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Jason
Jason, Service Technician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3792
Experience:  Over 15 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
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Just bought a harbor breeze remote control ceiling fan. I took

Resolved Question:

Just bought a harbor breeze remote control ceiling fan. I took out the old fan and have 3 black wires and 1 white wire coming out of the ceiling. The remote portion only has 1 black and 1 white. I have tried all three black wires seperatly and all the switches on the wall as well. What next?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Jason replied 1 year ago.

Jason :

Hello. Welcome to Just Answer.

Jason :

Do you remember which ceiling wires were connected to the old fan, and in what configuration?

Customer:

Yes. 2 black from ceiling to one black on fan. White to white, and another black from ceiling to blue on fan. I did try the 2 black that were on the old fan to the 1 black on the remote box. nothing happened. The remote box only has 2 wires. one black and one white

Jason :

OK. Are you able to post photos here? Are you able to regroup the ceiling wires the way they were before?

Customer:

I think so. I will take pick of old fan, and what i have done up to contacting you. gimme minute

Jason :

No problem, standing by.

Customer:

currently, the white is to white and 1 of the 2 black that were connected together is connected to the black. i did try the 2 that were connected the the one black, but nothing happened.

Jason :

OK, a couple of questions for you.

Jason :

Do you have a volt meter?

Customer:

no

Jason :

Does the remote receiver, which has the set of black and white wires for connection to the ceiling wires have another set of wires... black, blue, and white? I see a blue in one photo.

Customer:

yes. it has black and white to connect to ceiling and 3 to go to fan. black, white , blue

Jason :

The set of 3 going into the fan are already connected, correct?

Customer:

yes, correct. i wanted to make sure it ran before i finished installing the blades and light fixture.

Jason :

OK, at this point, it would be best to put the ceiling wires back in the configuration you found them when removing the old fan. I would be happy to stand by while you do that.

Customer:

ok. what do i do with the one that was connected to the blue wire of the OLD fan? just cap it off?

Customer:

i can run the the autoparts store and get a volt meter, but can you wait the time it takes to get one? Is there a way to pause the "call" and come back to it?

Jason :

The wire that was connected to the blue on the old fan should be coming from a wall switch. That means it would only be hot when the wall switch is in the ON position. It's for the light kit.

Jason :

I don't think we need a volt meter, unless we have a lot of trouble getting the ceiling wires put back in the proper configuration.

Customer:

ok. i have them back to the original configuration. nothing happens. i turned the switch on, nothing. do you know about the switches in the remote and control box? the are all in the up position, 4 up on the control box and 4 up on the remote handheld. do they need to be set another way?

Jason :

I was going to be addressing that shortly, so it's good you're familiar with it. They just need to be set to match each other. So any configuration is fine, as long as both sets match each other. You may want to try moving them, to see if it changes anything. If not, we may need a volt meter after all.

Customer:

i will try moving them. gimme a sec

Jason :

If you can take down the ceiling bracket and post another photo showing all wires, that may help me in providing guidance.

Jason :

We can wait until it gets to a point where that is absolutely necessary, if you prefer.

Customer:

i moved them, still nothing. id rather not remove the bracket, that fan is HEAVY. but i can discconect all the wires and take a pic. gimme a sec

Jason :

Before you do that...

Jason :

Are there any splices in the ceiling box that you didn't have to take apart?

Customer:

ok, here are all the wires from the ceiling dissconnected

no connections to fan from ceiling
Full Size Image

Jason :

One black wire is stranded, and two are solid? That's odd.

Jason :

Do you have a breaker turned off right now? Is there only one wall switch, and is it off?

Customer:

its an old house. but the previous fan lit and turned...but not very well. fyi. the switch the turn the light on was an on off, the switch that made the fan turn is on a variable dail...i did try to put the 2 black that went to the light together for the new fan..but no luck

Customer:

the braker is on, the switch is off. i dont know which breaker does what

Jason :

OK. Are there any other splices in the ceiling box, above the bracket?

Customer:

i cant tell, it looks like a worms nest

Jason :

Is there one wire that you are certain is constantly hot, as long as the breaker is on?

Jason :

It should be a black wire.

Customer:

certain no. I think i need to go buy a voltmeter, can you wait about 20 minutes?

Jason :

Sure, no problem.

Jason :

I'll keep an eye out for you. I'll keep this open, so you can just post again when you get back. That way, the system will alert me that you've returned.

Customer:

ok, what do i need to set it to and do?

Full Size Image

Jason :

Hello. I'm here.

Jason :

Let me check out your meter. One moment..

Jason :

You need to use the two lower ports.

Jason :

Color of probes doesn't matter.

Customer:

ok, what about the dail?

Jason :

Turn the dial 2 clicks to the right, to the V with the wavy line and the number 200.

Customer:

done..now what? :)

Jason :

With the wall switch ON, and the rotary dial turned all the way up, carefully touch one probe to the white wire, and one to a black wire. Again, color of probes doesn't matter. Don't let any two wires touch each other, and don't touch any exposed copper with your hand.

