There are some home renovation tasks that should be left to professionals, like rewiring electrical work or installing new underground plumbing. But there are other projects that are more than manageable for homeowners, projects that, with a bit of research and time, can easily be done so homeowners can save themselves hundreds or thousands of dollars in costs. Installing a ceiling fan is one of those types of projects, which is relatively simple when approached the right way.
Get the Right-Sized Fan
A general rule of thumb is the bigger the room, the bigger the fan. This is so you can keep perspective and proportion in whatever room you’re working in, as a tiny fan will be dwarfed in a large room, and a large fan will overwhelm a small room. What you want to do is measure the longest wall and use that as your guideline. If the number you end up with is less than 12 feet, then you need a fan that’s 36” in diameter. Upgrade to a 42” inch fan if your longest wall is between 12 and 15 feet, and if you go over 15 feet, then you’ll need a 52” fan.
Just to throw a bit more math at you, the size of the room has an impact in how you place the fan, too (just ask any tall person who’s ever bumped their head in door frames and on objects that hang from low ceilings). It should be at least 7 feet from the floor, with a ceiling clearance of at least 10”. And for safety reasons, make sure the blades are at least 18” away from the nearest walls, with 24” being a much more preferable distance away.
The Tools You’ll Need
Ceiling fan kit
Mounting bracket (if not included with the ceiling fan kit)
Safety glasses and dust mask
Portable vacuum cleaner or extendable vacuum cleaner
Installing a Ceiling Fan from an Existing Light Fixture
One of the key things to remember about ceiling fans is they’re heavy, and they need the right amount of support from the ceiling. If you’ve already got an existing light fixture, like a chandelier, you’re most likely good to go. First, remember to shut off the power that runs to the light and its switch, and cover the switch when you do so just as a precaution that it doesn’t get turned back on.
Once you’ve done that, take off the existing light fixture by disconnecting its wiring and removing its mount. From there, you should be able to see if the electrical box is attached to ceiling joust or support bracket. Because ceiling fans can be fairly heavy, you’ll want to make sure there’s as much support as needed so it doesn’t come crashing down on you, and you might have to install a support bracket to prevent this.
The great thing about modern ceiling fans is they almost always come with their own mounting bracket (if not, it’s easy to buy separately — just make sure it fits your fan’s weight specifications). Either way, it’ll come with manufacturing instructions that let you know just how the mounting bracket should be put on. You’ll also want to put in an extension rod to get the recommended drop from the ceiling (10”), which your ceiling fan kit should provide, along with the exact instructions as to how that specific product is best put in.
You’re almost at the end, and this step requires you to connect the fan motor wiring. First, place the fan motor right onto the ceiling bracket by putting the swivel ball into there, and then attach the fan motor wires to the house wiring. Although some houses or ceiling fan kits may differ in the wire colors used, generally, you’ll find black and white wires. Connect black to black (“hot”), and white to white (“neutral”). Sometimes, you may find a bare copper wire or green insulated wire, and that’s for you to attach to the existing ground wire so it can be connected to the electrical box. You may also have extra wires for a remote control to operate your fan without having to tug the string. If that’s the case, there’ll be manufacturer-specific instructions as to how you should connect it.
Now that you have the hardware and wiring in place, it’s time to attach the fan blades to get a proper ceiling fan out of your efforts. But before you do that, you’ll want to install the fan canopy that covers the ceiling box and mounting bracket. Once that’s done, put a blade mounting bracket onto each fan blade and attach the brackets onto the rotating bezels that are under the fan’s motor. Tighten everything carefully so there are no surprises when you use your ceiling fan later on, and repeat for as many fan blades as you have.
Put a Lighting Fixture in Place
You likely won’t be able to fit the exact lighting fixture you had installed before, especially if it was a large one. But some ceiling fans come with their own light fixtures, which is perfect because it’ll fit perfectly in terms of size and aesthetic. This part is one of the easiest of the whole project, as all you’ll have to do is put in the light bulb and affix the glass dome or decorative light shade over top of it.
Give the area around your ceiling fan a dusting and vacuuming, and then vacuum your floor as well. Finally, enjoy your brand new ceiling fan. You worked hard for it, and you’ll be reminded of your efforts and remodeling prowess every time you turned it on.