How to Replace a 3-Speed Ceiling Fan Chain Pull Switch

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Ceiling fans quietly work all year long. Moving warm air upward in the summer or downward in the winter, they help maintain comfortable temperatures at the occupant-level of buildings. Fans are usually long-lived and reliable, but eventually they will break down. Perhaps the blades will begin wobbling or the motor will start making noise. Or maybe the pull chain switch will become faulty or just quit working. In many instances it is less hassle--and costs less--to simply repair the fan than to replace it. Replacing a chain pull switch is one repair most people can perform quite easily.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Voltage sensor
  • Pen or marker
  • Wire cutters
  • Pliers
  • Wire strippers
  • Replacement switch
  • Turn off the circuit that supplies power to the fan.

  • Remove the screws that hold the bottom cap on the switch housing. If the fan has a light kit, remove the light kit (which is usually in the place the bottom cap would be).

  • Hold the voltage sensor within half an inch of the wires that go into the pull chain switch. If the sensor lights up, stop. Do not continue until the power is completely off to the switch.

  • Label each wire that enters the fan switch using a pen or marker.

  • Cut the wires away from the old switch. Make the cuts as close to the switch as possible.

  • Unscrew the retaining nut that holds the switch in place. This nut will be on the outside of the switch housing where the pull chain attaches to the switch.

  • Bring the switch to the store and buy one that is identical.

  • Strip three-fourths of an inch of insulation from the wires you disconnected from the old switch.

  • Attach the wires to the new switch in the same order that they were attached to the old switch. Loosen the screws on the back of the switch, wrap each wire clockwise around its corresponding screw, and re-tighten the screws. If the switch has wires extending from it, twist each wire to its matching wire and thread a wire nut on each connection. Wrap electrical tape around the wire nuts and wires.

  • Attach the new switch inside the housing by sliding the chain and attached bolt through the hole and threading the supplied nut onto the bolt.

  • Replace the bottom cap or light kit.

  • Turn on the circuit breaker.

Tips & Warnings

  • When labeling the wires that go to the switch, start at the wire closest to the pull chain and label them numerically in a clockwise direction.
  • Be sure to buy an identical switch since wiring a switch that is different could result in a fire or shock hazard.

References

  • “Wiring 101;” Jodie Carter; 2006
  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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