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Wiring a ceiling fan: Odd question-

I have a home with an open floor plan. One problem- there is a ceiling fan near the lanai in my "great room", but none near the television area. I went to rectify that situation today. I cut a hole in the ceiling, inserted one of those threaded bars that can accomodate a ceiling-fan capable box, and went into the attic and spliced wires.

My thought: I would cut into the 14-2 NM wire that led from the switch on the wall to the fan above the reading area, and run some 12-2 wire that I had from another project to the new hole and new box.

Wiring, and this is important: I cut the wire to the existing ceiling fan, installed a new junction box, and added a wire that ran across the attic to the new box. Black wire to black wire, white wire to white wire, and bare wire to ground. The result: The new fan doesn't spin at all.

Result? Not good. The original fan runs fine. No difference from before, but the new fan doesn't turn at all. The lights on the new fan glow a very dim orange, which means that it is getting voltage, all my connections are good. Before I mounted the fan, I tested it with my multitester and found about 30 volts. What's more, if you use the chains on the original fan to turn off the lights...the dim lights on the new fan turn off as well! WTH?

Why can you not simply divide a circuit and have both loads work? We are talking two or three amps each for the fans/lights combination, and this is a 15 amp circuit with no other loads on at the time, so load isn't the question at all.

What am I missing?

How does one wire another fan such as this? I went to a lighting shop today, and the owner spent about 20 minutes telling me in broken English how to do this. It has something to do with wiring the new fan into the switch. I need to find which side of the circuit the switch breaks- the white neutral or the black hot. OK, I have a multitester and lots of experience using it, so I'm sure I can figure that one out, but what do I do with the knowledge once I get it?

I've gone online and looked for this solution, but all of the posts that I've found dealt with installing a ceiling fan, not adding another in series.

Any ideas?

Thanx in advance!

N!

Old 12-06-2010, 05:09 PM
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Old 12-06-2010, 05:20 PM
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Question...
On the original fan, could you control the fan and the light independently from separate switches before anything was changed?
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Old 12-06-2010, 05:28 PM
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If you measured 30 volts anywhere, something is not right. Sounds like you've got a floating neutral or a bad/poor connection somewhere.

Disconnect the wiring at the new fan, keeping the now bare power wire conductors apart (use spare wire nuts.) Confirm all is well with the existing fan/switch. Check the voltage at the new fan and confirm you've got 120V between white/black. Until you confirm this power, the new fan isn't going to work.

The new fan is for 110/120 - right?
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Old 12-06-2010, 05:54 PM
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Here are some more cave-man drawings...
NEVER switch a neutral.



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Old 12-06-2010, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Normy View Post
I have a home with an open floor plan. One problem- there is a ceiling fan near the lanai in my "great room", but none near the television area. I went to rectify that situation today. I cut a hole in the ceiling, inserted one of those threaded bars that can accomodate a ceiling-fan capable box, and went into the attic and spliced wires.

My thought: I would cut into the 14-2 NM wire that led from the switch on the wall to the fan above the reading area, and run some 12-2 wire that I had from another project to the new hole and new box.

Wiring, and this is important: I cut the wire to the existing ceiling fan, installed a new junction box, and added a wire that ran across the attic to the new box. Black wire to black wire, white wire to white wire, and bare wire to ground. The result: The new fan doesn't spin at all.

Result? Not good. The original fan runs fine. No difference from before, but the new fan doesn't turn at all. The lights on the new fan glow a very dim orange, which means that it is getting voltage, all my connections are good. Before I mounted the fan, I tested it with my multitester and found about 30 volts. What's more, if you use the chains on the original fan to turn off the lights...the dim lights on the new fan turn off as well! WTH?

Why can you not simply divide a circuit and have both loads work? We are talking two or three amps each for the fans/lights combination, and this is a 15 amp circuit with no other loads on at the time, so load isn't the question at all.

What am I missing?

How does one wire another fan such as this? I went to a lighting shop today, and the owner spent about 20 minutes telling me in broken English how to do this. It has something to do with wiring the new fan into the switch. I need to find which side of the circuit the switch breaks- the white neutral or the black hot. OK, I have a multitester and lots of experience using it, so I'm sure I can figure that one out, but what do I do with the knowledge once I get it?

I've gone online and looked for this solution, but all of the posts that I've found dealt with installing a ceiling fan, not adding another in series.

Any ideas?

Thanx in advance!

N!
First, the black wire is always switched, so if your's isn't someone has really screwed up your wiring. Does your fan circuit have a speed control on the wall? If so, is it rated to power two fans? Are you sure the old connections are done properly?
If I understand what you explained about your circuit, it should work. I suspect something was done improperly in the original circuit. A bad connection there could cause erratic behavior. I have two 40 watt bulbs in fixtures at the end of my driveway. The system would power one bulb, but when I screwed the other in they both went out. The problem was a corroded copper-to-aluminum connection in a junction box.

If you only measured 30 volts at the new box, why did you go ahead and install the fan without finding out why it wasn't 110 volts?

"Wiring, and this is important: I cut the wire to the existing ceiling fan, installed a new junction box, and added a wire that ran across the attic to the new box. Black wire to black wire, white wire to white wire, and bare wire to ground. The result: The new fan doesn't spin at all."

