How to Wire a 3 Speed Fan Switch

Pheori Wiley

Ceiling fans come in all shapes, sizes and designs; they are a convenient and attractive addition to a home. Most of the time when a ceiling fan fails to operate the blame can be placed on a faulty or worn out three-speed switch.

The replacement of a three-speed pull chain switch is a very simple process that most any household handyman can accomplish in less than an hour with just a screwdriver and a few common household items.


If you are not comfortable working with electricity, or working on ladders, please seek qualified help for this project.

Prepare for the Replacement

  1. Turn off the power to the fan from the breaker. Turning off the wall switch only is a hazard because the wall switch could accidentally be turned back on while you are working with the fan.

  2. Remove the glass shades and light bulbs from the fixture, and place them in a safe location.

  3. Remove the chain extensions.

Remove the Light Kit (if installed)

  1. Remove the ornamental bell from the bottom of the light fixture if there is one.

  2. With your screwdriver, remove the three or four screws that hold the light fixture to the fan. If your light kit was not part of your fan's original design, the fixture may be entirely self contained; in this case remove the disk plate on the bottom of the light kit.

  3. Remove the nut that is holding the fixture to the small down rod that transports the wires, and the fixture casing will slide off the rod.

  4. Have a friend support the light unit while you work on the switch replacement. Do not let the light unit hang by its wires.

Remove the Damaged Switch

  1. Remove the three or four small screws that hold the decorative cover to the control housing.

  2. Test for voltage with a voltage tester; the system should be dead and have no voltage.

  3. Remove the small screw cap that holds the switch in place, and pull the wires out of the switch one by one.

  4. Make note of which wire connects to what terminal; you will need this information when you are ready to reinstall the new switch.

Replace the Switch

  1. Insert the appropriate wires into their corresponding terminals, and feed the small chain through the hole in the housing side.

  2. Reattach the small screw cap to the switch, and secure it back into place.

  3. Replace the decorative housing cover and carefully lift the light kit (if present) into place. Secure it either with the rod nut or with the four small screws.

  4. Replace the bottom cap if you removed it and the decorative bell piece if there is one.

Finishing Up

  1. Replace the chains, light bulbs, and glass shades you removed at the beginning, and make sure the switch is turned on.

  2. Return power to the fan; have someone watch while the power is turned on at the breaker.

  3. Test the three fan speeds to ensure that everything is in the correct wiring spots on the switch.