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Electrical Wiring in the Home/Did I wire my ceiling fan backwards?


Hi Will,
I have a old home (50+yrs) and installed a new ceiling fan today.  The 2 wires coming out of the ceiling were not clearly marked black/white, they have an old black/rusty fabric on them.  One was significatnly shorter than the other and I tried to remember how the old fan was hooked up to follow that with the new fan. One of the wires from the ceiling was significantly shorter than the other, and I thought that one had the white wire going to it from the old fan.  
I put the new fan white wire to what I thought was the ceiling white wire and then the 2 black wires from the new fan to what I thought the black wire from the ceiling was.  
Problem is, everythign is all put together now and....nothing turns on.  The lights/fan do not work, leaving me to wonder, do I have the wires "backwards"?  Should I take everythign apart and now switch the wires from the fan to the ceiling around to see if that works?  
Any help you might be able to offer would be greatly appreciated, thanks!

From:  Clearly not an electrician :)


From what I am reading you have three wires from your new fan?   And how many from your old fan?

It does have a light kit.   Is the fan and or light switch controlled from wall switches or pull cords on the fan or both,  or a combination?

First I am not sure what type of wiring you have in the house,   shorter or longer wire should make no difference on the fan or home wiring if it is not deteriorated or cracking badly,

  it is a woven type covering on the wire,  which is normal for that time period,     next a fan being a motor,  doesn't care if the black [hot] is swapped with the white [neutral]   the fan only cares if it gets the rated voltage on the two motor wires,    it won't turn backwards  it just makes no difference if two AC motor leads are provided which gets the black or white,   

 so that in and of itself should not be a problem,   [however keeping with the color scheme is preferred, in reality,  a motor needs whatever voltage, phase, and cycles it was designed for,   

There should be a wiring diagram from the fan in the box,  somewhere,    the best I can tell is you have  

What bothers me is three wires from the fan,   I am reading 2 blacks and 1 white?

MOST OF THE time for ceiling fan wiring,  the colors help indicate which is switch leg,    a switch leg is nothing more than the hot wire ran to the switch,  the switch cuts it in half when off, and connects it back when on,   that simple,        the two power wires are brought to the ceiling box   the white goes straight to it,    the black routes through a wall switch and to the fan.   Then you can turn the fan off and on by the wall switch.

But with a light kit,  there should be a blue wire,  from the fan,   it would be a switch leg, the box would have a black, white, red  and possibly green wire,    but you only have two,  if I understand correctly.

In that case if you have two power wires,   ONLY,  and three from the fan,   then probably one of the blacks wires is really blue,    and the other is white.

Next  you would connect the two dark wires to the black of the home wiring, and the white to white, from fan to house,  which I think you did,    that would put one neutral on one side of the fan,  and the fan black, and light black to the black from the house,     then everything would be controlled from the two cords, and no wall switch,        

Did you check for a tripped breaker or blown fuse?  If for some reason the old insulation was damaged or is now touching something it should not, when you tried the fan,  no power to light or fan,    because the breaker or fuse is open,     

I need some more details about what you have,    you really need to hang the new fan,  with the temp hook,     then cut the power,  however by removing the fuse or tripping the breaker,   a volt meter would be much easier to identify the house wiring,    but BE CAREFUL up on a ladder    accidents from electrical work are usually from a non lethal or non injury "shock'   the injury comes when the "shock" is felt and the person jerks back [usually on their own surprised by the tingle,  and end up falling off a ladder, or falling and pulling whatever they are working on on to them]

But at this point you need to identify what is what in the ceiling,  if both wires are black from the fan, and not blue and black,  [they make the damn blue wire a dark blue   so it is easy to confuse,     but if you are using both pull chains  then the both would go to the black from the ceiling  and white to white,    [again a motor doesn't care  as long as gets the power it needs, but keeping the hot on the hot,  by color is the way to do it if possible.

