+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 9 of 9
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    5

    Default Replacing old ceiling fan w/ light. 7 black wires?

    Hello, I just purchased my house last October and am now replacing an old ceiling fan with a bulbish looking ceiling light. The house was built in 1940 and i am in maryland. When i took down the ceiling fan the wires looked typical (black/black, white/white) so i just removed the fan and put it outside. I then began to try to match up the colors but then i ran into a problem. The old wires are all thick & black with cloth type insulation on them and there are a total of 7 wires. I didnít know which ones were hot or neutral so i unwind all of them and went and turned the breaker back on and only 1 of them was hot (found out with a voltage detector). So then i turned off the breaker and began putting each of the other wires with the hot one individually and Turing the breaker back on and if the breaker automatically tripped i assumed it was a neutral and not hot. I did this with all of them and came up with 4 "hot" wires and 3 "neutral" wires; this is if this method is correct. I then put all the hot wires together and all the neural together with the lights black/white wires and the light did in fact turn on but i noticed that it came on with the light switch being in the "off" position. I then turned it "on" thinking it would maybe turn off and the breaker tripped. I have tried almost every combination of mixtures of wires and the light always comes on and when i flick the switch and the breaker trips. What am i doing wrong and is there a better way to see if i have the "hot" with the hot and the neutral with the neutral? Any help would be appricated!
    -Brandon

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,361

    Default Re: Replacing old ceiling fan w/ light. 7 black wires?

    One of the pairs of black/white wires likely goes to the switch. The way you describe what you've done, when you turn on the switch it creates a short circuit causing the breaker to trip.

    First, turn off the p0wer at the circuit breaker.

    Then, remove the fixture and undo all of the wires, so nothing is connected to anything else.

    Turn the switch ON. Using a voltmeter set to "ohms" test each PAIR of black+white wires (you should be able to identify the pairs, as they will likely enter the box together) until you find the pair that reads zero ohms. For an analog meter, the needle will swing all the way to the right.

    (With the old cloth-covered wires, it can be tough to tell which is black and which is white, because the color fades until they look about the same. Look closely; you may find subtle differences in color that will help you out. It's a bit odd to have seven wires; perhaps you have knob & tube wiring in which case you have no "pairs.")

    Verify that you've identified the correct pair by turning the switch off, then testing again. This time, you should not get an ohm reading; the needle on the meter shouldn't move at all. Mark this pair by wrapping each wire with a piece of black tape.

    Now, connect all of the other BLACK wires together along with the black switch wire.

    Connect the white wire from the switch to the black wire from the light fixture.

    Connect all of the other white wires together along with the white wire from the light fixture.

    In this way, the black wires (the "hots") are all tied together, the whites ("neutral") are tied together, and the switch acts like a valve to control the flow of electricity from the hot to the fixture.
    Last edited by Fencepost; 02-27-2011 at 05:47 PM.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Replacing old ceiling fan w/ light. 7 black wires?

    Ok thanks for the quick response. I dont have a voltmeter all i have is a voltage decector that just beeps if there is ***** going threw a wire so ill have to go pick one up tomarrow and see if this fixes the problem. There are only 2 wires that are in the same jacket (maybe this goes to the switch,have to get a voltmeter) and all the other ones are separate. Last night i was about to give up and leave all the wires separate and cap them for the night when my wife relized the bedroom beside the dining room (where the light is being installed) didnt turn on, so i tied together all the wires i believed to be noy neutral and it turned back on so i assumed that this box was kinda like a tree trunk and it branched out to other rooms to light them. I found the one wire that went to that room and put a different color tape on it so i wouldnt forget. I just dont understand why there was be 3 "white?" and 4 "black?" wires. I have changed out lights in other rooms and there was only 2 thick black wires so i had a 50/50 chance of getting it right the first time and this one has 7. Thanks again!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Replacing old ceiling fan w/ light. 7 black wires?

    7 wires .......

    hot and neutral from the panel = 2

    constant feed to switch = 1

    switched feed = 1

    hot and neutral to another circuit = 2

    hot feed for another circuit shared neutral = 1


    reason for the light coming on while the switch was in the *off* postion --- you wired the light to the constant feed ( the wire that shows electricity all the time ) instead of the switched feed.

    Reason for the breaker tripping when you turned the switch to *on* --- one wire from the switch ( switched feed ) was connected to the neutral instead of the black wire of the light.

    More than likely you have other lights and/or receptacles not working in other parts of the house.


    Unfortunately you didn't mark the wiring before disconnecting things and as it happened you picked a multi-branch junction box to work on.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Replacing old ceiling fan w/ light. 7 black wires?

    When I had all of the wires separate and turned the ***** on there was only 1live wire, so I need to put this with the neutral wires?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Replacing old ceiling fan w/ light. 7 black wires?

    Quote Originally Posted by xbmoyx88 View Post
    When I had all of the wires separate and turned the ***** on there was only 1live wire, so I need to put this with the neutral wires?
    No !!! That would be a dead short and trip the breaker or blow a fuse.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: Replacing old ceiling fan w/ light. 7 black wires?

    Ok so ill find the black/hot wire that comes from the light switch and tie in all of the blacks with blacks and whites with whites.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    5

    Smile Re: Replacing old ceiling fan w/ light. 7 black wires?

    Finally got it! There were 2 hot wires and I put the one with the wire I know lights the bedroom beside the dining room and put the other to the black wire on the ceiling light and put all of the rest with each other and the light comes on but finally and only with the light switch and the breaker doesn't trip! Thanks for everyone help!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Replacing old ceiling fan w/ light. 7 black wires?

    Good to hear you got things sorted out.
    Next time label the wires * BEFORE * disconnecting things. That way you won't run into confusion and you'll look like a hero to the wife
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •