Introduction: How to Install a Ceiling Fan

Picture of How to Install a Ceiling Fan

A ceiling fan can be an excellent addition to any room. It can work as a decorative focal point, to cool you off, or to keep hot air down with people in rooms with high ceilings. Ceiling fans really aren’t much more difficult to install than a light fixture, but there are some important differences. Here’s how you go about installing a ceiling fan.

Required tools

  • Screw driver
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Wire strippers
  • Linesmen pliers
  • Drywall saw
  • Fish tape*
  • Electrical tape

* Fish tape is only required if you are installing a fan where there is not already a power source

Required parts

  • Ceiling fan
  • Ceiling fan junction box*
  • Electrical wire**
  • Ceiling fan drop tube***
  • Electrical switches****
  • 2x4 block if mounting between joists

*Any light fixture junction box will work, but a patented ceiling fan junction box will come with all of the lag screws and bolts required to mount a ceiling fan.

**This is only required if there is not an existing power source. Follow local code standards for gauge and type of wire.

***A drop tube is not required, but it will not be included with your fan. If you are installing your fan to the ridge of a cathedral ceiling it will be needed to provide enough room for the blades of your fan. It may also be desired for fans on exceptionally high ceilings.

****Switches are not required if you are installing your fan on a power source that already has a switch or if your fan will be operated by pull chains. Fans with remotes can have specific switch requirements. Read the manual to your fan and be sure that you have the appropriate switch.

Step 1: Rough in Power Source and Mount Junction Box

Picture of Rough in Power Source and Mount Junction Box

(Note: If you are mounting your fan where there is an existing light you will not need to rough in power, but you will most likely need to mount a new junction box. Can lights, track lighting, pendant lights, fluorescent lights, and most other ceiling lights will not be mounted with a junction box capable of supporting a ceiling fan.)

(Important safety: Be sure that the power is turned off to any wires you are working near. If you are mounting a fan where there is an existing light, you will need to disconnect the wires from the light and will be working near them to mount the box. Failure to turn off the power can result in serious injury or death)

(Tip: Most fans are designed to operate from a single power source, but some fans will need separate power supplies for the fan and an attached light. Be certain which your fan requires before roughing in wires. Using 12/3 or 14/3 wire instead of 12/2 or 14/2 will allow you to run two power sources if needed without pulling two separate wires)

1a: Determine the location of your fan and cut a hole in the ceiling with a drywall saw. Begin with a hole just large enough for the junction box. If you are not located directly under the ridge board or a joist, you will need to expand the hole in both directions until you hit a joist unless you have access to an attic directly above. In this case, follow step 1b*. If you are directly under a joist, follow step 1b**

1b*: If your fan is being mounted between joists you will need to install the appropriate support for the fan. At least 1 ½” thick lumber is required to support the fan. Measure the distance between the joists (it should be around 14 ½”) and cut a piece of 2x4 to fit tightly between the joists directly above your fan.

Attach the 2x4 to the joists with framing nails so that it is the thickness of your junction box away from the finished surface of your ceiling. (The junction box should be flush or just behind the finished surface of your ceiling when it is attached to the 2x4). If you have access to an attic above the fan you can mount this support from the attic to avoid having to repair the ceiling.)

1b** If your fan is directly below a joist notch out enough, but no more of the joist than required for the junction box to sit flush or just behind the finished surface of your ceiling when screwed to the joist.

1c: Mount the junction box with the lag screws provided. The carriage bolts on a ceiling fan box will be used to attach the fan. The threaded ends of these bolts should be facing down. If you are using a regular junction box, be sure to use #10 or larger lag screws to mount the box.

1d: (This step is not required for fans with existing power sources. Simply pull the wires into the junction box and secure them with an approved connector.) If your fan is located where there is not an existing power source, you will need to pull wires from the nearest power source to your fan.

Carefully plot a route for your wires that will pass from that power source through any necessary switches and to the fan. (You can wire your fan with a switch loop if it is simpler to bring the power to the fan before the switch.) Try to avoid running through studs or joists if at all possible.

This can require you to remove drywall to drill through the stud. Cut a hole in the wall just large enough for a remodeling switch box at the location of your switch. These boxes will allow you to install the switch without having to repair any drywall. Pull the appropriate wire through the wall with a fish tape from the power source (make sure the power source is turned off at the breaker while working near it) to the switch and from the switch to the fan remembering to leave at least a foot of wire sticking out of the wall and ceiling. Install the switch box and secure the wires inside the junction with approved connectors.

1e: Repair any holes in the wall or ceiling that will not be covered by the fan or switch.

Step 2: Prepare and Assemble Your New Fan

Picture of Prepare and Assemble Your New Fan

Remove your new fan from the box and arrange the parts in an accessible and organized manner. Familiarize yourself with all of the parts and how they will be assembled. You will need to assemble the drop tube, canopy, and motor housing correctly before mounting and wiring your fan.

(Tip: It is much easier to attach the blades to the motor after the fan is mounted, but you may want to assemble the blades and mounting brackets at this time to avoid loosing parts.)

Step 3: Attach the Ceiling Mounting Bracket to the Junction Box

Make sure that the mounting bracket is adequately secured before you lift the fan towards the ceiling

Step 4: Wiring Your Fan

Picture of Wiring Your Fan

(Make sure the power is off before you begin wiring)

Most ceiling mounting brackets are equipped with a hook to hang the fan from while you wire it. If yours is not, make sure you have some other way to hold the fan in place. The wiring for most fans is relatively straight forward, but fans with remote receivers can be rather complex. These fans will come with a wiring schematic in the instruction manual. Follow the schematic exactly.

Step 5: Mount and Attach the Blades to the Motor

Picture of Mount and Attach the Blades to the Motor

After the fan is wired, mount it to the mounting bracket with the methods recommended for your fan. Connect all trim covers and attach the blades to the motor with the screws and brackets provided. If your fan is equipped with a light, wire and attach the light at this time

Step 6: Check the Fan Function and Make Necessary Adjustments

Picture of Check the Fan Function and Make Necessary Adjustments

Once the fan is completely installed, turn the power back on. Check the fans function. If you hear a crackle or a hum coming from the fan or switch, shut the power off immediately and check your wiring for loose connections. Once the wiring is correct, check the fan for smooth operation. Most fans come equipped with a balancing kit. Use this kit to make any adjustments needed for your fan to operate smoothly. After you are satisfied with your fans operation, clean up

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Bio: Hello, My name's Clifton and I am 29 years old and a qualified Electrician in the Honea Path, South Carolina.
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