You will need to sort this out or send me some more info  even photos so I can look,    maybe I can tell without a meter,    if it becomes a real problem,  get a certified electrical person to help you,    with this old wire,  and it being fabric    care to not damage anything is important,     it might be best you have someone with experience look over the situation.

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Will Babbitt


Electrical issues of all types, wiring, control, appliances, components, specialty in Electric MOTOR or APPARATUS trouble shooting, electric motors, electrical problems, single phase, three phase, DC, capacitors, elevator MG-Sets, modifications, reverse engineering, VFD Drives, single to three phase convertors. Repair of most any electrical/mechanical/electronic apparatus, OEM, AC, DC, Industrial Applications, Three phase, single phase failure mode, determining the root cause of the equipment failure BEFORE failure repeats, Antique appliances, electric motors, fans, ceiling fans, base mount fans, poor equipment performance, Modifications, habitual failures, vibration, redesign, obsolete issues, collectible items restored, rewinding. Owner of EMR Repair Inc More information on electric motors, under Engineering/Motors Ask about any electrical or mechanical problems in the home, office, or even at your work. B2B or business to business CONSULTING I can do but it would be a much more complex issue, that would require a significant amount of time. from there we can discuss and begin work on about anything. Industrial electric motors, controls, troubleshooting, vibration, alignment, any type of industrial or commercial electric/electrcical equipment For the home owner, renter, apartment if you have odd things going on, describe to me, photos are normally very helpful, appliances, heating and air conditioning issues, light switches, installation, DIY PROJECTS FOR THOSE NOT EDUCATED IN ELECTRICAL, we can do some things, but for safety and sanity reasons, I may refer you to a local electrician, and help you find one, help you with pricing and even speak directly with anyone you hire if you have issues,


Over thirty years with a major repair and sales company, VP of Operations, and former owner of my own specialty repair shops, MEAR Services local to Kansas City Missouri EMR Repair Inc., located in Kansas City Missouri, 2014 sold both businesses to JCI Industries, Lee's Summit Missouri Evaluation and repair of electrical/mechanical apparatus. Electrical and mechanical repairs, trouble shooting including, vibration and balance issues. provides this service, and the huge costs to provide help on about any subject. They provide the servers, the people to vet the experts, costs that would be the same as operating a good sized business, They should be appreciated for what they do, the huge costs and the great help they provide for free, Electric motor questions, can be answered here but there is a dedicated category that has other experts to help and add to a solution. Other common questions, are noises in the walls, breakers tripping, devices not starting or shutting down for no apparent reason, smoke alarms buzzing, thermostat change outs, or sizing wire or needing information for a new project, but anything can be resolved, anything, with enough effort and patience, DIY, with electrical is possible, but in most cases the use of a simple ohm meter or volt meter is needed, they can be purchased at any hardware store for a few bucks. If you have smoke, or smell smoke, don't be writing me, call 911 the Fire Department has no problem looking for smoke smells, better then spraying water on a blazing fire. DO NOT GET CAUGHT INVESTIGATING AND TRAPPED IN A BASEMENT LOOKING FOR A BLOWER FAILING< As to the tip jar, it is up to you, it is appreciated, every expert spends out of pocket that I know, we spend on IP time, computer wear, printing documents, books, and of course our time, but if we prevent a $400 service call, we did well,

Former IBEW, EASA, IEEE, UL, ..............


10 plus years, various Technical Schools, followed by Industrial College Credit and non Credit Courses, electronics courses, experience in most any electrical apparatus, electric motors and generators, AC OR DC, fractional to above 5000HP, other electrical apparatus, slip rings, sleeve [plain] bearings, lubrication, identification-no data plate, control components, service and sales. I have continued night schools for decades, the list is extensive. I have been in the business of repairing most anything with wires or mechanical parts for decades, I have some helpful hints and directions you won't have to dig up. Or hopefully not have to pay a huge service call invoice to find.

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