Why did you not connect the new wire to the old on in the box that the old fan is mounted on? This is a more common way of doing it.
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red88Carrera View Post
Question...
On the original fan, could you control the fan and the light independently from separate switches before anything was changed?
The reason I asked about the switch(s) is that I've seen some pretty weird(illegal) installations. I've seen it where someone wanted to run the fan and the light off of separate switches. Instead of replacing the 14/2 with 14/3, they used the black wire to power the fan, the white wire to power the fan, and the ground wire for the neutral. You never know what you'll find out there.
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:34 PM
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Sounds like Normy wired up the fan in parallel with the switch that controls the light. You'll let the magic smoke out if you run it too long like that.
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rick-l View Post
Sounds like Normy wired up the fan in parallel with the switch that controls the light. You'll let the magic smoke out if you run it too long like that.
Parallel is fine. Run them in series and watch what happens...not good.
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red88Carrera View Post
Parallel is fine. Run them in series and watch what happens...not good.
Like in where when the switch is open the new fan and light act as the light switch?
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Old 12-06-2010, 07:57 PM
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Come on fess up. Is this what you did?

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Old 12-07-2010, 01:03 PM
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you could try the bottom one.
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Old 12-07-2010, 01:41 PM
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Rick, I appreciate your help, but I cannot recognize my situation in your drawings. That isn't a problem with you, it is a problem with me. Thank you for your help, by the way.

Today, I took apart the two wall switches in my hall that control the fans on my ceiling. The first thing I discovered is that the left switch, a total rheostat, was totally dead. Nothing changed when I tested it with a multitester. I deleted it, though I left it in place to simply cover an opening in the wall. I found the wires that had the 120 volts in the wall, and I simply connected them to the wires that i suspected [though not proven...] led to the fans. The two fans are sharing wires that lead off of this feed.

Here's where it gets weird: I bypassed the switch, figuring that I was feeding 120 volts to the bifiurcation in the attic, and guess what? The NEW fan works, but the OLD fan, that previously worked just fine...is now DEAD!

Again: Power comes to the attic, it splits in two, and one fan works. The other [identical product from Lowes] does not. This is a 15 amp circuit, and at best with the halogen lights screaming....these two fans might draw about 7 amps?

And it is the NEW fan that works, not the old one!

Good lord! My dad was an electrical engineer, I knew what a multitester was when I was 4 years old! I know my way around an electrical diagram but I am drawing a total blank on this problem! I'm at my whits end- I called the GC that handles my apartment complexes and he told me that for $250 his guy would come over and fix it, but this is an ego thing for me [one of the few], and I just do not want someone else to twist a few wires together and fix a problem on my OWN house! I just refuse to have this fixed professionally!

help~
Old 12-07-2010, 04:18 PM
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You know... firemen are considered professionals. You definitely don't want them coming out to see what the problem is. Make sure you get it fixed correctly.
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Old 12-07-2010, 05:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Red88Carrera View Post
You know... firemen are considered professionals. You definitely don't want them coming out to see what the problem is. Make sure you get it fixed correctly.
Dude, you have no idea how much I was sniffing around the house today! I'm thinking that I'm officially beat. I can't fix it. I'm going to have to call an electrician and have him fix this for me. For $250. Dammit that is going to screw up my budget for December! That and my ego just took a pounding-

"Oh yeah...all you had to do was connect this wire to this one right here..."



N! [smoke pouring from ears] Oh well, I know when I'm beat.

Last edited by Normy; 12-07-2010 at 05:22 PM..
Old 12-07-2010, 05:14 PM
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Norman: So, what I didn't see at first is that you have TWO switches and at least one is a rheostat? Now you add a 2nd fan?

I'm no expert, but I've wired my cabin I build and did the "finish" wiring on my current house. My experience, the only time I really got to scratching my head was when a room had two light fixtures and two switches. Add in the rheostat and of course you can have reduced voltage....

I think you're on the right track by taking out one switch and just connecting the wires where that switch was. At this point, get a wiring diagram on the web or from a book (I have several) that shows how to wire two fixtures. G'luck....
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Old 12-07-2010, 05:30 PM
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Maybe I can help you Normy.

The wiring for the switch on the wall should have a at least 3 wires inside.

There will be a "hot at all times" or a "line" wire. (this is the one coming from the breaker) on one side of the switch.

on the other side of the switch, there will be a "hot only when switch is in the on position." or "load" this one goes to the fan .

There should also be a ground wire unless your house is older and they used the emt conduit and the electrical box as the ground.

The wires connected to the switch are usually black or blue and sometimes red.

the neutrals or "white" wires can be connected together from the original fan box to your new fan.

The neutral is never switched as it is the "return path"

Only switch the hot side.
Old 12-07-2010, 06:12 PM
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Throw us a bone here. The problem seems to be changing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Normy View Post
My thought: I would cut into the 14-2 NM wire that led from the switch on the wall to the fan above the reading area
I like to know how they hook those two switches to the two wires in that cable?

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Old 12-07-2010, 10:30 PM
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