Installing a Ceiling Fan

You may be a do it yourself (DIY) expert, having installed countless ceiling fans in numerous homes, both yours and those of various family and friends. However, even though you have the basics down, every DIYer knows: there is always another trick out there to make the process a little easier. So although the following is not an exact step-by-step guide to installing a ceiling fan, this should give you a few hints to make the process a breeze!

When buying, remember that not all fans were created alike. In addition to price and style, some other factors to consider when buying your fan are:

Motor: more inexpensive fans often have an outer covering of thin metal, which increases the likelihood of rattles, clicks, hums, or buzzes during operation. Since many fans are installed in bedrooms, this can become an important consideration

Blades: Blade pitch can determine how effectively air is moved an optimum pitch is 14 degrees. Also ensure that blades are balanced to avoid wobble.

Lighting: As in any other lighting situation, keep in mind lighting that is appropriate to the room size and function.

Room size: Not surprisingly, fans and rooms both vary in size. Make sure they vary accordingly in your house! Fans usually come in seven sizes, ranging from 32" to 56" blade spans. Come to the store armed with room measurements and speak with a lighting representative.

Mounting: For best results, fan blades need to be a minimum of seven feet above the floor, and have 12" clearance below the ceiling. For lower ceilings, choose a close or low-ceiling mount fan. With higher ceilings, you can purchase a standard or angled mount with an extension down rod.

Bonus! For maximum effect, purchase a reversible fan that helps cool you in the summer and pushes warm air down from the ceiling in the winter to keep you comfortable year round.

Make a list and check it twice. At the most basic level, you will need:

    the ceiling fan/light kit
    wire strippers
    a circuit tester
    step ladder

If you need to replace the ceiling box, you will also need a new ceiling box, a hammer, and a drywall saw. Run through the installation process in your mind before actually picking up a tool to ensure that you have all the necessary components. Nothing is more frustrating than being stuck on a step ladder, holding up the ceiling fan, and realizing the tool you need is tucked away in the toolbox in the basement!

Inventory the fan as you unpack. As you take the fan out of its box, give yourself plenty of room to inventory the multitude of pieces and parts. Then lay the parts out in order of installation. This way, you will be confident that you have all the parts before you start, and you will be able to move smoothly from one step to the next.

Turn off the electricity! You already know this, but it is always worth mentioning. Turn off power to the light's circuit breaker or fuse. Ensure the circuit is truly dead by checking with a high-voltage neon tester. If you are working at night, a flashlight might be handy at this point.

Mounting the box

Always use a metal junction box, not plastic. Another item to keep in mind when mounting the box is that there are several ways to mount it, depending on whether the box is next to a joist, in-between joists, or being mounted on a beamed ceiling.

If no fixture was in the room previously, find the center of the room by snapping chalk lines diagonally between opposite corners. Also, the mounting must be able to withstand vibration, as even the most balanced fans cause some level of vibration when running.


This step varies from one manufacturer to the next. Pay close attention to the specific instruction for your fan brand and style. However, keep in mind that if there is less than a screwdrivers length between the blade and the ceiling, it might be easier to install the blades before hanging the fan. When you are finished, again check all screws for tightness.

Hang fan for wiring. Install the hanger hook or attach the ceiling plate to the fan box, whichever is appropriate for your fan model. If attaching a hanger bracket, but sure to use a lock washer, which will help prevent the fan vibration from loosening screws in the future.

Wiring the fan

To facilitate the wiring process, swag kits can make installation easier than ever. To improve ease of use once the fan is installed, you can also wire the ceiling fan through a fan speed control. Always electrically ground the fan to both the metal box and itself, using the grounding wires (typically either green or bare copper).

Let there be light

Install the light kit and controls you have chosen. This step typically varies according to individual models. However, in general the wires are provided with plug-in connectors. Be sure to tighten everything securely. Install the globe(s) and the light bulb(s).

Troubleshooting wobbles

Fan wobbles can range in severity from a minor irritation to a seriously hazardous situation. If you notice your fan wobbling, the first step is to take off the blades and examine them. Look for bent or misshapen blades.

If you do not see any obvious deformities, weigh them to determine if one is lighter or heavier than the rest. If one is underweight, affix a soft object such as an eraser to the middle on the top and see if that resolves the problem. For wobbles that are still unexplained, fan balancing kits with detailed instructions are also available.

You are finished! Pat yourself on the back and enjoy the delightful breeze from your new ceiling fan.