Ceiling fans can cool a room in the summer or keep warm air close to the floor in the winter. Most are designed to accept a light fixture and there are many options to choose from in home improvement stores.
Hanging a ceiling fan properly can be challenging because of the electrical connections involved, and the considerable weight of the assembly. The process is made twice as hard if you attempt to do it alone as it is difficult to juggle a heavy fan motor while up on a ladder trying to connect electrical wires with wire nuts. It is strongly recommended that you follow the installation procedures below with an assistant helping you with the task.
Before beginning the installation, go the circuit breaker panel and turn off the power to the room you where the fan will ultimately reside.
For this discussion, we will assume that you are replacing an existing ceiling fan.
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Before You Begin
- Ceiling fan
- Outlet box
- Wire nuts
- Black electrical tape
- Sliding or telescoping support bracket
- Battery Powered Drill with screwdriver bit (optional)
- Phillips and Flat head screwdriver
Removing the Old Fixture
- If you are replacing an old fan, remove the hardware that holds it in place against the ceiling.
- Remove the wire nuts and any electrical tape that is connected. Disconnect the ground wire.
- Remove the fan from the hanger and lower to the ground with an assistant.
Preparing a Solid Ceiling Support
If the hole in the ceiling is located next to a ceiling joist, you can use a type of ceiling fan approved box to mount it directly to the side of the joist, either with nails or screws. Make sure the box is attached firmly to the joist because it will be supporting the weight of the fan. Use 16p nails and screws up possible on all sides of the box. If you are concerned about the weight of a particularly large type of fan, use one of the following methods that employ an adjustable brace that span two joists.
There are two types of adjustable brackets for mounting a ceiling fan between ceiling joists. One requires that you go into your attic to secure the brace, the other does not.
Access to the Ceiling
- When you have access to a ceiling joist, go into the attic with a sliding bracket and rest it on the drywall ceiling and screw the ends into each joist.
- Hang the box on the nut that slides along the adjustable track and lock the box in place in the ceiling opening.
No Access to the Ceiling
- If you do not have access to the ceiling joists in the attic, remove the electrical box in the ceiling
- Pass a telescoping support bracket through the empty hole in the ceiling and position the bar perpendicular to the ceiling joists.
- Turn the bar so that the ends of the bracket will bite into the joists.
- Mount the electrical fan rated box on the bar using the U-bolts supplied with the bracket.
Attaching the Face Plate and Assembling the Fan
The ceiling plate mounts directly to the outlet box.
- Pull the electrical wires through the hole in the ceiling plate.
- Screw the plate in with the screws that came with it.
- The fan can now be hung from the ceiling plate as you connect the wires.
Ceiling fans are mounted either close to the ceiling, or with an extension pole to position it closer to the floor if it is being placed in a room with vaulted ceilings or ceilings up really high.
Typically any new fan you purchase will have options to install it either way. I small 6 to 12 inch extension rod is normally included with the fan, however, if the distance needed is much greater than that, you can buy an additional extension rod in whatever length you need to get it closer to the floor.
- Thread the fan wires through the canopy and the extension rod if you are using one.
- Hang the fan assembly from the hook located on the ceiling plate temporarily.
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Connecting the Wires
- Wire the connections together while the fan assembly hangs from the ceiling plate. This will prevent you from having to hold the fan on your shoulder while you try to wire nuts together with one hand. If you are uncomfortable with this, get someone to hold the fan motor while you wire the pieces together.
- Connect the white supply wire to the white fan wire with a wire nut. Wrap the outer part in black electrical tape to hold the nut in place.
- Connect the black supply wire to the black fan wire. If there is a second black wire for a light, connect all three black wires together with a larger wire nut. Wrap the entire nut with black electrical tape.
- Connect the ground wires.
Mounting the Ceiling Fan
Now you are ready for the final assembly. Before you go any further, it is a good idea to turn the breaker back on at the box, and verify that the connections are correct by flipping the light switch to see if the light works. Do not turn the fan on however, because it may shake loose from the hook it is hanging from on the ceiling plate.
However, if you do this, do not forget to turn the breaker off again.
If you are comfortable with your electrical skills, this test is unnecessary. The wiring aspect of a ceiling fan is really easy to do.
- Slide the canopy with the fan motor attached over the ceiling plate and tighten the mounting screws that came with the fan and ceiling plate.
- Assemble the fan blades to the brackets, then screw or snap them in place.
- If applicable, insert the appropriate number of light bulbs, then attach the light fixture to the bottom of the fan.
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Installing a ceiling fan is not a difficult job and can be done alone. Just be careful to hang the fan motor on the hook from the ceiling plate while you wire the connections. If you are at all uncomfortable with working with electricity, then you should hire a professional to do the entire job.
However, I will say that it is one of easiest jobs that involve electricity that can be done in a home and if you take the proper precautions, you should not have any issues.