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Installing a Ceiling Fan

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On a hot day, all you really need is a little breeze to keep you cool. Having a ceiling fan might be just what you need to beat the heat. If you need a ceiling fan in a particular room, read on to find out how to install one.

Preparation

Pick a ceiling fan

There are many varieties and styles, some with lights and some without. As some ceilings are lower than others, you'll need to make sure that you pick a fan that will give you enough clearance to safely walk under it.

Light fixtures/Junction boxes

If you already have a light fixture where your new fan is going to go, it will make your job a lot simpler. If you don't, you'll need to install a junction box at the center of the room (or in the spot where you'd like the fan).

Note: Use a metal junction box--a plastic one may not support the weight of a ceiling fan. Also, make sure you shut off the power before you do any electrical work.

TIP: You can determine the center of the ceiling by snapping diagonal chalk lines from the corners of the room. The center of the room is where they intersect.

Installing the Junction Box

  • Cut a hole in the ceiling that is large enough to slip the box into

  • If the hole is next to a joist, screw the box into place

  • If it's between two joists, install a two-by-four in between them and attach the junction box to that
You may be able to do some of this work from the attic, but if not, you'll need to make a larger hole in the ceiling. This will give you room to work.

Mounting the Fan

Before you start mounting your fan, make sure the power to the junction box is turned off at the circuit breaker.
  • If you're installing your fan at an already-installed light fixture, start by removing the old light fixture's mounting bolts and taking it down.

  • Disconnect it from the wires (you may need someone to hold up the light fixture for you while you do this).

  • Check the junction box once the fan is disconnected to make sure it's secure; the fan will need a strong anchor point.

  • Attach the mounting bracket (your fan should come with one) to the junction box, following the manufacturer's directions and making sure that all screws are tight so the fan doesn't wobble.

  • The mounting bracket should have a "working hook" to hang the fan while you take care of the wiring. If not, you'll need someone to hold it up for you.

  • Attach the wires (they are color-coded). There should be a power wire (black or blue), one neutral wire (white), and sometimes a grounding wire (green or a bare copper wire).

  • Connect the wires from the fan with the corresponding wires in the junction box. If there's isn't a grounding wire in the junction box, attach the fan's grounding wire directly to the junction box itself.

  • Use a wire nut to cover the black and white wires, making sure it's screwed securely into place.

  • Install the motor of the fan with the screws that came with it.

  • Turn the power back on to ensure a good connection, then turn the fan on (using both the wall switch and the fan's pull cord).

  • Turn the power off again and put the motor cover on once you know everything is running properly.

  • Install the fan blades and attach the fan to the motor. You may need help holding the fan in place while you screw it in.

  • Turn the power back on and make sure the fan doesn't wobble or make too much noise. If it does, you may need to push on the unit gently until it's hanging level (some fans come with a balancing kit to help you get it level).

  • When your fan is installed and level, all you'll need to do for a cool breeze is flip a switch.

Adam Mandelbaum  Posted by Adam Mandelbaum on January 7, 2013

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