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Steven Parent
Steven Parent,
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 69
Experience:  Journeymen Electrician at Harvey's Electric Industrial Maintenance & Contracting Ltd.
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This is Dave JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details

Customer Question

This is Dave
JA: Thanks. Can you give me any more details about your issue?
Customer: I have two black wires and two white wires coming out of the ceiling junction box and the two black wires are hooked together and the two white wires are hooked to the light fixture. I want to put in a ceiling fan. Can I hook the ceiling fan to the white wires.(black and blue to white and white to what? I' mixed up.
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Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Hello my name is***** will be happy to assist you with your electrical questions today. Were to two white wires each going to a wire on the old fixture? Do you know which set of wires goes to the switch and which set is powered?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
This house as built in 1964. I looked in the breaker box to see how the wiring was hooked up The black wires are to the circuit breaker and the white and bare ground are hooked to the ground bars. In the ceiling junction box their is not ground wire showing. the light is hooked to a switch that has tow black wires to it. Like I said the black wires in the ceiling are hooked together and the white wires are going to the old light. If it matters all of the outlets only have two prongs in them, no threes. I don't know which wires go the switch. My tester batteries are dead.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Are there other lights controlled by this same switch?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
No
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
But you have taken the switch apart to see that there are 2 black wires going to it? Are there any other wires in that box?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
They are only two black wire at the switch.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
And they both come out of the same cable? Is it possible one wire has tape or a piece of black insulation on it or something?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I'm sorry. there is just one cable and the BLACK and WHITE wire are hooked to the switch. I'm sorry.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Ok, perfect. That sounds better. :)
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
So it is common practice back in those times to run power to the ceiling box and then a 2wire down to the switch. However it is code that you send power down to the switch on the white and then bring it back on the black. Thus leaving you a black and a white at your fixture, and not 2 whites like you have.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
So all you need to do it confirm which of those cables in the ceiling box come in as power and which 2wire cable runs down to the switch. Since your tester is dead, is it easy enough for you to connect the fixture back up and use the break to switch it on, just for testing?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
What do you mean by using the "break" If you mean taking the switch apart, it is painted into the fixture and I will have to dig it out, but if that is the only way to do it I will but it will take some time.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
my mistake, "breaker".
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Is your old fixture just a standard 1 bulb unit?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Yes I can use the breaker and it has two bulbs.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
If you undo the black/black connection inside the box and connect the fixture to a black and white and then turn the breaker on, you can see if the light turns on and then you know which cable is which
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I can do that but (just me asking, this won't blow a circuit somewhere?) give me a little bit.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
No it will be fine. Just separate the wires in each cable inside the box, put one set to the side, but isolate the wires from each other. Then just connect the 2 wires from the fixture to the black and white from the other cable. Then turn the breaker on, and see if the light comes on.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Ok give me a minute or two
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Sure
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I did that and the light is on, but the switch is off.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Ok great. so the wires that are connected to the light come from the breaker. the other 2 wires are what go to the switch.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
So now if you turn off the breaker, you can make the necessary connections inside the ceiling box. The black that you have hooked up to the light right now needs to connect with the white from the other cable
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
That will leave you with a white from the panel and a black from the switch inside the ceiling box. That is now your switched circuit to switch your new fixture
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Huh? I know I don't know much but why was it the other way? Was that wrong? It apparently has been that way for 56 years. Is it because of the 2 prong plugs? In the living room they had 3 plug outlets with the top plug connected to the wall switch. Now I can hook up the fan and light according to the instructions that come with the fan?
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Yes, the way is was worked just fine. It's just not the correct way. When you disconnected the old fixture, you were left with 2 whites and not sure which is which. That is why the correct way to wire that is to connect the black from the panel to the white from the switch. The black from the switch is now your switched hot, and the other white is still your neutral. But you have a white and a black in the ceiling box. And that is they way it should be
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
OK thanks. If you see of an explosion in Illinois you know it came from me. Again thanks
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Here is a drawing. This way you have a black and white, hot and neutral in your ceiling box that is controlled from the switch. Now your new fan will have coloured hot wires and a white neutral. Easy to match them up now.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Just disregard the ground wire, as the older wiring doesn't have them
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Very good thanks for your helpDave
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
You are most welcome. Happy to help. Thanks for using Just Answer, and have a nice evening.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Now it says to connect the black wire from the fan to the black wire from the ceiling. and connect the blue wire from the fan to the independent wire from the switch which I don't have. Connect the white wire from the fan to the white wire from the ceiling. Can I hook the black and blue wires from the fan to the black wire from the ceiling.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Is this a fan/light combo?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Yes
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Is there a pull chain to control either the light or fan?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
yes both
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
Ok, so how do you want it to work? Turn on the light with the wall switch and use the pull chain to operate the fan?
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
If that is not too much to hook up, otherwise just so they run. I am getting tired of the mess and I know you have to be also.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
No worries. It all depends on if you want the fan to run, but not always with the light on, its up to you
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
What you can do, is just hook up the black and blue together with the black wire from the switch. If you want independent control then you can use the pull chains. If you want the whole thing off, you can flip the switch off.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
There will be times we want the light on but no fan.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
That will work. Thank you. I was wondering if all of the light fixtures are wired the way this one was and should I eventually change them. I would prefer the house not to burn down.
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
It is not a issue that will cause any harm. It's just if you disconnect the fixture you are stuck looking at 2 white wires wondering whats what
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
A white wire will always be identified as a neutral wire. Except in cases where you run power to a switch. In such you must take power to the switch on the white, and the black as the switch leg. White wire shouldn't be used as a switch leg.
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I wonder if the wall outlets are the same way. I can't imagine why anyone would wire a house like this. We just moved into this house. There is no ground at the outlets or wall switches but there is a ground wire in the breaker box. The old house we moved out of had ground wires throughout and it was built in 1948 Thanks for your time
Expert:  Steven Parent replied 11 months ago.
You're welcome

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