Just moved to new house 2 months ago. Bedroom ceiling fan/light fixture doesn't have any chains and did not have a remote with it. I have 2 wall switches, one turns the entire unit on/off and the other does nothing that I can tell. One switch on the fan unit with only function of switching blade direction. Aside from unscrewing the light bulbs anytime I want the fan on to sleep, or buy a remote, is there a way to control off/on function of fan seperatly from lights (not worried about adjusting the speed of the fan, just want to turn it off or on at current speed).

I assume I will eventually need an electrician or new fan/remote however those aren't options for me financially for at least 3more weeks. Seeing as to how it's a bit cold outside, I'd like to use my lights without needing to throw on a few extra layers every time or worse, walk in, flip the light switch to see where I'm gong and be instantly annoyed with the cold air and fact that I can't seem to fix the problem.

There are no brand symbols or names on the fan/light unit that I can see from below. have not seen ANY marks whatsoever but will add a comment if I figure out the brand of ceiling fan I'm dealing with. Most likely Hampton bay or the other "h" brand the commonly excludes pull chains on their ceiling units. And unit is 6yrs old or less (house is only about 6yrs old).

Is there a solution that doesn't involve dragging this on til I can replace the unit or remote?

  • On this site poster complained his fan (or was it the light) would only come on if he flipped the switch 2, 3 times and wanted to know what was wrong. One comment or answer from a habitually very reliable commentor was that some fan/light combos actually work that way. What I got from this answer/comment was that starting with both off flip the switch on and get light only; flip it in quick succession (starting off) on-off-on or on-off-on-off-on and the fan and light come on. I don't know how one would get fan on and light off, and this may not apply to you, but you may want to pursue this. – Jim Stewart Mar 2 '17 at 12:43
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    Can you post photos of the inside of the switch box? – ThreePhaseEel Mar 2 '17 at 12:44
  • Until you figure this out you can remove the fan blades for a short term solution. – Platinum Goose Mar 2 '17 at 21:15

Check the wiring of the fan (after taking the regular safety precaution of turning off the breaker and double checking that the wires aren't hot), chances are that there are 3 connections (besides ground): neutral, lamp and fan. It's very likely that lamp and fan are jumpered together.

To disable the fan entirely you can then simply remove the jumper and connect the switched live to only the lamp.

To fix it properly you can remove the jumper and connect a separate switched live wire from the second switch to the fan. If that isn't in place you will need to run that extra wire which can be difficult depending on access from above.

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1: First I would search the entire fan unit for an opening about 1/4 - 3/8 inch in diameter. Your pull switch may have broken off and fell inside. Simple solution would be to replace that pull switch. You did not post pictures of it or mention make / model so hard to say.

2: You said "I have 2 wall switches, one turns the entire unit on/off and the other does nothing that I can tell" - The other does something , try checking your outlets first to see if it turns on an outlet.

If the switch turns on an outlet - then at least you know the fan / light kit might be missing a pull switch. If the light kit does not have a pull at all - buy a new light kit or as below.

I also have a remotely operated fan - which does not have any pull switches - although I am sure I can add one - the fan probably had one available but it was not purchased. If you have a android phone look for a mobile app for controlling Fans. You might be surprised to find one. Otherwise you might need to purchase a remote from the manufacturer or buy a universal remote - $20-$30.


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Take it apart and look for manufacturer marks

That would tell you if there's a wireless remote you can simply buy/eBay for it.

I'm not a big fan of wireless remotes; they are cheap and break; you lose them; and they are low-class.

Check out the situation with the "mystery switch"

In newer construction, builders often have a light switch operate receptacles, and don't have an overhead light at all. This is a shortcut taken by cheap builders to save $12 by not installing an overhead light. However in this case, they did not attempt to save the $12, and having both overhead and receptacle would be odd.

In fact, a fan/light begs for 2 separate switches, so Occam's Razor says that would be what a deluxe builder was going for. It's likely that the builder provided all the necessary switches and wiring up to the fan, and the dumb homeowner who retrofitted this fan failed to use them, possibly because he was blindly following dumbed-down instructions. Happens all the time.

Anyway, with careful research, you might be able to get separate fan/light control for the cost of a screwdriver and a couple of wire nuts.

Get a special module

This is what invadernoob is referring to. They make special modules designed to install above the fan, that allow you to run a simple circuit to the fan, and control fan and light separately, one of two ways:

  • the module comes with a wireless remote.
  • the module listens to the light switch: if you quickly throw the light switch off and back on, it changes modes.

Cheap fans are cheap

There's not a small chance this fan-light is a piece o'junk. There are a lot of really terrible fans sold for low price at the big-box stores, it's shameful. It may be better to simply replace the whole unit.

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A possible simple solution - without trying to run down a wire or circuit is to purchase a fan/light remote from Home Depot or Lowes for about $30. Follow their instructions closely (ALWAYS remember to turn off the breaker/fuse at the panel before working on wiring)! The way this works is that if there are a few wires in the fan that meet the instructions you can use the remote to separately control the fan and light.

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