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Ceiling Fan Installation

First fan? You might consider consulting an electrician. I am a general contractor with over thirty-five years experience in construction and I still consult with the pros first. This is not a dig at the average guy or an endorsement for electricians. Simply put, anytime you’re dealing with electricity, there is the chance for damage to you, your home, the fixture, or all the above.

This in mind, tip number one is caution. Even pros make mistakes. Tip number two is, choose your ceiling fan wisely. First, collect all the necessary data regarding your fan. This requires that you first select the room and the location in that room for the fan. Remember, ALL ceiling fans hang down from the finished ceiling. This means that your ceiling height is critical. In rare cases the fan may be less effective if the ceiling is too high, but most homes have the opposite problem.

Standard ceiling finish is generally eight feet. Even if you and your whole family are not particularly tall, it is likely a guest will be. Calculate the height of your ceiling minus the dimension of the fan from the base (where it attaches) to the lowest point on the fan blade, or the lowest portion of the fixture. If your clearance (the number of feet left), is less than a standard doorway, an alternative site should be selected.

In choosing the fan location, remember that if there is no electrical fixture in this area, you will need to address electrical supply issues. Even if you are replacing an existing fixture, say a light with the fan, and your wiring issues are solved, you may still need to install backing (2x4’s or 2x6 bracing above the ceiling) to reinforce and stabilize the fan. The motion of any fan causes a wobbling effect if not properly secured. Often, a fan feels solidly attached until it begins to spin. Make sure your reinforcement above the fan (the backing) is placed wide enough to stabilize the fan base to prevent wobbles.

OK, you’ve consulted the pros, chosen your installation site, located a power source, installed necessary backing, and selected your fixture. There are still preparations to be made and obstacles to overcome. First, TURN OFF THE POWER! Second, you will be working overhead, possibly at considerable height. Use a sturdy ladder. A small scaffolding would be even better. Third, another pair of hands is not only useful but sometimes mandatory; it is very difficult to hold the fixture overhead while trying to secure it by one’s self. Not to mention, climbing up and down each time you need something or drop an item could be exhausting as well as time consuming.

Tip Four is: follow all instructions. Don’t take any short cuts or pass over steps listed, some assemblies require each stage be completed in order or you will have to disassemble things, incorporating the missing procedure before continuing. Fifth, make sure all connections are made to correctly corresponding power feed wires (don’t connect the hot wire to the ground wire). Make sure all connections are made with proper sized wire nuts. A wrap of tape over the wire nut can help prevent it from slipping and, thus, the wires from shorting and arcing. Six, when your fan looks like the picture on the box…take a minute, double check everything. Check all attachment points and all electrical connections. Make sure the fan blades are tightened down. Once you have checked it all, check it again! Don’t be in a rush to flip the breaker back on, but when you are ready, have someone waiting at the fan and another at the breaker box. If there’s a spark or smoke or a wobble or whatever, you’ll need to cut power quick.

Good luck, and be safe!

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