02:27PM | 06/03/06
Member Since: 06/02/06
3 lifetime posts
Replacing old ceiling fan that stopped working.

New fan with light kit.

Existing Lutton dual dimmer (one pull for the fan, one for the fan lights).

With dimmers full on, measure 120v from the neutral to gnd and from black to gnd at the fan box.

With dimmers full off, 0v from neutral to gnd and 0v from black to gnd.

With fan connected black/blue to black and white to white, and dimmers on, neither fan or light work

With fan black/blue to black and fan white to gnd, both fan and light come on. What's up? Could the dimmer have gone south?




05:14PM | 06/03/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
How was the old one wired?

With a minor exception* the wiring from the wall controller requires a THREE conductors (plus ground, if used).

Now I gather from your description that power is coming into the switch box and then a cable or conduit from the switch to the ceiling fan.

The fan has ground, neutral (white), fan hot (black) and light hot (blue typically).

You need 3 wires from the fan controller.

White, neutral, Black and Red (if a cable, if conduit other colors might be used), but a ground if used.

You should have never measured 120 from neutral to ground.

It appears that they have CHEATED and used the neutral and another hot.


Open up the switch box and see what is in it and what is wired to what.

*The exception is that when a remote controller is used. A new specially fans have a built in receiver that can be used to control the fan and light separately, but they need a special wall controller and that should come with the fan or at least the instruction should mention it.

There are also add on system that consists of a special wall controller and receiver that mounts inside the fan.

Hunter has one. I don't beleive that Lutron has any, but I might be wrong.


11:20AM | 06/04/06
Member Since: 06/02/06
3 lifetime posts
The Lutron double dimmer switch in the wall box has it's yellow wire to the white in the cable that runs up to the fan box in the ceiling.

The switch red is wired to the black in that same cable. The switch black is wired to another black in the switch housing shared with a light switch that shrares the same housing. There are a total of four cables (black,white,gnd in each) entering the switch box. Two for the 3-way light switch and 2 for the fan.

At the fan box, there are 2 cables (black,white,gnd in each). The old fan had it's black wired to the black from one of these cables, the fan white to the white from the same cable, and the fan blue to the other white from the second cable. The remaining black was unused. The greens were connected to ground.

I've now replaced the fan and the Lutron double dimmer switch. I've wired them up the same as before.

I'm at a loss as to what to check next?


12:35PM | 06/04/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
Technically using 2 cables, instead of 1 3 wire cable is against the code.

But for this load it is not that great of a error, but it can lead to confusion.

My guess is that you have the two cable mixed up. And depending on what you where using to measure it then you might have gotten phantom voltage readings that lead you astray.

Here is how I would tackle this.

Get two ordinary switch for testing.

At the switch end connect BOTH wire wires to the white on the incoming power neutral (which ever cable black wire or common on the Lutron is connected to).

And at the fan connect both both whites to the fan white.

From the power hot connect to one terminal on each of the new switches. Conect the other terminal on each switch to the one of each black wire in the cabels to the fan.

At the fan connect one black to the fan black and the other to the fan lights (blue).

Then you one switch should work the fan and the other one the fan lights.

At that point you should be be able to control the fan with one switch and the lights with the other one.

Now that you have done that you want to mark, at each end, the black wire that is used for the lights. The best is probably to get some red, blue, or yellow electrical tape.

Now if that is all working correctly then you can reinstall the Lutron controller.

HOWEVER, USE CAUTION. YOU COMMENT THAT THE 3 WAY IS ALSO WIRED WITH 2 2-WIRE CABLES INDICATES THAT HE PLAYED MORE TRICKS. AND I DON'T SEE HOW HE IS GETTING SUPPLY POWER AND RUNNING A 3 WAY SWITCH WITHOUT SOMEPLACE DOING SOMETHING HIGHLY ILLEGAL AND DANGEROUS. (There is one exception and that is if it is not truely a 3-way switch, but rahter an x-10 or similar sytem with remote controls. But such a switch would only two terminals (plus ground) and have switches to set the code.)

You may need to get in an electrican and have the room rewired.


02:53PM | 06/04/06
Member Since: 06/02/06
3 lifetime posts
Thanks for all the good information.

I believe you're correct on what was done when the house was built (it's a 20yr old duplex).

