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Thread: Troubleshooting Ceiling Fan

  1. #1

    Default Troubleshooting Ceiling Fan

    I'm working on a ceiling fan with light. The light works, but the fan doesn't. I removed the fan pull chain switch and disconnected all the wires. I used my volt meter, and there is definitely power going to the switch.

    There are 4 wires: black, brown, white, and green that were connected to the switch. Which 2 wires do I touch together in order to bypass the switch? And if the fan still doesn't work, do I just assume that the fan motor is shot or is there another way to test the fan motor?

  2. #2
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Just replace the fan

  3. #3
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    That is a 3 speed motor. You have to follow the wires from the source. You have probably a black ( hot) and a white (neutral). The neutral will go direct to one motor lead. The black will go to the switch, and will come out on one of the three leads depending on which speed is selected.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by jimbo
    That is a 3 speed motor. You have to follow the wires from the source. You have probably a black ( hot) and a white (neutral). The neutral will go direct to one motor lead. The black will go to the switch, and will come out on one of the three leads depending on which speed is selected.
    All of the wires were connected to the switch. Should I just touch the black wire to any of the other 3 wires to bypass the switch?

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by jwelectric
    Just replace the fan
    This is a very large and very expensive fan. If it only needs a fan switch, why should we replace the whole thing?

  6. #6
    Jack of all trades frenchie's Avatar
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    If it has multiple speeds, I'd worry about trying the wrong two, and burning out the motor or something... so don't go randomly trying any two.

    Why not just swap out the switch? Seems like the safest, most foolproof way to check it. If, in fact, the switch isn't the problem, you'll only be out the price of a switch, which I can't imagine are very expensive...

    Another approach: google the make & model number, see if you can find or get a copy of the installation instructions. There's often clear directions on bypassing the pullcord switch, for when people want to control it at the wall switch instead.

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member BrianJohn's Avatar
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    If you have a multi-meter using the ohm scale you can check the motor leads to each other (you should obtain a resistance reading varying depending on which leads you test to the neutral/white conductor. Next test each conductor to the frame of the motor, this should read open.

  8. #8
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Verdeboy
    This is a very large and very expensive fan. If it only needs a fan switch, why should we replace the whole thing?
    I would never try to repair a ceiling fan. Just replace the fan

  9. #9
    DIY Member Backglass's Avatar
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    This may be obvious, but are there pull chains / place for pull chains? Perhaps the internal speed switch is in the off position. Add a chain...yank once.

  10. #10
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Not having a wiring diagram for that fan, I cannot recommend touching wires together. But you could check the switch with an ohm-meter. Do this with all power off, and the swicth removed from the circuit.

    My GUESS would be that the black is the incoming. As you cycle through the pull settings, in the OFF postion, there would be no continuity from the black to any other wire. In the low/med/high positions, there would be continuity from the black to one of the other wires. You could buy a new switch and compare the reading. Switches are readily available, usually easy to install, and are a fairly high failure rate item on ceiling fans, so it is worth checking it out,.

  11. #11
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
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    If this fan has a capacitor and I would all but guarantee that it does you should be careful that you donít get false readings while testing.

    If you should cross some to the wiring on the fan the capacitor could explode causing damage to the fan or even you.

    My advice is to replace the fan. If the fan has been used to the point that things are starting to fail it will continue to pose problems.
    The bearings in the motor are just as old and worn as the rest to the appliance.

    Again, my advice is to replace the fan.

  12. #12

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    Normally, in this situation, I clearly mark all the wires and just replace the fan pull cord switch. I thought there would be a simple way to bypass the switch to check the fan motor. But it seems like there is no reliable way to do this, especially since it's an old fan and there are no wiring diagrams.

    Thanks to all.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Verdeboy
    I'm working on a ceiling fan with light. The light works, but the fan doesn't. I removed the fan pull chain switch and disconnected all the wires. I used my volt meter, and there is definitely power going to the switch.

    There are 4 wires: black, brown, white, and green that were connected to the switch. Which 2 wires do I touch together in order to bypass the switch? And if the fan still doesn't work, do I just assume that the fan motor is shot or is there another way to test the fan motor?
    Which color is the power?

    The switch simply connects the power to the other 3 wires, one at a time, for the 3 speeds.

    You were ALMOST there.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alectrician
    Which color is the power?

    The switch simply connects the power to the other 3 wires, one at a time, for the 3 speeds.

    You were ALMOST there.
    The black is the hot wire. That's why I asked if I could simply touch the black wire to any of the other 3 wires to bypass the fan switch. I've gotten mixed answers, so I was just going to replace the switch and see what happens.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Verdeboy
    The black is the hot wire. That's why I asked if I could simply touch the black wire to any of the other 3 wires to bypass the fan switch. .

    The answer is yes. That's all the switch does.

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