Story time:

I'm trying to put a new fan in my bedroom where previously there was only a light-fixture. When I take off the light fixture, the light is connected to a brown wire (instead of black) and two white wires twisted together. There is no evident ground wire.

As I start looking closer, I see a bit of electrical tape. So I take the tape off. It appears to be 3 thick copper wires (I assume my missing ground wires) crimped together and cutoff just below the crimp. The electrical tape was covering the 'nub' that this crimping created.

My question is, how can I attach the fan's grounding wire to this setup? Can I just wrap the wire around one of the copper wires and wrap the thing in electrical tape?

Edit: Added Image:

groundwire crimping

  • 1
    A picture would improve this question.
    – Jay Bazuzi
    Commented Mar 5, 2011 at 19:40
  • 1
    added the picture Commented Mar 7, 2011 at 0:07
  • You can just wrap the ground around the bare wire.. it wont make any difference as long as it does not press against any bare live terminals.. its already bare.. so ..
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Jul 20, 2011 at 16:10

2 Answers 2


Thanks for the picture. I have dealt with this many times. It looks as though there is just enough slack in those ground wires to remove the copper crimp used there (forget what these are called) and add a ground wirenut. The ground wirenut's are green and have a hole in the top to allow a new or existing ground wire to continue out.

So in your case....

  1. remove the crimp with a pair of diagonal pliers
  2. get a peice of spare ground wire several inches long
  3. put the new piece in the top of the ground wire nut and push it in so it sticks to just about the base
  4. twist the wirenut to the existing three ground lines, tying all 4 grounds together (the 3 existing and the new one coming out the top)
  5. Connect the new ground line coming out the top of the wire nut to your fan

I feel your pain. See lots of hack jobs all the time. You didn't say exactly how long this nub was. Assuming it is too short to unravel and use a copper crimp band to reconstruct a longer ground conductor, Wrapping a new ground and taping isn't a great idea. This suggestion is very old fashioned, but would work. Solder the new ground extension wire to the nub of existing wires. This will make a good and solid connection. Of course, be absolutely sure to identify the conductors properly, never assume or guess. Be sure the nub in question is actually grounded so it will do the job you need. Good Luck.

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