Author Topic: WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery  (Read 2846 times)

The Money Monk

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WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery
« on: July 01, 2016, 11:12:22 AM »
I installed a fan in the living room light fixture (i have installed the same fan in another room with no issues). This one was just as easy. The weird part is, The fan and light work fine if I use the pull strings, but the wall switch does nothing now! The fan and light  both work regardless of whether the switch is on or off. wtf?

The switch definitely turned it on and off when it was just a light. How did I manage this?

The fixture has two ungrounded wires, one (red) which was capped and unused, and I left it that way. and the black which was being used, and is now connected to the fan (which works but is no longer controlled by the wall switch). Any idea what is going on and how to fix it?

CmFtns

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Re: WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery
« Reply #1 on: July 01, 2016, 11:20:51 AM »
I installed a fan in the living room light fixture (i have installed the same fan in another room with no issues). This one was just as easy. The weird part is, The fan and light work fine if I use the pull strings, but the wall switch does nothing now! The fan and light  both work regardless of whether the switch is on or off. wtf?

The switch definitely turned it on and off when it was just a light. How did I manage this?

The fixture has two ungrounded wires, one (red) which was capped and unused, and I left it that way. and the black which was being used, and is now connected to the fan (which works but is no longer controlled by the wall switch). Any idea what is going on and how to fix it?

Okay, so not sure exactly how you wired it from your description but I can assume 1 fact from what you said and that is that the fan is wired to a permanently "hot" wire.

Either you wired it to a permanantly hot wire that is not attached to the switch
or
The switch is somehow stuck in the on position or got bypassed

I don't understand how the fan/light fixture has 2 wires... Usually it has 4 wires...
2 that go to the light and fan which should be hooked to the switch either seperately if you have 2 switches or together for 1 switch,
1 white neutral, and
1 green ground
« Last Edit: July 01, 2016, 11:23:42 AM by CmFtns »

CmFtns

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Re: WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery
« Reply #2 on: July 01, 2016, 11:27:01 AM »
This is most simple scenario where the "power supply" wire pictured here goes to a switch. If the "power supply" wire always has power then it will work like how you described it was currently working.

« Last Edit: July 01, 2016, 11:29:16 AM by CmFtns »

The Money Monk

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Re: WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery
« Reply #3 on: July 01, 2016, 11:43:10 AM »
There were 4 wires in the fixture: Black, White, Red, and the ground.

I am 90% certain the black one is what was connected to the previous light fixture that was controlled by the switch, and the red was capped an unused (there is a chance I mixed that up though)

Anyway the fan instructions said for a single switch to connect the ungrounded black wire to the black and blue wires from the fan, and connect white to white, and connect all the grounds (from fan, ceiling, and ceiling bracket)

Instructions said nothing about a red wire. I googled it and most people were saying it is an additional ungrounded wire for multiple switch setups and its ok to leave it capped and unused, so that's what I did.


The Money Monk

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Re: WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery
« Reply #4 on: July 01, 2016, 11:45:19 AM »
This is most simple scenario where the "power supply" wire pictured here goes to a switch. If the "power supply" wire always has power then it will work like how you described it was currently working.



This is exactly how I did it. The only difference is there is also a red wire coming out of the ceiling fixture that I left capped and unused. But now the switch does nothing.

CmFtns

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Re: WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2016, 12:08:09 PM »
There were 4 wires in the fixture: Black, White, Red, and the ground.

I am 90% certain the black one is what was connected to the previous light fixture that was controlled by the switch, and the red was capped an unused (there is a chance I mixed that up though)

Anyway the fan instructions said for a single switch to connect the ungrounded black wire to the black and blue wires from the fan, and connect white to white, and connect all the grounds (from fan, ceiling, and ceiling bracket)

Instructions said nothing about a red wire. I googled it and most people were saying it is an additional ungrounded wire for multiple switch setups and its ok to leave it capped and unused, so that's what I did.

When you say "fixture" I was thinking of the fan as the fixture which I think is where I was confused... I believe usually the actual device (fan, light) is referred to as the fixture.

So you have 4 wires coming out of the ceiling correct?

Anyway whatever wire you connected to the fan is somehow always "hot / on". So either the switch is somehow stuck on or something got mixed up and you connected the fan to an always on hot wire that is not connected to the switch. You probably need to get up there with a tester and test the black and red wire and see if the red one is actually the one controlled by the switch. Remember to be careful with electricity.

There's really no way to know where the wires go unless you test it... but it sounds like:
-black wire coming out of the ceiling: always has power running through it or connected to malfunctioning switch that is staying on
-red unused wire coming out of ceiling that is capped off: a mystery until you test it.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2016, 12:22:11 PM by CmFtns »

The Money Monk

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Re: WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery
« Reply #6 on: July 01, 2016, 12:48:30 PM »
There were 4 wires in the fixture: Black, White, Red, and the ground.

