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Repairing Appliances & Other Devices

I received an email from someone looking for help in putting a vintage fan back together. A synopsis of the email is:

I have a vintage ceiling fan, 3-speeds and light. I cannot find any support for this fan from. I do not have any paper work or the owner’s manual. The fan worked perfectly. However, the pull chain light switch failed. I mistakenly took apart the speed switch wiring. I don't know which wires connect to where. It has: 3 wire reverse switch - red, green, brown; 3 wire capacitor - black, pink/orange, grey; 2 wire light switch - white, black; 6 wire fan switch - 2 green, white, black, blue, brown. Can you help?

This is a very common problem that most home handymen have faced at least once.

Before taking any electrical or electronic device or appliance apart it is crucial that you are confident that you will be able to put it back together again.

When you first open any device the assembly will look like it makes sense. The positioning of screws, brackets and electrical connections all seem to be very simplistic, until you try to put it back together again.

To avoid the problems associated with reassembling any appliance or other device I suggest that you:

  1. Make sure that you have a manual that gives the complete details of how the appliance or device is assembled, or
  2. Note: Often owner’s manuals do not provide detailed assembly drawings. They are operational manuals rather than repair manuals.

  3. Take numerous pictures of the assembly before you take it apart, or
  4. Make a sketch of the assembly identifying wire or harness colors, bracket positions, or
  5. Label wires and parts using masking tape.

Note: Manufacturers go to great lengths to engineer their products with the minimum amount of parts and components possible. Every screw and bracket is there because it is necessary. If it was not necessary the manufacture would not have spent the money to include it. When reassembling any appliance or other device replace all of the hardware that you took out!