Ceiling Fan Installation

Ceiling fans are a great addition to any room. A slow fan speed in the winter will help move the warm air at the ceiling down into the living area. A more brisk speed in the summer helps your air conditioner seem more effective. Ceiling fans are fairly easy and safe to install. All you need is a basic knowledge of electricity and some basic tools. If you do not have your fan yet, Click here to buy it online!

Ceiling fans are available in two general configurations. The first is a fan-only configuration. This configuration is generally the most inexpensive and provides the advantages mentioned above. The second configuration includes a light fixture that hangs below the fan. Both configurations generally include a multi-speed fan with a pull chain. If you buy a single speed fan, special power switches are available to allow different fan speeds.

One word of advice: it doesn't pay to buy the cheapest ceiling fan available. The cheapest fans are sometimes unbalanced and tend to swing around. This makes your otherwise elegant addition look somewhat ridiculous and detracts from the overall appearance of the room. Spend the extra couple of bucks if you can afford to.

Ceiling fan installation

Ceiling fan installation

Level of Difficulty

Time Required:
 4 hours
 
 
Tools:
Screw driver
Electrician's pliers
Step ladder
Circuit tester
Materials:
Ceiling fan
Wire nuts
Electric box and hanger
Safety Precautions
Turn off electrical power first.
Follow ladder safeuty precaution.

Remove Existing Fixture

The first thing to do is to cut the electricity to the fixture that you are removing. The easiest way to do this is to turn the fixture on and (unless your breakers are well labeled) throw breakers until the fixture turns off. Remove the existing fixture and, supporting its weight, let it down from the ceiling.

Test for Power

When the fixture is hanging down, carefully remove the wire nuts from the wires. Before you touch the wires, you should use a tester to ensure that the circuit is indeed cold. If it is cold, go ahead and remove the wires from existing fixture. If it isn't, you should either revisit the procedure above, throw the main breaker for the house or call an electrician.

Remove old light fixture

Remove old light fixture

Disconnect wires

Disconnect wires

Test to ensure current is off

Test to ensure current is off

Examine the Existing Box

The box in the ceiling must be able to support the weight of the new fixture. Chances are that if it was a small fixture like the one shown in the pictures you will have to remove it and replace it with a stronger model. If you have access to the space above the room, go up there and examine the box. If the box is anchored to the rafters by four metal "legs", you're in good shape. If it is a simple box nailed to the rafter, you'll have to replace it.

There are two different scenarios for replacing the box. If you have access to the area above the ceiling, you can purchase a box like the one here or mount a piece of wood between the rafters and then affix a metal box to it. Both of these are shown in the pictures to the right. The box pictured at right is not the only solution, there are at least four different kinds of spreaders (the metal legs) that you might encounter. All of them work via the same principle. You spread the legs to fit between the rafters and then affix them using a screw or nail. Screws are recommended as they are les likely to disturb the drywall which normally hangs from the rafters. Whether or not you choose to hang the box from a piece of wood or use the prefabricated box, you'll also have to make sure that you position the box correctly. Make sure not to hang it too close to the ceiling or the box will protrude through the ceiling.

If you don't have access to the area above the ceiling then you will have to purchase a different kind of box. This kind of box uses a spreader that has a nut in the middle that turns and forces the spikes on the legs into the rafters. This kind of installation is trickier than the others but still fairly simple. When you have secured the legs against the rafters there is usually a U-bolt that goes over the legs from which the box hangs. Just as above, make sure that you hang the box flush with the ceiling or it will show and these boxes don't come in decorator patterns.

After the box is mounted in place, route the wires through the box (make sure you use a cable clamp to protect the cable where it comes into the box).

Junction box exposed

Junction box exposed

Ceiling box with hanger

Ceiling box with hanger

View from attic of reinforcement board used to secure junction box

View from attic of reinforcement board used to secure junction box

Hanging the Fan

If you purchased a fan that has a separate lighting kit, now is the time to install it. Follow the directions and make sure you make good electrical connections.

Hanging the fan is fairly easy. The method pictured here is not the only way that fan kits use to suspend the fan. Indeed, there are about half a dozen different ways that manufacturers use to suspend the fan. One of the more common ways is to suspend the fan from a piece of threaded rod that hangs from a piece of metal that mounts in the box. Either way, mount the hardware that the fan will hang from and tighten it up and route the electrical wires through the mounting hardware.

There are two ways to mount the fan: a flush mount or a hanging mount. If the fan you are hanging has a lighting kit and you are hanging the fan in a room that has an 8' ceiling then you should probably flush mount it. Most kits come with hardware for both types of installations but check on the box before you purchase the kit.

Next you should make the connections between the wires from the ceiling and the fan. After you make the necessary connections and before you finalize the installation you should test the connections to ensure that you have electricity to the fan. When this is complete, hang the fan from the mounting hardware and tighten up the screws.

Attaching bracket to junction box

Attaching bracket to junction box

Attaching screws for flush mount bracket

Attaching screws for flush mount bracket

Secure base to bracket

Secure base to bracket

Finish the Installation

After the fan unit is installed on the ceiling, assemble the fan blades using the manufacturers recommendation and mount them on the motor. Turn on the fan and check to make sure that it doesn't swing around. If it does then you should get a balancing kit. This works like balancing a tire and will prevent the fan from swinging around.

Assemble fan blades

Assemble fan blades

Mount blades to fan

Mount blades to fan