How-To Videos

How to Fix a Paddle Ceiling Fan Light Switch

By: Danny Lipford
Disconnecting the wires to a ceiling fan light switch.

Disconnecting the wires to a ceiling fan light switch.

If the lights on your paddle ceiling fan no longer work, the culprit is usually the pull chain light switch mounted on the bottom of the fan. Here’s how to go about testing and replacing the switch.

To determine if the pull chain switch is defective:

  1. Turn off the power to the fan at the circuit breaker.
  2. Remove the cover plate on the bottom of the fan.
  3. Disconnect the wires coming from the switch to the lights.
  4. Make sure the wires are not touching anything, then turn the power back on at the breaker.
  5. Check the switch wires with a voltage tester to see if power is coming from the switch to the lights.
  6. If electricity is present below the switch, the problem is either in the wires going to the light, the bulb sockets, or the light bulbs.
  7. If electricity is not present below the switch, turn the power to the fan back off.
  8. Disconnect the wires coming into the switch from the fan.
  9. Make sure the wires are not touching anything, then turn the power back on at the breaker.
  10. Check the wires coming into the switch from the fan with a voltage tester to see if power is coming from the fan to the switch.
  11. If electricity is not coming from the fan to the switch, the problem is with the fan wiring rather than the switch.
  12. If electricity is coming from the fan to the switch, the problem is with the pull chain switch.
  13. If the switch is the problem, remove the switch, replace it with a new switch, reattach the wires, turn the power back on, and pull the chain on the switch to see if the lights work.

Watch this video to find out more.

Further Information

Video Transcript


Danny Lipford: Recently a homeowner asked me if their ceiling fan light kit could be repaired without replacing the whole thing. If the fan still works well, it’s worth looking into the light kit.

If there are no loose wires visible, the culprit is likely a faulty pull chain switch. To check, turn off the power at the breaker box, and disconnect the wires coming from the switch to the lights. Be sure that the wires are not touching anything before you turn the power back on, and test the wires with a voltmeter.

If no voltage is present, turn the power back off, and disconnect the wires coming into the switch from the fan. Again, be sure no wires are touching anything before turning on the power to test them with the meter.

If voltage is present above the switch, but not below it, then the switch is bad. A replacement pull chain switch is only a few dollars and should screw into exactly the same location as the old one.

With the power off, connect one side of the switch to the wires coming in from the fan, and the other side to the wires feeding the lights.


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3 Comments on “How to Fix a Paddle Ceiling Fan Light Switch”

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  • john wagener Says:
    April 26th, 2019 at 6:14 pm

    I bought new fan switch for ceiling light/fan. New switch has four terminals, old switch has five wires (red, white, black, green and violet. Do I attach two wires to one terminal and ,if so, which two and which terminal?


  • Official Comment:


    Thomas Boni Says:
    April 24th, 2019 at 11:58 am

    Hi, Janet!
    First, use a non-contact electrical tester (available for $10 at the home center) to determine whether there’s an electrical connection to the switch.
    If there’s not, cut off all electricity to the room and open the switch plate to check for wiring.
    When it comes to no discernable function for a switch, the possibilities are endless. For instance, many home builders routinely add a lighted ceiling fan in certain rooms. But sometimes, they install the switch but not the fan, and there will forever be a switch without a purpose.
    If you really want to know the answer, it’s best to hire an electrician to check it out.
    Good luck!



  • Janet Says:
    April 15th, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    We just bought a house a year ago, and there are some switches that we don’t know what they go to. In one room, we have two switches that we think may have at one time gone to the ceiling fan/light fixture. How can we find out, and if they did but don’t work anymore, is there a simple solution, or is this a tear up the wall and ceiling kind of a job?


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How to Fix a Paddle Ceiling Fan Light Switch