New Ceiling Fan Spark Out

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Kiko, Jul 20, 2009.

  1. Kiko

    Kiko New Member

    Messages:
    175
    Location:
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    I was replacing an old ceiling fan today with a new flush-mounted Montecarlo, model #94250, purchased at Lowe's. The wiring in the ceiling box included a red wire, which was used to power the old fan, a white wire, a ground wire, and a black wire, which was simply capped off with a wire nut. I checked the wall switch, and the red wire ran from the wall switch to the old fan, while the black wire that was capped off came from a cluster of black wires that were tied together behind the wall switch.

    I connected the (switched) red wire in the ceiling box to the black and blue wires of the ceiling fan. I connected the two whites together, and connected all the grounds together. I tucked the redundant black wire back up into the ceiling box, as it was before.

    After the fan was completely assembled, I powered it up from the wall switch. The lights worked fine and the fan worked fine on low speed. I then pulled the chain to change the fan speed, at which time, it sparked out and the fan stopped, yet all the lights still worked.

    On this model, you have two plugs that need to be connected from the fan motor to the light fixture. I checked these connections, and they were plugged in correctly (they are color coded). However, the yellow wire that runs between the two plugs (on the light fixture side) was completely burned out. I called the manufacturer's technical support, and they said the fan switch was most likely the culprit, but they couldn't tell me why.

    They said to exchange the fan for another one at Lowe's.

    Has anyone ever experienced this problem in a brand new ceiling fan?
    Does anyone know why the fan switch caused that wire to flame out?
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2009
  2. ActionDave

    ActionDave Electrician

    Messages:
    346
    Location:
    Colorado
    Exchange the fan.
  3. Kiko

    Kiko New Member

    Messages:
    175
    Location:
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    I plan on exchanging it, but that is not a very informative answer.

    I would like one of the professionals to comment on the wiring. Why is there an extra black wire up there?
    What may have caused that yellow wire to burn out?

    I'm worried that the next one may do the same thing.
  4. nickdel

    nickdel New Member

    Messages:
    32
    The extra black wire is a constant hot for the fan part of the fixture, so you can run the fan and light separately. The idea is that you can turn the light on and off from the wall switch, as required, while not affecting the function of the fan. The fan will be controlled only by the pull chain. Also, if you wanted to you could take the black wire in the switch box out of the splice, and put it on a second switch so you'd be controlling both the fan and light from switches in the wall, but 2 different switches.

    As for the switch burning out, the answer "bad switch" pretty much explains it. Without being able to examine the wiring/switch before and after the event, it's impossible to be able to point to the exact problem. Burning usually means either a short or a bad connection. Hard to know which. If I was forced to guess I would say loose/bad connection. This might cause an arc that would be hot enough to burn a wire and be bright enough to see. It also wouldn't trip a regular breaker, necessarily. This is a defect in the unit and is unlikely to happen again. But, you could, rather than exchange it, return it and try a different manufacturer if you want.
  5. Kiko

    Kiko New Member

    Messages:
    175
    Location:
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    Thanks a lot!

    So the constant hot wire for the fan does not require a separate neutral to complete the fan circuit?

    Also, the yellow wire was burned in the middle, rather than at one of the plug ends, so it seems that it wasn't a bad connection.
    Was there too much current going through it? And, if so, why?
  6. ActionDave

    ActionDave Electrician

    Messages:
    346
    Location:
    Colorado
    There was current going outside of the insulation, which could have been damaged from the factory or when you set the screws for the light kit.

    Your first question-the constant hot and the switch leg for the lights share the neutral back to the panel so.....(no sarcasm here just trying to explain w/o typing too much)
  7. Kiko

    Kiko New Member

    Messages:
    175
    Location:
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    I think that I must have stabbed or pinched a wire with one of the light kit screws enough to puncture the insulation. That makes more sense than the fan switch being bad. When I pulled the chain to send current down that wire, it must have shorted out.

    I don't know why the technical support team for Montecarlo Fans did not think of that scenario.

    I will try taping or rubber-banding those wires, to keep them out of the way when I install the replacement.

    Thanks to all who responded.
  8. enosez

    enosez Member

    Messages:
    88
    Location:
    Long Island NY
    Beacuase they dont want to tell you that it was your fault!!;)
  9. Kiko

    Kiko New Member

    Messages:
    175
    Location:
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    Well, I installed the new fan switch, and everything works fine.
    The tiny light kit screws were miles away from any wires, so I doubt I had stabbed one of them the first time around.

    I guess the fan switch must just have been defective after all. ;)
  10. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    It is well known that china produces crap electrical products. You bought a piece of &^%#$% from Lowes, and SURPRISE it was a dud. Don't overthink the obvious.
  11. jar546

    jar546 In the Trades

    Messages:
    432
    Location:
    USA
    Problem #1: You made a mistake during installation by not knowing what all wires did before you hooked them up.

    Problem #2: Problem #1 caused the fixture wiring to be damaged.

    Solution: Learn about basic electricity and house wiring before you proceed.

    Lesson learned but of course the customer is always right so they will exchange the fixture for you. Just make sure you know what you are doing for the next installation. They may question you if you have to bring back a 2nd fixture.
  12. Kiko

    Kiko New Member

    Messages:
    175
    Location:
    Royal Oak, Michigan
    Jar, you are correct that I did not know what all the wires were for (at the start), but I did not change the wiring scheme at any time.

    The only thing that changed was the fan switch, which works fine now. The extra hot wire remains capped off, and both the fan and light work off the light switch.

    I agree that ignorance could potentially be dangerous, but I just don't see how you came to the conclusion that not knowing what that extra capped-off wire was for (up in the electrical box), somehow caused the wiring inside the fan switch to become faulty. :confused:
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2009
  13. funnyceline

    funnyceline New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Phil
    There should be a warranty for the ceiling fan. You should exchange the unit with a new one.
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