Red Wire in Ceiling Light Outlet

I am very new to home repair and have a lighting outlet question. When our house was built we had the contractor put in outlets for ceiling fans/lights. These outlets have 4 wires. One white, one black, one red, and one bare copper ground wire.
My question is, what is the red wire for?
I installed a ceiling light (no fan) in one of the outlets. I connected the white wire to the lamps neutral wire (white). I connected the black wire to the lamps hot wire (black). I connected the ground wire to the lamps ground wire (bare copper). I left the red wire unconnected. There is a green ground screw in the ceiling lights frame that holds it up, but I did not connect anything to it. I also did not cap the red wire.
Am I going to burn my house down? The light works and doesn't trip the circuit breaker. I'm just concerned about the red wire and want to know if there is anything it should be connected to (or should it be capped).
Thanks in advance for your help.
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Unknown wrote:

Fan.

Bad bad bad! At least cap it off. It may be live.
Frankly I would hook the fan to it so you can turn the light on without the fan or the fan without the light. You may even want to put a dimmer on the light (don't put a dimmer on the fan).

Depending on what is at the other end, that red wire could end up causing a fire or end up killing someone who comes to work on it next.

When I bought my current home I ordered a fan in the master bath, it was not required. When were were making our last inspection I asked the manager what the three switched did and asked if one might be a light in the bath. One I knew turned on the fan. The others did not seem to do anything. With out a hesitation, he said one operated a light in the attic and one a light for the back yard. He went on to day I did no pay for a fan-light combination so it could not be a light switch.
There is no light in the attic and neither switch activated any outdoor light. They one was terminated at the fan the other was wired to the light socket in the fan housing, all it needed was a lamp. The other line was there if I wanted to add a heater. At least the electricians were up on things.
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Joseph Meehan

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Typically, the red wire goes to a switch to power the fan motor (that way, you can control the lights and the fan separately). If your builder did the job right, you have a duplex box (one big enough for two switches) with the cover having one switch and one blank (with the expectation that if you install a fan, you also install the switch). The red wire should go from the switch box to the outlet box, and most likely is just unconnected at either end at the moment. Capping never hurts, but it shouldn't be necessary.
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I'm guessing the red wire is not connected at the switch end. I tried to use it as the hot source for the light, but it didn't work. Only the black wire worked.
I will check the switch end and make sure that the red wire isn't connected. I'll probably cap it too, just to be safe.
What about the green ground screw on the light frame? Currently nothing is connected to it. There was one bare copper ground wire coming from the outlet box. I connected it to the ground wire in the lamp.
wrote:

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I'd run a grounded pigtail over to frame ground screw (anything metallic that even has the slightest chance of being accidentally energized really needs to be grounded -- better a blown breaker than a dead body). You may have to use a slightly larger wirenut to connect all three conductors (the incoming ground, the pigtail, and the lamp ground wire) together.
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When you say a grounded pigtail is that just a bare piece of copper wire that I'd connect to the green ground screw?
So what I'm picturing is I connect this grounded pigtail, the ground from the lamp, and the ground from the source all together with a wire nut. Then I connect the grounded pigtail to the green ground screw. Is that right?
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Exactly.
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Excellent. Thanks so much for your help.
wrote:

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The ground wire in the lamp should do the job. If I understand what you are saying the lamp then fastens to the frame with screws and it will then be grounded too.
wrote:

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The red is likely a spare that runs to the switch box so that you'd have a seperate wire to work a light independent of the fan. Did you check to find the other end?
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The red wire is for the fan. Didn't you kinda know that? Yes, the red wire should be capped. If you turned the fan switch on, and the red wire were near a ground, and it sparked, and if that spark hit something easily inflamable... Sure, that is just about impossible, but the red wire should be capped to prevent it.
Your ceiling fixture should have a green wire that attaches to the green screw in the box. The odds of it mattering are really small, but it should be done properly.
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The red wire is for the fan. Didn't you kinda know that? Yes, the red wire should be capped. If you turned the fan switch on, and the red wire were near a ground, and it sparked, and if that spark hit something easily inflamable... Sure, that is just about impossible, but the red wire should be capped to prevent it.
Your ceiling fixture should have a green wire that attaches to the green screw in the box. The odds of it mattering are really small, but it should be done properly.
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