They did use a second 2 wire cable (pls gnd) to provide the needed third wire for the fan light.

I've determined they used the white wire from this second cable for the fan light. The black wire from that second cable was capped in the ceiling box.

So, the original fan and light kit which stopped working has tested good elsewhere. Ditto for the original Lutron double dimmer. At this point, I suspect the wiring from the wall box to the ceiling box but have no way to determine if it's good. (plus the atic was like 200 degrees today).

Can a professional use some sort of meter to determin if the wires have a problem? All I have is a digital volt meter which still shows 122v between gnd and both the white and black wire in the first cable at the ceiling box and 0v between the white wire and gnd in the second cable.

Thanks again,



03:53PM | 06/04/06
Member Since: 04/25/05
1915 lifetime posts
The problemm is that the DVM has very high imput impedence. You can often get a phanton voltage reading on an open wire because of the capacity couple to a hot wire.

Nowever, that will normally not be full voltage read. But that shows how sensitive that they are. A high resistance connect (bad connection) can allow the meter to read full voltage, but not be able to supply enough power for even a night light.

Often an electrican will use a "wiggly" to measure the voltage. It takes lots of power and thus will not give false indication. But it is relatively crude device in terms of accuracy. But it is perfect for this kind of trouble shooting.

They also have tone tracers that can be used to help ID which cable is which.

"So, the original fan and light kit which stopped working has tested good elsewhere. Ditto for the original Lutron double dimmer. At this point, I suspect the wiring from the wall box to the ceiling box but have no way to determine if it's good."

Either you did not mention this earlier or I missed it. Yes, there is a defect in the wiring someplace.

I agree that there is a definity problem with the wiring.

Based on the fact that 2 cables was used and the white and not the black I suspect that the first cable installed was bad because of an over nailed staple or a nail through the cable and a 2nd one installed. Then the damage cable now has caused it to fail completely.

An electrican will probably just run a new 3 wire cable rather than trying to trouble shoot this one, which is not legal anyway.

However, there may be more going on then it appears. Since this was done incorrectly in the first place there might be other problems such as a hidden box in the wall.

Find one that has some experience trouble shooting and doing "old wiring".

One that mostly just does new wiring can easly get lost in a problem like this and burn up too much time. And might not have the skills to run a new cable without opening the walls.

Post back after you get it solved. Interesting to find out what the problem was.

Click to reply button
Inspiration banner


Post a reply as Anonymous

Photo must be in JPG, GIF or PNG format and less than 5MB.

Reply choose button


Post new button or Login button

To test the boundaries of small-footprint living, interior designer Jessica Helgerson moved her family to a 540-square-foo... Filling an underutilized area beneath the stairs is a smart way to save space. Doing so with a stash of wood, however, is ... The Audubon Society inspired wallpaper in this Adirondack-styled mudroom will get you in the outdoor mood. Grab your coat ... Chalkboard paint opens up endless possibilities for customizing your dresser time and time again. Use chalk to label the c... A fireplace in the bathroom creates the ultimate setting for relaxation. Homeowners often choose electric or gas over wood... This roomy boot tray made from punched metal stands up to all the elements. Station it in your mudroom or at your back doo... There’s nothing like a new set of cabinet hardware to refresh a room. The possibilities are endless: Go modern, rustic, or... FLOR tiles are an affordable way to customize a carpeted floor covering for any space. Make anything from runners to wall-... Chalkboard paint features prominently in this elegant yet unpretentious headboard design. Add a new message daily to reflec... Salvaged boards in varying widths and colors make up the dramatic accent wall in this attic space. The high-gloss white of... The indecisive homeowner need not fret over choosing one (or even two) cabinet colors. The kitchen cabinets in this artist... Incorporate nature into your lighting scheme by securing a dead tree in a concrete mold and draping your pendant lamp from... Simple and striking, a couple of pieces of "lovingly used" furniture creates a special kind of charm. A weathered chair fo... First dress up your metal shelves with a coat of paint in an accent color that complements your kitchen decor. Then arrang... Dark wood shelving and a matching upholstered bench keep this closet sleek and refined. The large window brightens the sub...
Follow banner a
Newsletter icon Flipboard glossy Facebook Twitter Pinterest Youtube Rss icon