood the ohms instruction previously - I thought I was supposed to test the wires wiht ohms...not just touch both probes to each other. When I did that just now, it doesn't make a noise, but the meter needle does register significantly going from left to right.

 

Second, on step 4 - the 14/3 that connects to the fan has the black wire pigtailed into a nut in the switchbox; one of the blacks coming out of the pigtail goes to the switch - do you want me to just not connect the black from the pigtail to the switch?

 

Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

I am not sure what could have happened to your meter when you did that, but as long as when you touch probes together you see a significant movement in your meter reading you can tell me that instead of if it buzzes.

 

As far as step 4 goes, simply disconnect the black from the wirenut that came from the 14/3 and use that only

 

Basically i need you to have the red and black from the fan's 14/3 in the switch box completely isolated from every thing else in the switchbox when you do step 6

 

Don't hesitate to ask if you are still confused...I am here with you. NO PROBLEM



Edited by High-Voltage on 1/18/2010 at 12:40 AM EST
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok - I did that, and there was no change on the ohms meter. Is that bad?
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.

Ok....Based on the information you provided to me and what we have troubleshooted here in this post, I have come up with an answer for you on your fan problem:

Put everything back together the way you had it originally(fan and switchbox)

 

1) You have either have a faulty black wire leading to the fan(unless it goes somewhere else and you said you couldn't find it-which it probably dosen't go anywhere else anyway)

2) You will need to eliminate that 14/3 fan wire( fish a new 14/3 wire down the wall into the switchbox and also over to the fan)-basically run a new 14/3

3)If you are not capable of doing this task it may be best to hire an electrician to do it as they do this kind of work daily and quickly

4)With my experience, I highly recommend you address this problem with an electrician and DO NOT attempt to ignore it and find another way to operate this fan (nothing personal-I have just seen too much of that and it could lead to a major safety hazard for you and your family)

5)After you correct this problem you will need to puchase a fan/light combo switch in replacement of your fan switch you currently have

**With hiring the electrician to do this he may be able to use a tracer to trace that wire and find it if it is in fact going somewhere else**

Best of luck to you, and it has been a pleasure working with you on this and please do not hesitate to request me in the future as I will be glad to help you out in your future electrical questions**

GOOD LUCK TO YOU and please follow my recommendations.....Take CareSmile

 

High-Voltage, .
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 149
Experience: .
High-Voltage and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Ok - thanks!
Expert:  High-Voltage replied 4 years ago.
You bet! And please feel free to leave positive feedback for me...It lets me know how I am doing....And Thank You too!Smile

Edited by High-Voltage on 1/18/2010 at 2:23 PM EST

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