I have and older home built in the early 60s. All rooms were wired with switch operated outlets. I installed a ceiling fan in a room yesterday and the following is now happening. When the switch is turned on the breaker trips. Thinking that the breaker was now overloaded ( there is one other room on this breaker and 2 hall lights) I reversed my connections back to the original switch operated outlet. I then tried the switch again and the breaker tripped again.

I really have no idea what could be causing this as the room has never had an issue with breakers tripping before I disconnected the outlet and attempted to hook the fan to it.

The outlet has the following connections:

  • a group of black wires with a pigtail going to the outlet
  • A group of white wires with a pigtail going to the outlet
  • And one red wire going to the bottom of the outlet

Any suggestions on what to do next would be greatly appreciated.

Update- Upon looking at the outlet again it was wired incorrectly when I reverted back to the original setup. I have corrected that issue but am still getting a breaker trip when the light switch is switched to the on position. I have inspected the wire in the outlet box and all look to be intact with no nicks to the wire shielding that I could see.

  • 4
    It's more likely that you made a mistake in wiring the ceiling fan causing a short rather than an overload. Jan 6, 2020 at 13:53
  • I reversed everything back to the original wiring without the ceiling fan though. Now the breaker trips when the switch is activated for the room
    – Will
    Jan 6, 2020 at 14:02
  • 2
    Photos might help us spot any issues.
    – isherwood
    Jan 6, 2020 at 14:05
  • 1
    Thinking you put it back the way it was and actually putting it back the way it was are likely different, based on the fact that it did not used to trip and now it does. When a problem shows up right after you have changed the wiring, it's almost always the wiring you just did. Switch loops with white wires that are not re-marked are a common error when someone who thinks all white wires are neutrals gets into them.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 6, 2020 at 14:57
  • It,s not at the outlet, you messed up the fan install. The outlet would do it too, but I think it's in the switch box. Jan 6, 2020 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


If I am reading the question right:

  • You tapped the switched supply of a half-switched receptacle to power a ceiling fan.

  • When your turned the breaker back on and turned the on the switch, the breaker tripped. (There had not been any such problem before you started.)

  • You then tried to put the wiring back the way it was before you started - as you put it, "reversed" your work - but the breaker still trips when you turn on the switch.

Obviously, you didn't put the wiring back quite the way it was before you started; something changed. These are just guesses.

Since the breaker trips when you close the switch, it's likely the problem is with the red wire, the switched hot.

  • You may have put the box together so that a ground wire is touching a switched hot terminal - the one with the red wire on it. Try wrapping the receptacle with tape so the terminals are not exposed, and carefully fold the bare ground wires to the back of the box.

  • There may be a nick in the insulation of the red wire that's coming in contact with a ground somewhere - inspect the red wire carefully.

  • Maybe you miswired the receptacle with the red wire on the neutral side, so when switched on, it makes a dead short. (Presumes the tab on the neutral side of the receptacles is not removed.)

  • Correct, the tab on the neutral is not removed.
    – Will
    Jan 6, 2020 at 15:04

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