I started what I thought would be medium difficulty project and now on
I wanted to install a ceiling fan in the master bedroom. There currently
are no ceiling lights, just a wall switch which controls half of the wall
outlets. I have access to the basement and attic and since there is no
wiring in the basement, I assumed it all ran through the attic. Wrong,
nothing up there either, it all runs through the walls.
I found the header above the wall switch and drilled a one inch hole through
that and see that I'm in the right space after shinning a light down.
How do I proceed?
The wall box has two 14/3 romex coming in and both reds are tied together
with a jumper from that to the switch. Same for the blacks and a jumper.
The two whites are tied together.
Do I tear out the wall box, find the hot red, fish a line down from the
attic and run a new line to the fan? I want to lose the switched outlets
and have both halves of the outlets hot all the time. Then the switch can
control the fan.
Or...I'm assuming one of those 14/3 cables has power on both red and black.
Could I run a 14/3 cable to the fan and have separate light and fan switch
given the setup in that box now? I'm thinking three blacks tied together,
two reds (losing the switched outlets feature) with jumper to both switches.
Any guidance would be appreciated. Summer is here and that attic is getting
Umm, not really... That is already identified... The white wire is
neutral and the black wire is the constant feed in the circuit the OP
He can locate where his circuit is being fed from as there will be an
outlet box in the master bedroom which has two wires, a 14/2 supply
cable feeding the circuit and a single 14/3 which runs from the first
box with the feeder to the next box in the circuit looping through all
of the boxes in the run until there is a box at the end of the circuit
with only a single 14/3 cable in it... There might be an additional
14/2 cable in the feeder box which runs to another part of the house
if there are other areas also powered by that circuit in that house...
Is this a regular switch or 3way? Assuming it's a regular switch,
best guess would be that the blacks are the hot wire and the reds are
the switched side. All you need to do is identify the hot. Then you
need to permanently connect the black to red, eliminating the
switch. Then you replace the switch with a fan control switch,
connecting the switch to hot, wire from it to fan, and neutral to the
fan tied to the other neutrals. The hardest part will be snaking
between the switch box and the hole in the top plate. You should be
able to do that by punching out a hole in the top of the box. You
definitely don't want to tear the box out, unless it's an old work box
that you can see will come out. Regular boxes are nailed to the
Another option that may be easier and better is to use a wireless
remote to control the fan. They also have holders so you can have a
resting place for it next to the switch. But you could also use it
next to the bed to adjust the fan without getting up. If you go that
route, all you need is to find a circuit in the attic that you can tap
on to. The fan gets powered up permanently.
You're going to get varying opinions about a solution. You'll need to
decide which one works best for you.
Solution 1. Personally I'm not big on ceiling fan/light remote
controls. It's just one more thing to break or get lost. All my
installations have a switch for the light and a 3-speed switch for the
fan both installed in a wall box. To do that you will need to remove
your old box, drop a 14/3 line down to the hole in the wall, install
an old work box, and rewire it. You have power at the existing
location so you can do this. Switching to a double box will give you
more room to work since you already have a number of wires in the box
that have to stay.
Solution 2. Another poster said just find power in the attic
somewhere and run it straight to the fan/light and use a remote for on/
off for both. You can do this as well. You need to make sure that
the wire you find in the attic is not on some other switch. Trouble
with that is that it is hard to tell. You can push the leads of a vom
through the insulation and test. Some people don't like doing that
as it leaves small holes. It's not really a problem. Once you find a
line that always has power then make sure you can get some slack in
it. You will need some slack to cut it and splice in your new line.
That can be a pain as welll as many electricians don't leave much
slack. You will need to mount a box on a ceiling joist or roof frame
to do the splice in. Run a new piece of 14/2 from that location to
your fan ceiling box.
As I said I'm partial to the first solution.
The first choice is what I'm leaning towards. The only two feeds I can find
in the attic are for the only two ceiling fixtures in the entire house.
Kitchen and dinette area and both are switched.
Anywho...my plan is to replace the single with a double box and then fish
the 14/3 in. I think it would be almost impossible to try and fish one into
the existing single box w/o removing it, so I might just as well put in the
double and give myself a little room to work. Too hot this week, a little
cool down expected on the weekend. Running out of time.
Get the double old work box first so you knwo how big to make the
hole. Remove the old box, enlarge the hole for the new double old
work box, fish the 14/3 in that order :-)
Sometimes the original hole is a little too tall. Position the new
old work box so the swing tab on that side is at the edge of the wall
who replied to a person who was telling you to hire an electrician, assuming
your time is worth more than a dollar an hour.