I am 90% certain the black one is what was connected to the previous light fixture that was controlled by the switch, and the red was capped an unused (there is a chance I mixed that up though)

Anyway the fan instructions said for a single switch to connect the ungrounded black wire to the black and blue wires from the fan, and connect white to white, and connect all the grounds (from fan, ceiling, and ceiling bracket)

Instructions said nothing about a red wire. I googled it and most people were saying it is an additional ungrounded wire for multiple switch setups and its ok to leave it capped and unused, so that's what I did.

When you say "fixture" I was thinking of the fan as the fixture which I think is where I was confused... I believe usually the actual device (fan, light) is referred to as the fixture.

So you have 4 wires coming out of the ceiling correct?

Anyway whatever wire you connected to the fan is somehow always "hot / on". So either the switch is somehow stuck on or something got mixed up and you connected the fan to an always on hot wire that is not connected to the switch. You probably need to get up there with a tester and test the black and red wire and see if the red one is actually the one controlled by the switch. Remember to be careful with electricity.

There's really no way to know where the wires go unless you test it... but it sounds like:
-black wire coming out of the ceiling: always has power running through it or connected to malfunctioning switch that is staying on
-red unused wire coming out of ceiling that is capped off: a mystery until you test it.

Yeah, I mistakenly said fixture when I meant the hole in the ceiling.

I think it's unlikely that the wall switch would have broken and be stuck on at the exact moment I installed the new fan, so I am assuming the other possibility is correct.

I must have been mistaken and the red wire was connected to the previous light fixture and the black "always hot" wire was un-used.

CmFtns

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Re: WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery
« Reply #7 on: July 01, 2016, 12:51:21 PM »
There were 4 wires in the fixture: Black, White, Red, and the ground.

I am 90% certain the black one is what was connected to the previous light fixture that was controlled by the switch, and the red was capped an unused (there is a chance I mixed that up though)

Anyway the fan instructions said for a single switch to connect the ungrounded black wire to the black and blue wires from the fan, and connect white to white, and connect all the grounds (from fan, ceiling, and ceiling bracket)

Instructions said nothing about a red wire. I googled it and most people were saying it is an additional ungrounded wire for multiple switch setups and its ok to leave it capped and unused, so that's what I did.

When you say "fixture" I was thinking of the fan as the fixture which I think is where I was confused... I believe usually the actual device (fan, light) is referred to as the fixture.

So you have 4 wires coming out of the ceiling correct?

Anyway whatever wire you connected to the fan is somehow always "hot / on". So either the switch is somehow stuck on or something got mixed up and you connected the fan to an always on hot wire that is not connected to the switch. You probably need to get up there with a tester and test the black and red wire and see if the red one is actually the one controlled by the switch. Remember to be careful with electricity.

There's really no way to know where the wires go unless you test it... but it sounds like:
-black wire coming out of the ceiling: always has power running through it or connected to malfunctioning switch that is staying on
-red unused wire coming out of ceiling that is capped off: a mystery until you test it.

Yeah, I mistakenly said fixture when I meant the hole in the ceiling.

I think it's unlikely that the wall switch would have broken and be stuck on at the exact moment I installed the new fan, so I am assuming the other possibility is correct.

I must have been mistaken and the red wire was connected to the previous light fixture and the black "always hot" wire was un-used.

I agree this is the most likely scenario... They probably wired it so that there was a switch controlled wire and an always-on wire so that fan could be installed whichever way was desired by homeowner, with switch control or always-on to control with pull strings.

Spork

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Re: WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery
« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2016, 05:22:40 PM »
Often with fans, you will run 2 hots: a red and a black.  One controls the light.  One controls the fan. 

Sometimes the fan is hard wired (and controlled only with the chain).  Sometimes both the fan and light are switched.

I suspect you switched the hot wires from the "switched" hot to the "always" hot.  You can test it with a multimeter... test both of them.  And test them with the switch both on and with it off.  It will suddenly make sense.

cockersx3

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Re: WTF? how did I do this? - Wall switch ceiling fan mystery
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2016, 09:17:45 AM »
My guess is that the red is the switched hot, and the black is always on.  You probably just accidently reversed this when you installed the fan.  Another way to check this is to look at the wiring on the switch - I'm guessing that's going to be a standard 2-way switch (ie two hots and a ground, total of three wires attached) and that the hot wires on the switch are black and red.  You could also check by pulling down the fan and putting a meter on the red & white wires, both with switch off and on.  You should show no AC voltage when off, and 120 VAC when on.

Once way to address this would be to correct wiring at switch - ie locate the black feed to the fan at the switch, and put that wire on the downstream (switched) side of the switch, and splice the red back into the hot.  However, my preference would be to do it the "right" way and just pull down the fan and reverse the wiring there.  This reduces the risk of zapping the next guy working on that fan....!