I'm replacing my two ceiling fans (same circuit, single switch). I didn't pay attention to how the wires were connected in the first ceiling box, and now I need help.

I've identified the switch as being wired as a loop switch, as the white wire coming from the switch is marked with black tape. I've identified another cable as my Load (continuing to ceiling box #2), another cable coming from the power supply. There is another set of black and white wire coming from the same direction as the switch, and it also has a marked white wire. So, I have a total of four sets of wires coming into the ceiling box, but I only know what 3 are. Is the other set another circuit that's been wired as a loop switch as well? I'm so confused.p..

I've tried wiring the new ceiling fan assuming that the cable from the switch was a loop switch, and tested the second one containing the other marked white wire as if it was carrying load to an an outlet. Tried the breaker. I haven't tried anything else. I figured I'd see if I could get some advice here before trying anything else.

enter image description here

  • You seem to be all set regarding the two fans and their switch. The only question is what the extra cable is for. The answer is .... now that it's all taken apart, what else doesn't work? Get a lamp or a radio and go around plugging it into outlets to determine which one(s) don't work now. Try all the other lights in the house also. Don't forget outside and other floors. It could be anywhere.
    – jay613
    May 9 at 20:06
  • Don't place much importance on the direction the cable enters from the box. May 9 at 22:57

3 Answers 3


The other cable can be or probably is a receptacle.

find the dead receptacle(s) and you will know, Next do you want the receptacle(s) live all the time or switched? the white marked black is proof of a switch loop this white is connected to the black from the panel and the black coming back is your switched hot.

That extra the white will go to the white from the panel(neutrals are tied together)

The black on the extra cable goes to the switched black OR the hot from the panel.

This is a common wiring layout.

  • Thank you so much; this is very helpful. I confirmed that the fourth is to a dead receptacle, which I would like to always be hot. May 12 at 0:55

If a switch loop, white from switch connected to black from panel with wire nuts/connectors, place black tape on white wire both ends.

Black wire from switch to both fans black wire.

Whites from fans to white from panel.

Power is checked to be off at the right breaker and with a tester at the junction box.

Re-read your question, in your picture is the forth cable going to second fan or something else that is always hot?

  • An always hot receptacle. May 12 at 0:54

That is terrifying.

Yes, I have advice - get an electrician.

In general, your circuit should look like this:


simulate this circuit – Schematic created using CircuitLab

And for God's sake get some wire nuts.

  • 1
    We are about DIY calling an electrician on such a simple thing ? This is a switch loop and the white is hot by code in this case.
    – Ed Beal
    May 9 at 18:42
  • 1
    What is so terrifying? This is a normal circuit and your schematic is wrong.
    – JACK
    May 9 at 19:32
  • And to be technically correct, the AC hot black wire should be wirenutted to the white wire to the switch loop and the white wire marked with black tape and paint. This way, the switched hot returning to the loads is black.
    – DoxyLover
    May 10 at 5:37
  • One might safely presume that the lack of wire nuts is because the photo was taken mid project. I find it highly unlikely that this was the state the wiring was in when the OP moved in.
    – FreeMan
    May 10 at 17:22

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