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I recently purchased a ceiling fan thinking it would be a fun DIY project but when I went to install it, I came across many problems. I have attached a photo of my ceiling fan socket on the ceiling below.

http://i.stack.imgur.com/O4NF0.jpg

It appears as if there are 4 wires (fan only calls for 3) and not only that, but 3 of the 4 are jammed up into the left hole. If you look, the red wire is the only one free, the yellow black and grey are jammed up into the left hole. I have tried tugging on the jammed wires and they seem to budge an inch at max. I am afraid that if I pull too much I will break the wires and then I would be in a really bad position. Is there a way for me to unscrew the whole wall plate to see what is going on with the wires? I am confidant that I can install the fan once I get all the wires unstuck and have the leads exposed. I have a multimeter handy to measure voltage if necessary. I live in the U.S. and this house was built 25 or so years ago (this socket's wiring hasn't been touched since then).

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I have a couple of observations and concerns. First, it looks like this is a shallow box with conduit or EMT connectors. The looping conductors are usually a sign of continuous run THHN. I also suspect this could be a 3-way switched circuit or the yellow is being used as grounding/bonding conductor. However testing must be done to confirm these suspicions.

The other concern I have is the ability of this box to support the weight and torque of a fan. Depending on how strong the mounting is, you may want to consider a weight rated fan mounting box. If the box is not securely mounted, your fan will be unbalanced and wobble, at worse, it will pull the box out of the ceiling and drop. Perhaps they don't show in your pic, but I don't see any screws mounting the box to a framing member. If it is secured in place by the conduit only or a flimsy side ear mount, it will not work well for a fan. Check it out carefully. Good Luck.

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Does that screw in the middle go into a joist or ceiling member? If so, that might be sufficient for support. –  Rory Alsop Feb 20 '12 at 12:15
    
I think it screws into the socket directly. I think I might have to hire somebody on this one. Thanks for the advice. –  user99545 Feb 21 '12 at 2:02
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Pulling will get you nowhere, I suspect - those wires are not just stuffed up there, they are actually going through this box on their way elsewhere.

The red one that is loose - was that capped or anything? Or was it just hanging out?

Was there ever any kind of fixture on this box (I'm gonna guess no).

Also, could the 'grey' actually be white? And might the yellow be green? There's enough over-spray that I'm betting it's hard to be sure. Black/white/green/red would at least be a sensible set of wire colors (though the red hanging loose wouldn't make sense).

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It had a yellow twisty cap on it. There was no fixture on it either. I got a brighter light and it seems as if that wire is defiantly the colors I mentioned. The red could be orange though. I am as confused as you are with the coloring... I am going to get a tool I have to trace wires and see if it is linked to other sockets. –  user99545 Feb 19 '12 at 22:10
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