I'm replacing old ceiling fan with new one. I'm ashamed to say it but I took it apart THINKING I could put it back. The box in ceiling has 3 white and 3 black and grounds BUT it had one black tied to whites and one white to blacks. I thought no prob. I'll tie blacks together and whites together, hook up fan wires and I'm done. Nah. I did that turned power on and black bundle was hot white was not so I hook the fan up turn it on and when u turn switch on it kicks the breaker. Any suggestions? Thanks

  • 1
    Turn the breaker off, turn the switch on, and then check to see which pair of whites has continuity with blacks? (Make sure other light fixtures on the circuit are turned off when you do this) Mar 8, 2023 at 2:57
  • not all whites are the same
    – Traveler
    Mar 8, 2023 at 3:46
  • do you have a ground in the box? That can make it easier to decrypt.
    – dandavis
    Mar 8, 2023 at 6:13
  • There are lots of questions like this on DIYSE. The strategy is nearly always the same--find the switch loop(s).
    – isherwood
    Mar 8, 2023 at 14:39

1 Answer 1


With the breaker off, all the wires separated, and the switch on, use your multimeter find out which black/white pair has a close to 0-ohms continuity measurement.

If you find 2 (or more) pairs with some continuity, pick the pair with the lowest reading and then turn the switch off. The same pair should now read open-circuit (no continuity). This is your switch loop.

If turning the switch off does not make this pair read open-circuit, then try another pair. You've found the switch loop when turning the switch on & off makes the continuity reading flip between close to 0-ohms and open-circuit.

Take that switch loop pair and wrap some colored electrical tape around the white wire, because it is not Neutral!, it is being repurposed as Hot, so it must be marked as such.

Now take the other 2 black wires and this one marked white wire, and wire-nut the 3 of them together. Push this bundle out of the way because you're not going to need it again.

You should now be left with 2 white wires and one black wire (the one paired with the marked white wire).

Take the 2 white wires and the white wire from your ceiling fan and wire-nut them together. Push that bundle out the way because we're done with it.

Take the last remaining wire (the single black wire from the switch loop), and wire-nut it to your ceiling fan's black (and/or blue) wire(s).

Connect all the bare and/or green Ground wires together.

Make sure the switch is off, and then turn the breaker back on. You should expect to see & hear nothing, and the breaker should stay on.

Turn the switch on.

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