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I was planning to replace an existing ceiling fan. The photo shows the current wiring situation after removing the old ceiling fan. The Neutral wire is alone, I’ve pulled it off to the side and taped it for now. The Hot wire, well, there are 3 wires. 2 of them seem to be going through a small black square clamp, the third is wrapped around the clamp and 2 clamped wires. Then, near the end, is a wire coil with just 1 wire coming out the other end. I have never seen anything like this and am unsure what to think of it. The old fan was connected Neutral from the fan to Neutral and then Hot and Blue from the fan to this contraption of apparently hot.

Do I need to make changes to how this is setup before installing the new ceiling fan? If so, what would be recommended?


  • Is there a switch involved? That single white is likely a return from an old-style switch leg, and not a neutral. – Tyson Jul 29 '18 at 15:49
  • Yes, there is a switch. These wires are not new. Yes, the wires in question are hot wires. In the photo they are the three wires bundled together. – D Turner Jul 29 '18 at 16:16
  • It appears there is a black bundle with a red wirenut in the back of the box, that’s hot, the white bundle with an uninsulated wire nut is neutral, and the single white is the hot return from the switch. Test that and see if I’m correct. – Tyson Jul 29 '18 at 16:20
  • Okay I will test them to see. That sounds logical to me. What seems confusing then is that the white wire from the fan was connected to the single wire. The black wire and blue wire from the fan were connected to the bundle of wires. Nothing from the fan was connected to the wire with the red nut. Does that sound like the correct way to hang the new fan? – D Turner Jul 29 '18 at 16:36
  • Almost. Except backward. And that’s confused by the fact WHITE is not neutral but switched hot. Test it for voltage with the switch on and off. If it’s switched hot, mark it black with tape or solid sharpie stripe, then connect blue and black of the fan to that wire. And white from the fan to the white bundle. There is an alternative also if you only want the switch to control the light, and control the fan by pullchain. – Tyson Jul 29 '18 at 16:43

You should replace the uninsulated wire nut on the bundle of neutrals with a new wire nut. When you have those wires separated use some electrical tape (preferably white) to restore the insulation on the white wires where the conductor is exposed too far from the end.

I didn't follow your description of the situation with the hot wires.

  • There is only one neutral. It seems fine. It is pulled out of the way. The bundle is hot wires. – D Turner Jul 29 '18 at 15:48
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    @JimStewart see my comment above and see if you agree. If you do then plz talk him through testing it.. I don’t have time to write the long version of an answer – Tyson Jul 29 '18 at 16:26
  • If the bundle is hot wires, they very unexpectedly and improperly have the white insulation. Worse, the wire nut on the bundle is not insulated. It could easily come in contact with the metal box. What testing equipment are you using to determine which wires are hot? – Jim Stewart Jul 29 '18 at 16:40
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    Okay, thank you! You are all correct. The single wire is the hot wire. I’m still a little concerned because the fan that was previously installed did work. And apparently had the wires connected backwards. I obviously don’t know enough about electricity to know what that means but it seems odd. I will do as you stated and clean up that bundle of three wires, putting on a new wire nut. and then I will connect the white wire from the fan to there. And will also mark the single wire with sharpie as suggested. Thank you everyone! – D Turner Jul 29 '18 at 18:02
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    Wired backwards it will still work, it’s better to wire as intended however. The last person made the mistake because of the wire color—when they found something that worked they stopped. – Tyson Jul 29 '18 at 19:15

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