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Ceiling Fan Man 06-02-2009 01:07 AM

Advice for installing ceiling fan
 
I'll try to make this as clear as I can :)

I just moved into an apartment built in the 50's...I think...and I want to install a ceiling fan in the bedroom. At present there is just a light fixture there. The apartment has been somewhat renovated, but the ceiling in the bedroom is still the original, and the electrical box in the ceiling appears to be an old one.

My first worry was whether or not it would hold the weight. I checked with the super, who told me that the guy living here before me had a fan for years. I had an electrician I know come by and take a look at it, and he said it should hold the weight with no trouble.

The problem is that before I had him look at it, I started to work on it myself and did a little bit of damage to the ceiling around the edges of the electrical box.

The reason for the damage is this: for some reason one corner of the box is flush with the ceiling, but the other corner is about an inch deep in the ceiling. Maybe at some point someone re-plastered the ceiling and did an uneven job...I don't know. But my first thought was that the bracket of the ceiling fan would have to be flush against the BOX, and so I started chipping away around the embedded corner, trying to make enough space for the bracket to tighten up against the box inside the ceiling.

Now I think this was a mistake. I should have gotten a longer screw to make up for the inch gap between the surface of the ceiling and the embedded corner of the box, and just tightened the bracket against the ceiling as it was. But now the damage has been done.

What I think I need is some kind of plate to place over the hole, wide enough to cover the damage. I would screw the plate into the box and then attach the bracket to the box THROUGH the plate. I found a number of plates at Home Depot that would be perfect except they have no hole in the middle for the wires to go through.

So here are my questions, if I haven't lost you already:

1. Am I right that I need to find some way to make up for the damage to the ceiling? Does the metal plate idea sound like I'm on the right track?

2. If so, do you know where I could get the kind of plate I need?

3. Or am I worrying myself over nothing, and there's really no need to give the bracket something to tighten up against? Could I just get a longer screw to make up for the embedded corner of the box and then maybe put a washer on the other side and be done with it? Will that make the whole operation less stable?

Here are pictures:

http://www.diychatroom.com/members/c...ged-corner.jpg
Looking straight up into the ceiling. The white part at the bottom is the damaged corner.

http://www.diychatroom.com/members/c...nside-wall.jpg
Close-up of damage. Difficult to see, but this corner of the box is about an inch inside the wall.

http://www.diychatroom.com/members/c...corner-box.jpg
Here is the original bracket for the light fixture (NOT for the fan). I'm trying to show that one side can be screwed in flush against the ceiling, but the other side is kind of just hanging with the screw tightened only partially, to make up for the gap between the surface and the embedded corner of the box.

http://www.diychatroom.com/members/c...t-anything.jpg
The gap between the surface and the embedded corner of the box is more visible here, as is the fact that the bracket is not actually tightened against anything.

Am I making any kind of sense?

Thanks.

erics37 06-02-2009 01:26 AM

I would recommend getting rid of that entire box and replacing it with a listed ceiling fan box, preferably one that is designed for use in existing installations (remodel fan box) like this:

http://images.lowes.com/product/conv...69009352md.jpg

That is a Raco brand box. You can find them any ol' place. Your box looks like a regular box, probably not designed to accomodate the weight of a ceiling fan (just cause someone said "well there weren't any problems before" doesn't mean there never will be). A real fan box is heavier duty, and includes larger screws and hardware. The cylindrical rod in the picture is an adjustable-span support brace - you stick it in the existing hole and twist it. It will telescope out until it digs into the joists on either side of the hole. The little whitish plastic things snap onto it to keep it level. Then your box mounts to it and you're all set for the fan. It's all in the instructions.

ScottR 06-02-2009 12:03 PM

Does your current box have what looks like a large flat-head screw inside of a nut in the top-center? I can't tell with all the wiring in the way in your pics.

If so, then there is probably a bar spanning the two ceiling joists, and the box is hanging from the bar. I have/had a few of those in my house from the 50s, and they are TOUGH. That's not to say that the threads won't be worn on the screw holes, however.... so the fan could still come loose.

As for the damage; it looks like what you did would be covered by the escutcheon that comes with the average fan, though that completely depends upon the model.

Looks like the real problem is all that discoloration under the existing fixture. :whistling2:

BTW - Certainly it couldn't hurt to follow Eric's advice, but as you're in an apt. it might not be an option.

Ceiling Fan Man 06-02-2009 03:48 PM

ScottR,

I'll check when I get home to see how the box is attached. If it's not attached that way, what other way might it be attached?

The only issue remaining would be whether it's a problem that there will be a gap between the screw head and the edge of the box (on the embedded corner with the damage around it). You're right that the escutcheon will cover the damage, but the bracket that holds the ceiling fan up will be under that escutcheon, and if I tighten it all the way on the damaged corner, that side will be pulled about an inch into the ceiling.

So I was thinking I might need some kind of plate to place flush with the ceiling and attach to the box, so the bracket could push against that and remain flush.

Do you think something like that would be necessary? Or am I thinking too much?

Maybe the best way to find out is to just give it a try...

buletbob 06-02-2009 04:12 PM

you could also try using this http://www.wishihadthat.com/ProductI.../EM-0362lg.jpg

ScottR 06-02-2009 04:18 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ceiling Fan Man (Post 281756)
I'll check when I get home to see how the box is attached. If it's not attached that way, what other way might it be attached?

Probably nailed into the side of a joist. You should be able to see a nailing flange attached to the box, or nails going through the side of the box. If it's attached that way, then it's not sufficient to support a fan.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ceiling Fan Man (Post 281756)
The only issue remaining would be whether it's a problem that there will be a gap between the screw head and the edge of the box (on the embedded corner with the damage around it). You're right that the escutcheon will cover the damage, but the bracket that holds the ceiling fan up will be under that escutcheon, and if I tighten it all the way on the damaged corner, that side will be pulled about an inch into the ceiling.

Yeah, I know what you mean. I had a similar situation in my house, but I was hanging a relatively lightweight light fixture from it, so I just didn't tighten the screw all the way. With a fan I'd be concerned that the vibration and movement of the mount might cause wear on the threads as the screw moves (as it would if the mounting plate weren't tightened flush to the box).

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ceiling Fan Man (Post 281756)
So I was thinking I might need some kind of plate to place flush with the ceiling and attach to the box, so the bracket could push against that and remain flush. Do you think something like that would be necessary? Or am I thinking too much?

I think you're thinking the right amount..

A plate pushing against the plaster probably wouldn't help too much to stop movement, and obviously wouldn't help support the fan.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ceiling Fan Man (Post 281756)
Maybe the best way to find out is to just give it a try...

Yeah, but the only way you're gonna know if it doesn't work is when you have a fan landing on you in the middle of the night, probably with some sparks as the wires pull loose from the nuts.

The more I think about it, the more I like erics37's advice about getting a new box and support rod..

Quote:

just cause someone said "well there weren't any problems before" doesn't mean there never will be


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