I had a load bearing wall removed, to make a long story short, I forgot to take pictures of the wiring and now I’m stuck in a jam.

Had a ceiling fan that was fed from a 3way switch but there was only one switch. Power source was coming into the switch box, then 3 way wire was used to feed the ceiling fan and 2 other wall outlets all from the ceiling fan box. Where it gets confusing is that the hot (black) and common (white) fed power directly to the outlets (wall plugs) and the red wire was tied to the white and black wires of the light fixture.

My problem is that I can’t remember the wiring inside the switch box where the power source connects to the switch and the 3 way wire. Any help here would be beyond appreciated. Thanks folks.

  • Sorry my explanation was not very clear. I did confirm it was a 3 way switch because there was a black nut and red wire going into it switch from the 3 wire. I can say 100% the common wires and hot wires (feeding the wall outlets) were tied together within the fixture box but the red was tied to the black and white wires of the light fixture it self. Was I seeing things or is this a possible wiring outcome. Really regret not taking pictures of it before pulling it apart.
    – Gabe Marko
    Nov 20, 2019 at 3:31
  • Thank you for viewing it and trying to help Isherwood! 👍🏻
    – Gabe Marko
    Nov 20, 2019 at 3:32
  • I'm still not clear. Please use the edit feature to revise your question. Don't expect folks to read through our discussion down here to understand. It might make sense to list the wires in each box in a simpler manner, then mention which you believe to have been connected. Please take the tour if you're not familiar with Stack Exchange sites.
    – isherwood
    Nov 20, 2019 at 3:35
  • Can you post photos of the current situation inside all boxes involved please? Nov 20, 2019 at 5:26

1 Answer 1


You are calling it 3-way switch wiring. Actually, it is simply 3-wire wiring and has nothing to do with 3-way switches. This type of wire is used in all cases 3 conductors +ground are needed.

3-way switches just happen to be one of them.

In this case, the cable is carrying 3 wires besides ground:

  • Neutral, white (needed by supply, fan and onward circuits)
  • Always-hot (needed by supply, switch and onward circuits)
  • Switched-hot (needed by switch and fan)

The preferred color code, where available, is black for always-hot and red for switched-hot.

I prefer to re-mark wires with tape to color code them. By luck, all the cables already have the preferred colors. If it were me, I would remark the hot wire on the fan with red tape, then fit a red and black pigtail on the two switch terminals. Then it becomes a simple matter of matching up color to color!

Pigtailing the red on the switch may seem a little silly, but it's easy to grasp.

One more thing. Since 2011, anytime you wire a switch where the power comes into the lamp, you must use that 3-wire cable. Red and black for the switch. White is reserved for neutral for future smart switches.

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