How to Properly Install a Ceiling Fan
You don’t have to be an expert to correctly install your ceiling fan. By following our straightforward, step-by-step instructions, filled with professional tips, you will have a successful installation and a secure fan. There are no benefits to be had if your fan detaches from the ceiling, starts a fire from bad wiring, or ends up with an annoying wobble or shake.
Advantages of Installing a Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fans are decorative and can significantly reduce your energy cost during the warm months. They can also be utilized during the winter to take the heated air which accumulates near the ceiling and spread it out over the room.
If you’re ready to receive the benefits from utilizing a ceiling fan, here’s a set of practical ceiling fan installation procedures. You will also need the manufacturer’s instructions.
Install a Ceiling Fan - Items
A fan rated box made from metal can typically be purchased from hardware and electrical supply stores. The box as well as the support system has to be strong enough to support the moving weight of the fan. If your fan weighs more than 35 pounds it will need reinforcement.
When you install a ceiling fan, don’t use the existing light fixture box, even if it is constructed from metal. It simply won’t support the weight of the fan. A ceiling fan kit is ideal. It typically includes the fan box, the bracket and the U-bolt.
Other items for the ceiling fan installation project:
- Wire nuts
- Adjustable wrench
- A hacksaw or other type of saw that is capable of cutting through a metal brace
- A slotted and a Phillips screwdriver
- Expandable brace (typically included in a fan kit)
- Electrical tape
- U-bolt (typically included in a fan kit)
- Step ladder
- Safety goggles
- Dust Mask
Ceiling Fan Installation from Inside the Room
The safest approach is to turn off all the power in your home. You can also choose to turn off just the power to the light’s circuit breaker or fuse at the service panel. To be safe, turn on and off the wall switches and make sure the lights do not come on.
Remove the existing ceiling light and disconnect the wires. Don’t cut the wires, since you will likely need all the length that is available.
Take out the existing light fixture box. It will not be strong enough to support the fan. Before attempting to remove the existing box, loosen the clamps on the wiring and push the wires into the attic space.
To install ceiling fans, typically the existing support brace has to be removed in order to make room for the fan’s mounting bracket. Since the existing ceiling hole is small, it can be somewhat difficult to remove the existing brace, which is usually attached to adjacent joists (rafters). You can try cutting it in the middle with a hack-saw and bend the two pieces out of the way or yank both parts loose. If you have access to the attic, it’s much easier to remove it from above the ceiling.
Installing the New Bracket
Before you attach the new bracket, become familiar with the simple movements of the device. This will pay off, after you place it through the small ceiling opening and it’s out of view.
When you initially install it, check to see if it’s at the correct height before you make it snug. The proper height will allow the fan box opening to be at the same level as the outside surface of the ceiling.
Install the new expandable bracket between two ceiling joists. Horizontally position the adjustable end (it contains a screw), against one of the joists.
Apply hand pressure against the adjustable end to keep it positioned against the joist. By rotating the bracket counter clockwise by hand, the bracket will soon be up against both joists. Keep turning the bracket until you feel strong pressure. After the pressure builds and you can no longer rotate the brace you have an opportunity to let go and grab your adjustable wrench or pliers.
Continue rotating the bracket with your tool until it’s very tight; however don’t over tighten because the pressure can push the two joists apart which will damage the ceiling. The cleats located on the bracket ends will anchor the bracket to the joists, ensuring a proper ceiling fan installation.
Once the bracket is in place, attach the fan box to the bracket with a U-Bolt. Place the U-bolt over the bracket and then attach the box to it.
Note: If you decide to work from the attic while installing the ceiling fan, you may choose to install a 2×4 wooden brace between the joists you’re planning to use and attach the fan box to the new brace.
If the room has a beamed ceiling, a special beam mount is typically required.
Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The typical fan utilizes a two-pronged attachment with screws going through the fan blades and attaching to the flanges. Make sure the screws are tight; however, if they become too tight you can damage the threads and the fan blade material.
If the ceiling fan comes with a downrod follow the manufacturer’s instructions and avoid pulling on the electrical wires.
Make sure the fan blades will be at least seven feet above the floor after you install the ceiling fan.
Securing the Fan to the Box
If the hanger bracket provided by the fan manufacture did not come as a separate item, remove the bracket from the fan mounting cover (skirt). You don’t want to deal with the weight of the fan while installing the bracket to the box so install the mounting bracket first. It’s very important to use lock washers when attaching the bracket to the fan box. They prevent the vibration of the ceiling fan from loosening the screws.
Place the fan’s ball hanger or hook style hanger into the hanger bracket.
Ceiling Fan Installation Wiring
Use the manufacturer’s wiring instructions to properly connect the wires. Check to see if the tab, typically located in the bottom portion of the hanger bracket is securely set in the hanger ball’s groove. After the wiring is completed, attach the ceiling cover (skirt) and make sure it has a snug fit. When installing a ceiling fan, be sure to attach the electrical ground wires to the metal fan box as well as the fan.
If the new fan is not replacing an existing ceiling light or fan, new wiring will be required, including additional wiring in the walls. Putting the new wiring in place in accordance with electrical codes can be difficult. It’s typically best to have the new wiring installed by a professional.
Wobbling Ceiling Fan
If the fan has excessive wobbling, it may be due to the fan blades not being properly balanced. The first technique you can try is to simply switch two adjacent fan blades. If this procedure does not correct the problem, you will need to add weight to the end of one or more of the fan blades. You can purchase a fan balancing kit at a hardware store.
Install a Ceiling Fan with Light Kit
If the ceiling fan includes a light kit, it might already be installed and only inserting the light bulbs and attaching the globes is required. If the kit is not already installed, follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
Ceiling Fan Installation - Electrical Connections
The existing wall switch can be used to turn on the fan. If the wall switch will be used to turn on the new fan light kit, the switches to adjust the fan speed and lighting are built into the fan and are operated by pulling on the fan’s drop cords.
All the exposed wire, at the connections, need to be secured inside the wire nuts.
Check the requirements of your local electrical code as well as the National Electrical Code.
A neon tester can be used to make sure the power is off before you touch any wires or terminals.
If you need help with the wiring, call a professional.
If your fan wobbles or shakes, check out our guide on how to eliminate your ceiling fan’s wobble.