Switch problem

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by jkp77, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. jkp77

    jkp77 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    I have one for you electricians!
    Ok... stay with me on this one... I am replacing an indoor overhead fan/light in the bedroom. The old one worked, but was getting old and noisy. Installed the new one and when I went to turn it on, no power. I took it down, reinstalled and still no power. I took out the switch, and noticed there is power coming in. I put in a new switch and still no power to the unit. I checked the wiring from the switch to the unit, all good.
    This is where it gets interesting... I took out the switch, and put the two white wires (incoming from electrical panel and outgoing to fan) together and then just touching the black wires the power works fine going to the fan/light. I have a bulb in it and it lights up great. The second I turn on the fan, the power "goes away". It does not trip the breaker! All the other lights on the same breaker are fine! If I immediately take the wires apart, and put them back together, no power. If I wait 10-15secs, then the power is back and the light works again. (Sometimes it doesn't glow as bright the less time I wait)
    So. If it doesn't trip the breaker, where is the electricity? I can actually grab the end of the wire and hold onto it.
    My voltmeter went bad last night, so I am buying one today, but for the interim, can anyone shed some light on this?
  2. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Sounds like a bad connection some where...lets see what the sparkys say...
  3. jkp77

    jkp77 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    This is the other thing I forgot to mention. Before we took down the old ceiling fan, I had no problems ever with the power. It worked fine!
    I never even opened up the switch to inspect the wires before this loss of power happened...
  4. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,532
    Location:
    North Carolina
    you have the light and fan wired in series therefore nothing works.

    Call an electrician before you burn down the house
  5. jkp77

    jkp77 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    I never touched the wiring before the problem showed itself. As I said before, it was wired properly, the fan worked and when the new fan was put in, (wired exactly the way the previous fan was since it was the same brand/wiring configurations), the power problem was detected.
  6. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,532
    Location:
    North Carolina

    Listen to what this man said

  7. kd

    kd New Member

    Messages:
    207
    Why did you say that you are connecting the white wires together? Were they not already connected together? Do you have power in the overhead outlet box? Touching wires is a useless and dangerous test. Test all wires to a separate ground source, such as the ground rod, and report back.
  8. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    We could stay with you if you included important details and left out the useless ones.

    Example....how would you "notice" there was power coming in?

    Start from the beginning.






    How many cables at the light box? How many wires/what colors.

    How many cables at the switch box? How many wires/what colors.
  9. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    I'm still trying to figure out how one could do that... only three wires, usually: hot for the light, hot for the fan, shared neutral... but it does fit the symptoms, I suppose.

    I hope he comes back, I'm looking forward to learning something on this one.
  10. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,532
    Location:
    North Carolina
    He is here now
  11. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,532
    Location:
    North Carolina
    do wish he would explain how many of what he has in each box
  12. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,522
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    fan

    the fact that the light is dim, implies that you have it connected in series with something else. You have to reevaluate your wires to determine exactly what each does.
  13. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

    Messages:
    1,328
    Location:
    Columbus, OH
    You should have 14/2 (Black+White) coming in to the switchbox from the breaker. You should also have 14/3 (Black+Red+White) from the switchbox to the fan.

    Kill power.

    Connect both white wires together at the switchbox. Connect incoming black wire to two six inch pigtails. One pigtail to one screw on each of the two switches. Connect red wire going to fan/light to one switch's remain screw. Connect blackwire going to fan/light to the other switch's remaining screw. Bond the grounds to eachother and the switches (and to the box if metal)

    At the fan, connect white wire to the one or two white wires. Connect the blackwire to the fan's black wire. Connect the red wire to the light's blue or red or striped black wire. Connect ground to fan chassis (green screw) (and to the box if metal).

    Check connections. Turn on Power.

    Should be good to go. That's the standard way to wire it when power comes in the switch.

    Jason
  14. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Except it's also pretty rare, outside of new construction.

    and he only mentions one switch.

    He's probably got 12/2 coming in & going out, a single switch to turn the whole deal on & off; fan/light controlled by pullchains @ the fan.

    Either way, I don't think he's given us enough info for us to be giving him instructions. We're working blind, and that's not very safe. IMHO.
  15. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    Should have, could have.

    There is no way of knowing what he has. We could come up with a dozen likely scenarios especially with homeowner involvement.


    Or productive.
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