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Mike, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1425
Experience:  Licensed Master Electrician - OnQ Certified Data Voice Audio Video Installer
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I am trying to replace a ceiling fan that had a light kit

Customer Question

I am trying to replace a ceiling fan that had a light kit with just a new ceiling light. The fan was connected to wall switch and the light kit was on its own switch. When I took down the fan I had two black, two white and two bare wires. I have tried trial and error but I can't get the light switch that controlled the fan to turn on the light. In a couple of instances when I turned the breaker back on the light lit even though light switch was in "off" position. When that happened I would flip the light switch to "on" and the circuit breaker would trip. What to do?
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 7 months ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) What are the wire colors that terminate to each wall switch?

2) Do you have a 2 wire lead AC voltage tester (a contact type) or an AC voltmeter available?

3) What is the wiring scheme that was used? NM Romex cable or conduit or other?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Switch on the left has white wire going into its lower "terminal" with another white wire going from top terminal to a bundle of three black wires, two of which are connected to the upper and lower terminals on switch on the right. This right switch is the switch that would turn on the light attached to ceiling fanI have voltage detector shaped like a large pen that beeps and flickers when it makes contact with live currentNo conduit. Just romex
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Are you still there?
Expert:  Kevin replied 7 months ago.

Thanks for the replies.

1) Unfortunately a non-contact voltage tester is the wrong type of tester to use. A 2 wire lead AC voltage tester is a must have whenever performing any electrical work. non-contact tester senses voltage by induction and can easily provide a false indication from other wires within a box.

2) Not sure why the wall switch has 2 white wires terminated to it as there should only be 1 white and 1 black wire. What about the wire colors on the right switch?

3) At the ceiling box, locate 1 separate Romex cable that will contain a black, a white and a bare copper ground. Splice the light fixture wires color to color to only 1 Romex cable. Leave the 2nd Romex cable in the ceiling box "as-is" and not spliced to anything. Since you don't have the proper tester, we will use the light fixture as a tester. Once the light works, flip each wall switch ON/OFF and confirm that the breaker does not trip. If the light remains in the ON position, identify the house black wire with some black electrical tape.

Reply back and let me know what happens and we can take it from there..........Thanks..........Kevin:

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
The right switch is two black wires one of which is connected to a bundle of three wires (one white and two black). I will send a picture.I have done the romex excercise of connecting and using light as tester but the light always came on even though switch was off. Turning .the switch on would cause circuit to break
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
The right switch also operates a wall outlet on same wall
Expert:  Kevin replied 7 months ago.

Thanks for the replies and the pic.

1) Did you try the 2nd Romex cable at the ceiling box? Leave the 1st cable that you just tested, not spliced to anything.

2) Inside the wall switch box, do you know which are the 2 Romex cables that originate from the ceiling box? If so, trace each white in the 2 Romex switch box cables and see if they both splice to a group of white neutrals?

3) Are you saying that the original fan light kit was controlled by the right switch and the right switch also controls a wall receptacle?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
the right switch controlled the light on fan and a wall outletI don't know which romex cables originate from box
Expert:  Kevin replied 7 months ago.

1) When you de-installed the fan and light kit, did the fan have a black wire and the light kit had a blue wire? If so, were these spliced individually to the ceiling box blacks?

2) Were the 2 ceiling whites spliced together prior to de-installing the fan and light kit?

3) Thanks..........hmmmmm.... interesting, Not sure why a wall switch controlled both the ceiling and a receptacle. It is typically one or the other.

Expert:  Kevin replied 7 months ago.

1) If the circuit originates at the ceiling box, then one of the Romex cables should be the circuit hot & neutral and the new light should stay ON irregardless of turning the switches ON or OFF. And the breaker should not trip.

2) If either of the ceiling Romex cables does not contain the "always live" circuit, then the power is originating from the wall switch box.

3) Perhaps you can borrow a contact tester or a voltmeter from a neighbor or friend? If not, you can purchase a 2 wire lead AC voltage tester (a contact type) at any Home Depot, Lowe's or Ace Hardware stores. Having the tester will be able to confirm the functionality of the ceiling box wires.

See link shown below:

Expert:  Kevin replied 7 months ago.

1) If the left switch originally controlled the fan and the right switch originally controlled the fan light kit, then the 2 ceiling black wires should be for the switched loops that originate from the 2 switches. Yet you have 1 switch that has 2 white wires terminated to it. A white wire is allowed to be used as a hot conductor, but not as a switched loop conductor leaving the switch. Something is not correct here. Thus the reason, I need to understand how the original fan and light kit were spliced?

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