Assuming your time is worth more than a dollar an hour you're already pissed
away the price of an electrician with the time spent discussing the task on
The general tone of this group is mostly diy. It's a real pain in the
butt to find a real electrician to do a job this small. Most won't
bother. You'll end up with a a handyman which in many states is not
even legal because you are supposed to be a licensed tradesman to work
on electrical, gas, hvac, etc if the structure is not yours. Plus if
he does it himself he will have learned something along he way as well
as gained the satisfaction of doing it himself.
You could tear out that box and replace it with an old work box. I'd
conside a double box as that would give you a bit more room to work
since you need to couple the hot to the outlets in there as well. You
are allowed to run a 14/3 from the box to a ceiling box for the fan.
Black to the light and red to the fan is typical. Then you can put a
switch for the light and another for the fan in your new box. You can
get fan speed controls in place of the switch if you would like.
I remove old boxes by disconnecting all the wires and removeing all
the switches/outlets what ever. Then use a screwdriver to pry the box
away from the stud a little. Thes will let you slip a bare hacksaw
blade between the box and the stud. They make handles that will hold
it or you can just wrap a rag around it. Saw through the nails
holding the box to the stud. Once it's free you can work it out of
the hole. Then enlarge your hole if you're going for the double box.
Fish the new piece of 14/3 down from the attic. Getting all the wires
into the old work box while getting it in the hole in the wall is a
chore but it can be done.
Another option would be to leave the switch for the outlets, go to a
double box but get one of those combined light/fan controls that fits
in the space of a single switch. That might be more appealing to the
next owner as well.
The OP shouldn't need to tear out the existing box and replace it...
That would only be necessary to do if the existing box is not large
enough to contain all the conductors necessary to run the circuits...
The OP would have 3 white wires, 3 black wires, 3 red wires,
3 grounding conductors and 2 or 3 pigtails to feed the switches...
The OP could then obtain a combination switch device made
by Leviton in the Decora product line which could have either
two or three single pole switches on one device strap which
fits in a single gang box...
It's almost impossible to run a new wire down from a hole in the top
of the wall in the attic and get it inside an existing box. It's much
easier to remove the box, then run the 14/3 down form the attic. It
will be easy to grab with the hole in the wall where the box goes.
Especially if he opts for a double box old work replacement.
I am thinking you have some clue of how things work, but that
you don't know enough to do anything useful in this scenario...
What you have is the control switch located in the middle of
the wiring run in your master bedroom... Hence the two 14/3
wires running in and out of the switch box...
The black wire is hot all the time, as it is feeding power to the
entire circuit... The red wire only gets power -- in the middle
of the run -- when the switch feeding it power is turned on,
it supplies power to both red wires which run to different
outlet locations in the room...
Let's leave the ceiling fan issue aside for a moment, there are
three ways you can have all of the outlets constant:
(1.) Replace all the divided outlets with new ones that match the
color of the rest of the electrical devices in your home... Do not
break the tab off the side of the outlet between the two hot supply
screws and when you install the outlets only connect the black
wire to each outlet... Cap off the red wire in each box with a
wire nut and tuck it neatly into the box... All outlets will be
(2.) Obtain some black wire of the correct size for your circuit,
cut 7" lengths of wire, stripping 1/2" of insulation off each end...
Open up the wire nut connecting the black wires in each outlet
box and connect your new piece of wire into the pigtail...
Put the wire nut back on, now you will have two back pigtails,
disconnect the red wire from the outlet at each box, capping
it off with a wire nut and tucking it back into the box...
Attach your new black wire to the empty hot supply screw on
the outlet and your outlets are all constant...
(3.) At the switch box, open up the wire nut connecting the
black wires together, now do the same for the red wires,
remove the short piece of red wire which used to run to
the switch as it is no longer needed... Twist the two red
wires that run in and out of the box together with the
existing pigtail of black wires... Put the correct size
wire nut on and now all your outlets are constant...
That solves the outlets issue... Which honestly you
might still want to have half of the outlets near your
bed switched for lamps even after you install the
ceiling fan, but you can pick your personal preference
above to have all your outlets constant if you wish...
Now for your ceiling fan question... All you need to
do for that is tap off of the existing white wire and
black wire at the switch box location... You can
run a segment of 14/3 wire up the wall cavity to
the spot above the ceiling where you want to cut
in a proper box which will support a ceiling fan...
The white wire is connected normally... The
black wire would supply the fan motor power,
and it would be switched and the red wire would
power the lights on the fan and it would also
be switched... To power both switches you would
only need to add an additional 7" piece of black
wire in the switch box with 1/2" insulation stripped
off each end to create the additional hot pigtail to
supply the new switch...
Good luck with your project...
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