I'm installing a ceiling fan and I currently have an outlet with a switch. Currently, the outlet box has three cables--circuit coming in, the switch loop and the circuit that continues on. The outlet is pigtailed to the white wires (all nutted together) and connected to the red wire from the switch loop; the black wires are nutted together as are the grounds. In the switch box, there is the loop to the outlet as well as another cable that continues on to a different branch of the circuit. The loop switch is routed through the attic above where the fan will go.

My plan is to delete the red wire of the switch loop from the outlet and directly wire the outlet to the existing circuit (pigtail to black), then run the 3-wire from the outlet box to the fan and wire up the fan just like the outlet was. This will leave a superfluous red wire between the outlet and the fan.

Now my questions: Have I missed something? Is is kosher to leave the red wire of the current switch loop not attached to anything? Must I yank that section of the 3-wire and run 2-wire in its place?

It's been a long time since I've done household wiring so I may have misused some terms. Let me know if clarification is needed. Thanks!

1 Answer 1


You can just cap off each end of the unused red wire; there's no code issue with leaving it in place (see Q1/A1 here). If you later change your mind or want to have the switch also control the outlet/something else, you'll be glad you didn't remove it.

The rest of your plan looks reasonable, though if I understand it correctly -- you're intercepting the run between the outlet and the switch, which runs through the attic, to install your fan? -- the logistics of splicing in the box for your fan might be tricky. Though, since you're already up in the attic, you could pull a new 4-wire between the switch and the ceiling fan box; that'd also give you the option to install a fan with a separately-switched light fixture.

  • That, feeding the fan from the light switch with /3 (4 wire) or /4 (5 wire) cable, is the thing to do right there. That way indeed you have total flexibility to put in a more sophisticated switch that can switch fan, light and even fan speeds in some fan/switch combos. Wire is cheap compared to the cost of fitting it. May 12, 2017 at 1:49
  • Excellent. Thanks for the 4-wire idea. I hadn't thought of that, but that's exactly what I'll do. Very much appreciated.
    – jMcG
    May 12, 2017 at 13:21

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