Customer:

ok, gimme a sec

Customer:

nothing. i dont understand it and i dont think you can help any further, i turned all the switches on, test all the wires and the meter didnt move

Customer:

the fan and light ran before i uninstalled it

Jason :

I wonder if you may have a tripped breaker. Have you checked for that?

Customer:

yes, they were all on

Jason :

Hmm. Are the flip switch and the rotary dial (for fan speed) both in the same wall box?

Customer:

no, opposite..like caddy corner

Jason :

I suspect there's power somewhere in the ceiling box. Would it be terribly difficult to take the fan and bracket down?

Customer:

not really. i will do it..its really ugly

Jason :

OK. Don't take any other splices you may find in the ceiling box apart. But I wouldn't mind seeing a photo from directly below that box, with all wires shown, if possible.

Customer:

ok, dont laugh..it looks like a fire hazard....

Full Size Image

Jason :

No problem. Checking it out now...

Jason :

I don't see the white wire anymore. Did it come down with the fan?

Customer:

its there..ill take another shot from diff angle

Jason :

OK

Customer:

Full Size Image

Jason :

OK, so when you read from the white to each black with the meter, you got no response on the meter display, correct?

Customer:

correct

Jason :

Please take the meter to a working outlet, and put one probe into one vertical slot, and the other probe into the other vertical slot. Post the reading here.

Customer:

126.6

Jason :

Good. We know the meter is working. Try reading from each black wire to each of the other two black wires.

Customer:

with the switch on?

Jason :

Yes

Customer:

on, now i have reading on all the wires. from white to each black. one twisted is about 35, the solid next to is 124, the solid further away about 45. I think there is a short in the white wire (the one with all the black tape around it)

Jason :

That's what I suspect too.

Customer:

so i need a real electrician to come out and fix it correctly, right?

Jason :

Not necessarily. You and I can probably work through it.

Customer:

ok, lead the way master!! LOL

Jason :

Well, to repair the problem on the white splice, it's best to turn off any power going into that box.

Customer:

ok, what is the best way to do that? do i need to turn off all the breakers? then turn them on one by one?

Jason :

You don't know which breaker controls the power into that box, so it wouldn't be a bad idea to put your meter on the two wires that give you a 120 volt reading, then have an assistant turn breakers off one at a time until the reading goes away. Is there someone else there with you who could help with that? You may lose your Internet connection, but I'll stay here and wait for you.

Customer:

ok. i will have wife turn them off. so i should hold the leads on the black wires or white and black?

Jason :

Whatever the combination was that gave you a 120 volt reading.

Customer:

ok..gimme a few

Jason :

No problem

Customer:

ok, no power to it now

Jason :

While the power is off, I would go ahead and inspect each splice, one at a time. I would only take one splice apart at a time, so there isn't any confusion about which group each wire belongs to.

Customer:

ok, gimme a few

Jason :

Standing by

Customer:

ok, removed tape, reput them together, used a cap thingy to screw them together then electrical taped them

Jason :

You did that with all splices?

Customer:

yes, there were only 2 of them up there

Jason :

Do you remember which two black wires were together, and connected to the old fan's black wire?

Customer:

no. but i dont think there is enough juice to run it off the variable switch anyhow. i would just like to use an on off switch. i thought i could use the black and white that gave off 120. then tape and cap the other 2 black wires

Jason :

You may be able to do that, but it could cause other things in the house not to work. With the way you described it being connected previously, there was one black wire that seemed like an "extra" to me. Let's do this...

Jason :

Find the black wire that has a voltage reading that goes up and down as the rotary speed switch is turned each direction, when measured from black to white on the meter.

Jason :

Once that wire is found, place a wire nut on the end of it, by itself.

Customer:

ok, gimme a few

Jason :

No problem, just post when ready.

Customer:

ok, found the variable switch, it never got higher than 95. the other one reads about 124 and the third black wire has about 18

Jason :

OK. Let's turn the standard wall switch off and on, and find the wire that causes the meter to react to that.

Jason :

Do you want the wall switch to act as a master control?

Customer:

found it, yes i do

Jason :

OK, then it will connect to the black on the receiver module. The black that is part of the black/white (only) set.

Jason :

I don't think you'll mix them up, since the other set of black, white, and blue are already connected.

Customer:

ok, gimme a little while to get it all back up there and hooked up

Jason :

The remaining black ceiling wire needs to be capped off in a wire nut by itself.

Customer:

it works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you

Jason :

Glad to hear it. Is there anything else in the house NOT working?

Customer:

no, thank god!!!

Jason :

I'm a bit concerned about abandoning the second black wire we capped off.

Customer:

Year deffinatly earned your money!!!

Jason :

It must not be needed.

Customer:

i will make sure to leave the switch off

Jason :

I appreciate that. We try hard here to achieve excellence.

Customer:

thank you again!!!! Hope you have a great day!!

Jason, Service Technician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 3792
Experience: Over 15 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
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