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Wiring Issue

We purchased an old farm house with a wiring issue. A bedroom has a ceiling fan, wall switch & a duplex outlet in the wall. With the ceiling fan off I plugged a sweeper into the outlet. When I turned the sweeper switch on, the sweeper didn't work but the ceiling fan came on. I don't know where to begin looking for the problem.

Re: Wiring Issue

Someone wired the receptacle in series with the fan.

Since the sweeper draws so much more current than the fan it acts as a conductor to the fan.

I'll bet if you put a 40W bulb in a lampholder and plug it into that outlet both lamps will burn at half brilliance.

Go to the switchbox and try to reconnect the wire that feeds the fan light to a black wire that is always energized (without anything plugged into the weird outlet).

Good Luck, from Columbiana, AL

Maurice Turgeon, thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

Re: Wiring Issue

Thanks for your help.

I just checked the switch & outlet.

The switch has one black wire on top & one white wire on the bottom.

The outlet has one white wire on the top, right side. On the left side there is one black wire on the bottom screw plus the bare ground wire on the ground screw.

Re: Wiring Issue

You're probably going to need an electrician. If you want to do some preliminary checks, get a non-contact voltage detector at Lowes and then find the breaker the receptacle and fan are on. It may even be two different breakers. Turn off the breaker, and put a piece of tape on every switch and receptacle that are on that circuit. This might help the electrician find the problem quicker. Once you have done this there is not much else you can do without a good working knowledge of electricity. It could be due to a loose connection on a shared neutral, or any of a dozen ways to miswire something. If you want to tackle it yourself, I would suggest Home Improvement 123 from Home Depot to get an understanding of how to wire homes. It also has excellent sections on plumbing, flooring, and other areas you will need to keep an old house repaired.

Re: Wiring Issue

Thanks. I'll probably go ahead & contact someone, but first I think I may pull the fan down & try to figure out how it's wired. I appreciate your help.

Re: Wiring Issue

The outlet wires are correct, a black and a white and a ground.

The colors on the switch are black and white, which is also good, if using romex. The white should have a piece of black tape on it to show it's an ungrounded conductor.

Looks like the fan p0wer is being supplied to the ceiling box. You will need to open it up and determine if there is constant 120 volt ***** there, usually supplied by a black and white wire.

1)Mark how you find the wires then disconnect all the wires, except the grounds.

2)Locate the black & white wire that has constant 120 volts, with a tester Use an AC range of at least 300 volts) which can be purchased from Home Depot or Lowes (be sure it can also measure ohms. Mark them.

3)Caution: Before trying to use the ohms function always test for the presence of voltage (on a scale of at at least 300 volts. If you try to measure resistance on the ohms scale and voltage is present you will destroy the meter.
Turn the switch on and off and locate which pair of wires go to the switch. The ohm meter will measure 0 ohms when the switch is on.

4)Mark the white wire to the switch with a piece of black tape and connect it to the black wire you located in step (2)

5)Connect the black wire from the switch found in step (3) to the black or possibly blue wire to the fan.

6) Connect the white wire from the fan to the white wire found in step (2).

7) The fan should now be controlled from the switch.

8) Connect any remaining white wires in the box to the white wire found in step (2)

9) Connect any remaining black wires in the box to the black wire located in step (2)

10) The receptacle which was not wired properly, should now be OK.

Good Luck, from Columbiana, AL

Maurice Turgeon, thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

Re: Wiring Issue

Thanks for the guidance. I haven't done any more yet but plan to use your advice this weekend. I'll let you know how it turns out. Thanks again!

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