I want to update my ceiling fan. I uninstalled the old fan. It was controlled by 2 switches. One controlled the light, the other the fan. There are only 3 wires coming out of the ceiling. Black, white, and bare. However, the black wire has white tape on it, the white wire has black tape on it, and the bare ground also has white tape on it. The black wire with white tape was connected to the fan's white wire. The white wire with black tape was connected to the fan's black wire. The bare wire with white tape was connected to the fan's blue wire! The green ground wire from the fan was connected to the fan bracket.

I have a new fan/light with remote. I installed it according to the instructions, ignoring the tape, and using the actual wire color and connecting the bare wire to the fan's ground.

Nothing's working - no power. What to do next?

With some help from a friend, I think we have it sorted out:


old wiring


new wiring

  • Post a picture of the box with the switches. If you can, do not disconnect the switches but just unscrew them and pull them out. Post a picture and we can help you rewire the mess you inherited.
    – diceless
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 4:33
  • I added pictures. The switches are on different walls. The top picture controls the light, the bottom is for the fan. The other flip switches in the boxes control a hall light (top) and an outdoor light (bottom).
    – Danielle
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 4:55
  • Do you have a multimeter or voltmeter? After installing the new fixture, did you turn on the switch(es)?
    – Tester101
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 10:02
  • 1
    I would disconnect the fan and cap the wires in the box and then call an electrician. Something really fishy is going on and trying to figure this out over the internet will be very difficult. Right now, if you turned on the light and then touched the fan's metal body you would electrocute yourself.
    – diceless
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 15:42
  • 1
    Danielle, someone before you dangerously wired up ceiling fan. From the pictures of the switches, it is not obvious what they did and another splice is somewhere else. What is the most concerning is the use of the ground wire to carry a live electrical current and you currently have that attached to the metal housing of the fan.
    – diceless
    Commented Apr 29, 2015 at 17:58

1 Answer 1


I had some help from a friend and I think I have the mess worked out.

correct wiring

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