Installing a ceiling fan can be easy Lifestyles

Installing a ceiling fan can be easy Lifestyles

Installing a ceiling fan can be easy

Q • I am interested in lowering my energy costs by installing a ceiling fan in my living room. I already have an overhead light fixture in this room. Is this very hard to do?

Running a ceiling fan will certainly reduce your energy costs year round, and no, it is not very difficult to do. In fact, some of the major ceiling fan manufacturers, such as Hunter, now make a ceiling fan that can be assembled in only five minutes. An efficient ceiling fan can help to save money all year. In the summer, running your ceiling fan counterclockwise creates a downdraft that will make the room feel cooler and reduce your air conditioning costs by as much as 40 percent. In the winter, running your ceiling fan in a clockwise direction pulls the cooler air upward and disperses the warmer air that has risen to the top of the room. You will save as much as 10 percent on heating this room by recirculating the warm air. There are seven steps to installing a ceiling fan:

1. Choose the correct fan for your room.

2. Prepare the ceiling box.

3. Choose the correct mounting method.

4. Assemble the fan.

5. Hang the fan and canopy

6. Attach the blades and lights

7. Install the wall control

When you select your fan, look at the energy efficiency, the size of your fan proportional to the room’s size and what periodic maintenance needs to be performed on the fan. Better fans will have permanently lubricated sealed bearings that don’t require oil. Energy Star-rated fans will operate 10 percent more efficiently than similar fans. When selecting the size, you will need to consider the square feet of the room and the ceiling height and slope. If you have high ceilings, you will need to upsize the fan. If you have a low ceiling (8 feet or less) you will want to select a fan that can be flush mounted, but be advised that low fans do not move the air as well as fans that have at least 12 inches of clearance from the ceiling. Sloped ceilings require a fan that can be fitted with a longer down rod.

You mention that you have an existing light fixture, but that does not necessarily mean that the ceiling box is rated for a ceiling fan. An electrical box approved for a ceiling fan will be made of metal and have a sticker or working stamped confirming that it is rated for ceiling fan usage. If you don’t see this or if the box is plastic, it will need to be replaced. With the power shut off at the service panel, remove the fasteners and pry out the old box. You have to carefully cut away the drywall or plaster to remove the old box. You have several options to install a new box. If you have a joist in the middle of the hole for the box, you can attach a thin pancake box with wood screws to the joist. If the existing box has a multiple wires running in and out, you will need to install a ceiling fan-rated box that provides enough volume for the wires. If the joist is next to the box, you can use a side mount box that screws to the side of the joist. If the hole is located between two joists, use a Saf-T-Brace. Put the brace through the hole, letting the ends of the brace rest upon the ceiling. Then use an adjustable wrench to tighten the ends against the joists. If you are able to gain access from a space above the ceiling, you can secure a safety bar to both joists with wood screws.

Now it’s time to mount the fan. Your ceiling fan will come with a mounting plate that is tightened to the electrical box after you have threaded the wired through the center of the mounting plate.

You will notice rubber feet on the rear of the mounting plate. Make sure these are snug against the ceiling to prevent the fan from wobbling. Next, following the manufacturer’s instructions, assemble the down rod and canopy. Run the wires from your box through the canopy and down rod. Hang the canopy assembly from the temporary mounting system that comes with your fan. Connect the copper ground wire to the green wire. If you have only two wires, connect both the black lead for your fan’s motor and the blue or striped lead for your fan’s lights to the black wire from your electrical box. Connect the white lead from your ceiling fan to the white wire from your electrical box. If you have three wires (red, black, white) coming from your electrical box connect black to black, white to white and red to the blue or striped lead from your fan. The next step is to fasten your canopy assembly to the mounting plate. You’ll find this easier if you have a helper to support the weight of the motor while you secure the canopy to the mounting plate. Do not install the blades until after you have secured the canopy. Slide the trim ring up next to the ceiling and snap into place to cover mounting hardware. Finally, following the manufacturer’s instructions, attach the blades and light kit.

Our last step is to install the wall control. You have several choices for switching your fan and light. If you were replacing an existing ceiling fan, you may already have two separate on/off switches at the wall. One controls the fan and the other the light. You can leave this switch or upgrade it to a wall mounted speed control to further improve your energy savings. Just make sure that the dimmer you select is rated for ceiling fans. Using an ordinary dimmer switch will harm your fan’s motor. If you have only a single switch, replace the switch with a fan control that works with this wiring and allows you to independently operate the fan and the light.

Dave Foster is the store manager for the Home Depot in Brentwood.


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