If I am installing a ceiling fan w/lights to an old house with only 2 wires coming out of the ceiling a hot (black) and white (neutral) is it necessary to connect the green ground wires from the fan to anything or can I just tape those off and call it good or do I need to put a cooper wire in. I only see 2 clothes wires that come from the ceiling there is not a box. I know the blue and black wires from the fan are connected to the black from the ceiling and white to white.

  • What are "clothes wires"; is the box metal or plastic? – ChiefTwoPencils Feb 15 '15 at 21:44
  • 1
    There is not a box is your bigger issue. A fan needs to be attached to a special, heavy duty box, and all electrical connections need to take place within a box. Anything else is a recipe for disaster. – bib Feb 16 '15 at 1:15
  • There is no box. I wired everything in the casing between the ceiling and the fan. – Jonathan Karr Feb 17 '15 at 21:23
  • Older cloth NM cable rarely had a ground. For a short while, late 50's-60's some had a small ~16ga ground which was typically wrapped back on the cable, but this did not provide a grounding conductor for the circuit. – Speedy Petey – Mazura Feb 18 '15 at 2:59

First order of business: install an old work ceiling fan box!

(The linked box is the first one that turned up on Google -- there are several makes and models of old work ceiling fan boxes available, all of the basic design depicted.)

Right now, not only are you violating NEC section 300.15,

Boxes, Conduit Bodies, or Fittings - Where Required. A box shall be installed at each outlet and switch point for concealed knob-and-tube wiring.

Fittings and connectors shall be used only with the specific wiring methods for which they are designed and listed.

Where the wiring method is conduit, tubing, Type AC cable, Type MC cable, Type MI cable, nonmetallic-sheathed cable, or other cables, a box or conduit body shall be installed at each conductor splice point, outlet point, switch point, junction point, termination point, or pull point, unless otherwise permitted in 300.15(A) through (L).

including the exceptions in (B),

Equipment. An integral junction box or wiring compartment as part of approved equipment shall be permitted in lieu of a box.


Integral Enclosure. A wiring device with integral enclosure identified for the use, having brackets that securely fasten the device to walls or ceilings of conventional on-site frame construction, for use with nonmetallic-sheathed cable, shall be permitted in lieu of a box or conduit body.

and (H),

Insulated Devices. As permitted in 334.40(B), a box or conduit body shall not be required for insulated devices supplied by nonmetallic-sheathed cable.

you have created a very nice falling ceiling fan trap! Ceiling fans are heavy and require solid anchorage to two ceiling joists, or at least the solid-enough anchorage provided by a properly installed ceiling fan box. Furthermore, without a box, an overheating or arcing splice can proceed to directly light your ceiling on fire!

Once you rectify the lack of a suitable box to mount the fan to, you can then wire black&blue to black, white to white, and leave the bare (or green) wire from the fan unhooked (or terminated to the green screw in the box if you're uncomfortable leaving a wire end floating -- it makes no difference electrically in your case, but may be preferable for mechanical reasons).

| improve this answer | |
  • I'm renting this place so I knew nothing about the codes but I will be sure to let the landlord know – Jonathan Karr Feb 19 '15 at 12:26

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.