So I have a ceiling fan in my office that is connect to a switchplte (With 2 switches). One for the fan and one for the light.

I noticed turning on the fan switch the light flickered for a second and then the fan stopped working....however the light still turns on/off.

How likely is it that the fan motor died, or can a switch go back on just 1 of the switches? Or are they actually likely separate switches?


Without a photo I am guessing that the switches are stacked in a single gang box in this case there are 2 witches on 1 yoke, of side by side they would be in a double gang box and be 2 separate switches. It is possible the switch or the wire connection failed, I usually check by spinning the fan and turning the switch on if it keeps going it is usually the fan start capacitor that has failed.

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  • Sorry I guess I should've described it better. it's 2 switches side by side. – msmith1114 Sep 20 '18 at 14:05
  • Single switches are inexpensive. I would try the spin test if the switch has failed I usually put in a 20 amp switch they will last longer as the fan in rush current can be above a 15 amp non motor rated switch. – Ed Beal Sep 20 '18 at 14:29
  • I was just about to ask 15 vs 20 amp. My house is 17 years old...so does it matter if my wires/etc... in the house are mostly 15 amp? IE: Will 20 amp work? – msmith1114 Sep 20 '18 at 16:47
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    Most inexpensive switches are 15 amp but using a heavier 20 amp rated switch will last longer with a motor load, fans are low draw devices but on startup they pull 3-5x the current compared to once at speed. A 20 amp switch will fit in the same location and has larger contacts so they end up lasting longer. – Ed Beal Sep 20 '18 at 16:53
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    Yes they are a standard size and will fit, some are slightly wider but will in the same space. – Ed Beal Sep 20 '18 at 17:59

Switches cost a dollar. So that definitely lends itself to "throwing parts at the problem and see what happens".

Watch out for switches with more than 2 screws (not counting the ground screw). Those need special attention, get photos and ask for help.

Also this is a good time to watch out for "back stab" wire connections, where the wire disappears into a tiny hole in the back of the switch. These cause intermittent connections like you describe. Better to shape the wire into a tiny J-hook and shape it around the side screw and tighten it.

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