How to Install or Replace a Ceiling Fan

Having a ceiling fan in the most-used rooms of your home is a great way to stay cool while saving on your air conditioning bills. If you’re hoping to replace your outdated light fixtures and fans, rest assured that ceiling fan installation can definitely be a DIY project — as long as you feel comfortable with the task. In many cases, you can install a fan in just 10 simple steps. Follow these tips and tricks to make the installation process easier.

Directions for Replacing or Installing a Ceiling Fan

Time needed: About 30 minutes to 1 hour

Materials required: Safety glasses, work gloves, ladder, screwdriver, circuit tester/voltage reader, ceiling fan and light kit, wire nuts, light bulbs, ceiling fan electrical box (if needed), adjustable hanger bar (if needed), and a fan blade balancing kit (if needed)

  1. Turn off the power at the circuit panel. If you’re unsure which circuit the fan is on, turn off power to the whole house to ensure all the wires are dead.
  2. Climb a ladder up to the ceiling fan and unscrew the fixture base from the ceiling box with a screwdriver. Disconnect the wires and remove the fan with a second person to assist you.
  3. Test the exposed wires with a circuit tester or voltage reader to ensure they’re dead. Label which wire controls the fan and which wire controls the light (if applicable).
  4. Install the adjustable hanger bar found in the fan kit according to the manufacturer’s instructions. In general, this involves pushing the bar through the hole in the ceiling and expanding the bar until the sharp steel pins on each end dig into adjacent wood ceiling joists.
  5. Attach the old ceiling electrical box (or install a new one) to the hanger bar and lock it in place.
  6. Secure the new fan mounting bracket (or downrod for vaulted/angled ceilings) to the ceiling box according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  7. Assemble the fan components on the ground, using the manufacturer’s instructions as a careful guide. (Wait to attach the blades until the fan motor and housing are mounted to the ceiling.)
  8. Raise the fan to ceiling height, using a helper to support the assembly as you attach the wires with wire nuts. While wiring schemes differ slightly, you can expect to attach the fan’s black or colored and white wires to the matching wires in the ceiling box.
  9. Attach the fan to the ceiling box assembly with the screws included in the fan kit. Install the trim, blades and light bulbs (if applicable) to complete the installation.
  10. Restore power and test the ceiling fan. Balance any wobbly blades with an inexpensive balancing kit.

Safety Tips for Installing a Ceiling Fan

  • Wear safely glasses and work gloves to protect your eyes and hands during the installation.
  • Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for ceiling fan installation safety. If the instructions recommend professional installation, hire a knowledgeable electrician for the job.
  • If you have any doubts or questions during the installation, or your wiring doesn’t appear compatible, contact a licensed electrician.
  • If your old fan was hardwired, this means you could only turn it on and off by pulling the cords attached to the fan. You may want to wire the fan to a switch, or even two light switches, for more convenient control of the fan and light. To make this change to your electrical system, hire a qualified electrician.
  • Work with a helper. Ceiling fans are heavy and require you to balance on a ladder. An extra set of hands reduces the risk of falling and generally makes the installation process faster, safer, and easier.

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