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Install & Replace

Install a ceiling fan with knob and tube wiring

Hi all,


I am somewhat new to improvement projects, so i don't have a lot of experience...

I am trying to install a ceiling fan in the breakfast room where there had previously been a light fixture. The house is old (120 years) and has lots of knob and tube wiring in addition to some updated wiring. After taking the old fixture out, I saw two wires coming out of the ceiling (no electrical box). The insulation on the wires was fraying, so I put heat shrink on the copper wires so there is no exposed copper - except at the end. I got a metal junction box and had to cut an oval type opening in order to fit both wires into the box. the junctionbox is still rigid so this does not seem like a problem. However, I did not use the clamp that came with the box - do I need to do that? It is a pretty tight fit so I don't know how I can use the clamp. I certainly cannot fit the clamp on the two wires.Luckily, there is a solid joist right where the wires come from the ceiling, so I will not need a fan brace - the fan can be supported by attaching into the joist. 


A couple of other questions:

1. The two wires coming out of the box are the same. How do I tell which is hot? I've heard that it doesn't matter, but I thought it did matter if you have a light on the fan.

2. Do I need to trim the tubes coming into the electrical box so they are not as deep into the junction box?

3. I've got a ground wire for the fan and one for the box. but no ground with the wiring. Do I just connect the green wires on the fan and the box to each other?

4. The wires on the Hunter fan are long - I guess for long downrods. Should I trim them or just shove all of the extra length back into the junction box in the ceiling?


Thanks for your help!


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Posted 2011-07-09T17:05:20+0000  by bjmeriwe bjmeriwe

Hey bjmeriwe.


My biggest concern is the fact that the insulation on the wiring is breaking down. Even though you heat shrinked the ends, the rest of the wires insulation can become exposed, causing a potential for huge safety issues. I recommend hiring a licensed electrician, for I am all about doing it yourself, but for this project I would turn it over to a professional.

Posted 2011-07-10T14:38:05+0000  by Ingar_HD_ATL
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