How to Install a Ceiling Fan Tips

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Get tips and watch a video on how to install a ceiling fan.

Choosing a Fan

When buying a ceiling fan, remember that not all fans were created alike. In addition to price and style, other factors to consider when buying your fan are:

  • Motor: Inexpensive fans often have an outer covering of thin metal, which increases the likelihood of rattles, clicks, hums, or buzzes during operation.
  • Blades: Blade pitch can determine how effectively air is moved. An optimum pitch is 14 degrees. Also ensure that blades are balanced to avoid wobble.
  • Lighting: As in any other lighting situation, keep in mind lighting that is appropriate to the room’s size and function.
  • Room size: Make sure the fan size is appropriate for the size of the room. Fans usually come in seven sizes, ranging from 32″ to 56″ blade spans. Go to the store with room measurements and speak with a lighting representative.
  • Mounting: For best results, fan blades need to be a minimum of seven feet above the floor, and have 12 inches clearance below the ceiling. For lower ceilings, choose a close or low-ceiling mount fan. With higher ceilings, you can purchase a standard or angled mount with an extension down rod.

For maximum effect, purchase a reversible fan that helps cool you in the summer and pushes warm air down from the ceiling in the winter to keep you comfortable year round.

How To Install a Ceiling Fan

The first step in how to install a ceiling fan is to make sure you have all needed parts and tools. At the most basic, you need the ceiling fan/light kit, screwdrivers, wire strippers, a circuit tester, pliers, and step ladder. If you need to replace the ceiling box, you also need a new ceiling box, a hammer, and a drywall saw.

Go through the installation process in your mind before picking up a tool to ensure that you everything you need. Here are steps to take:

      1. Inventory all the parts of the fan as you unpack. Lay the parts out in order of installation to make sure you have all the parts.
      2. Turn off the electricity! Turn off power to the light’s circuit breaker or fuse. To ensure the circuit is truly off, check with a high-voltage neon tester.
      3. Mount the box. Always use a metal junction box, not plastic. You can mount the box in several ways, depending on whether it is next to a joist, in-between joists, or on a beamed ceiling. If the room previously did not have a fixture, find the center of the room by snapping chalk lines diagonally between opposite corners. Also, the mounting must be able to withstand vibration, as even the most balanced fans cause some vibration when running.
      4. Assemble. This step varies from one manufacturer to the next. Pay close attention to the specific instructions for your fan brand and style. However, keep in mind that if there is less than a screwdriver’s length between the blade and the ceiling, it might be easier to install the blades before hanging the fan. When you are finished, again check all screws for tightness.
      5. Hang fan for wiring. Install the hanger hook or attach the ceiling plate to the fan box, whichever is appropriate for your fan model. If attaching a hanger bracket, use a lock washer, which will help prevent the fan’s vibration from loosening screws.
      6. Wiring the fan. To facilitate the wiring process, swag kits can make installation easier than ever. To make the fan easier to use after installation, you can also wire the ceiling fan through a fan speed control. Always electrically ground the fan to both the metal box and itself, using the grounding wires (typically either green or bare copper).
      7. Install the light kit and controls. This step typically varies according to individual models. However, in general the wires are provided with plug-in connectors. Tighten everything securely. Install the globe(s) and the light bulb(s).

Troubleshooting Wobbles

Fan wobbles can range in severity from a minor irritation to a hazardous situation. If you notice your fan wobbling, the first step is to take off the blades and examine them. Look for bent or misshapen blades.

If you don’t see any obvious deformities, weigh them to determine if one is lighter or heavier than the rest. If one is underweight, affix a soft object such as an eraser to the middle on the top and see if that resolves the problem. For wobbles that are still unexplained, fan balancing kits with detailed instructions are available.

More on How to Install a Ceiling Fan.

Updated: November 10, 2012 — 1:37 am

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