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Old 05-13-2011, 12:00 AM   #1
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3 Ceiling fans


I have 3 ceiling fans (w/ lights) to install in 3 bedrooms, all w/ the exact same setup. They do not have a central light fixture, and are not prewired for a light fixture. The light switch in each room currently controls an outlet. I have access to the attic. I want to control the fan and lights separately.

What I'm hoping is that I'll post this and someone (who's qualified) will say, "what are you waiting for, just do it." I am notorious for taking too long and getting frustrated w/ projects (mainly because I don't do too many, so don't have the experience), so I wanted to post this here first before I try to tackle it.

Here's what I think needs to be done, step-by-step:
  1. Shut off power
  2. Open up the switch
  3. Disconnect the line running from switch to outlet (cap/tape it off)
  4. Enlarge the hole in the wall to allow for double gang box
  5. In the attic, bore a hole in top plate w/ 3/4" spade bit roughly above where switch is
  6. In center of room, cut out hole in ceiling for fan box (using template)
  7. Install brace for fan box
  8. Attach fan box to brace
  9. Thread 14/3 wire from room up into fan box hole, passing through fan box into the attic
  10. In attic, run wire to hole in top plate and fish down to switch
  11. Replace old switch w/ new switches (wire power to new switches)
  12. Replace old gang box with double-gang box
  13. Wire fan new switches (one hot to each switch)
  14. Attach new switches to double-gang box
  15. Wire fan (one hot to lights, one to fan)
  16. In attic, secure wire to joists using cable straps
  17. Mount fan
  18. Attach blades
  19. Put on switch wallplate
  20. Turn on power

A couple of questions:
  • What if the center of the room is on a joist? Are there fan boxes specifically for attaching directly to a joist?
  • What if the center of the room is only partially on a joist? Would the fan just have to be slightly off the center of the room, then?
  • Should I clear out any insulation around the area where the brace and fan box will be, or is it safe to keep it there?
  • Am I missing any steps? Are there some steps that need to be expanded? Are there some that are *gotchas*?

Thanks to anyone who takes the time to read this, and extra thanks to those who respond.

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Old 05-13-2011, 12:34 AM   #2
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Quote:
Thread 14/3 wire from room up into fan box hole, passing through fan box into the attic
that is presuming the circuit is a 15 amp circuit. If a 20 amp circuit, you must use #12 wire.

Quote:
11. Replace old switch w/ new switches (wire power to new switches)
12. Replace old gang box with double-gang box
wiring the switches before installing the boxes? reverse order

Quote:
In attic, secure wire to joists using cable straps
if this is near an scuttle hole, you must use runner boards on both sides of the cable to protect it.

21. balance fan

Quote:
What if the center of the room is on a joist? Are there fan boxes specifically for attaching directly to a joist?
yes. just make sure any box you use is "fan rated" so it will be rated to support the fan.

Quote:
What if the center of the room is only partially on a joist? Would the fan just have to be slightly off the center of the room, then?
there are some really odd boxes out there that will allow you center the fan even in this situation but realize, you won't be off more than a couple inches if you just move the fan over to the edge of the joist. Depending on how the room is laid out, it is usually not even notceable


it sounds like you the process understood well.

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Old 05-13-2011, 05:35 AM   #3
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Mechanically I do not see a problem with your plan with Nap's changes. Electrically I see 2 scenarios:

1. If the power feed is at the switch box, do not disconnect and tape the cable going to the switched receptacle or it will be dead. Instead disconnect from the switch and connect directly to the power feed.

2, Power is at the switched receptacle and you have only a switch loop at the existing switch. That means that you will have a hot feed at the switch but no neutral. Go to the switched receptacle , disconnect the white wire coming from the switch (that will be the switched hot coming from the switch). Connect it to the power feed neutral and connect the power feed hot back to the receptacle.
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Last edited by rjniles; 05-13-2011 at 07:51 AM. Reason: corrected my first sentance to add not
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Old 05-13-2011, 07:26 AM   #4
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I suspect your step 9 may be making things a bit harder than it needs to be. Rather than starting your wire by pushing or pulling through your ceiling box, I would start in the attic with the wire by first feeding to the switch, through the top plate. Once there, take the remaining wire to the ceiling box and cut to length. I see no reason to pull the entire length of wire through the ceiling box.
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Old 05-13-2011, 07:28 AM   #5
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I would add, be sure to purchase deep enough double gang boxes to meet fill requirements. I did this recently and in my case the existing wiring into the existing single gang box was a 14/2 and a 14/3 cable. In this situation, to add another 14/3 cable and have two switches requires a box that has at least (2+3+3+1+2+2)*2 = 26 cu. in.
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Old 05-13-2011, 01:57 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for your input.

nap - is there any way to tell if it's a 15 vs. 20 amp circuit other than by looking at the existing wire? Do I have to use runner boards if I thread the wire through holes in the joists, or only if I lay the wire overtop the joist?

rjniles - the only reason I said to tape off the outlet was because I figured replacing the outlet w/ the fan on the circuit would reduce the possibility of circuit overload. Would having both the outlet and ceiling fan be ok? That's probably something you can't tell w/o seeing what else is on the circuit, though.

And thanks for the info on how to convert from a switch loop to what I want. I meant to ask about that, but completely forgot.

oberkc - yeah, I wasn't thinking incredibly clearly when writing this. Thanks.

thadsaab - thanks for that info.

Also, I've been thinking about how the wiring of the switch would work. Would it just be the hot wire from power in a wirenut w/ the hot wires for each switch? And if so, what about rjniles suggestion about tying the outlet into the power source? Could I just add that hot wire into that same wirenut (4 hot wires in 1 wirenut)?
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
nap - is there any way to tell if it's a 15 vs. 20 amp circuit other than by looking at the existing wire? Do I have to use runner boards if I thread the wire through holes in the joists, or only if I lay the wire overtop the joist?
well , the first thing would be check the breaker of fuse size. Most people will presume it is correct for the current circuit and typically, that is acceptable. So, if it is a 15, you are good with the #14. If it's a 20, you must use #12. If it is a 20, I would look at the wire you have access to to be sure it is correct for the circuit as a double check.

to the running boards; they are to protect the wire from being walked on. If you bore holes, no running boards needed. I can't remember offhand house far away from a scuttle you have to be before the protection is not needed. Hopefully one of the resi guys that deals with that more commonly can jump in with the distance.
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:04 PM   #8
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rjniles - the only reason I said to tape off the outlet was because I figured replacing the outlet w/ the fan on the circuit would reduce the possibility of circuit overload. Would having both the outlet and ceiling fan be ok? That's probably something you can't tell w/o seeing what else is on the circuit, though.

There should be no problem having the fan and receptacle on the same circuit. As to whether you have a 15 amp (#14 wire) or 20 amp (#12 wire), look at the circuit breaker that opowes this circuit.



Also, I've been thinking about how the wiring of the switch would work. Would it just be the hot wire from power in a wirenut w/ the hot wires for each switch? And if so, what about rjniles suggestion about tying the outlet into the power source? Could I just add that hot wire into that same wirenut (4 hot wires in 1 wirenut)?

Yes 4 wires in one wire nut is fine.
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Old 05-13-2011, 02:11 PM   #9
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Are there rules on hole location/size on the ceiling joists? Since the fans will be in the middle of the room, I was planning on drilling holes in the middle of the joists, until I can run it parallel.
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Old 06-14-2011, 07:59 AM   #10
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I was able to install the 3 ceiling fans. Thanks for everyones help/advice.

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