Meet my biggest fan 29 May 2015
personal homeowner

In a previous post I mentioned that I have become a home owner, which dictates that I must now spend an innumerable number of hours fixing, tinkering and otherwise causing damage to the home I have purchased. The latest installment of “I bet I can do that” involved the installation of a 52” ceiling fan in my living room.

@agentdero all home projects require three Home Depot visits.

(via @kristophera)

After more than a week with temperatures reaching higher than 85F in the living room, I set out on Saturday to perform the job quickly in between other scheduled activities. With my wife joining me in the fan selection process, we made our first trip to Home Depot to select a reasonably priced fan.

Preparing the installation

Climbing up my green ladder, I began to disassemble the ugly light fixture, with its single ugly light bulb. I had been lead to believe, by the fan’s installation directions, that I would find a simple outlet box above the ugly light fixture onto which the fan would be straight-forward to install.

If only!

The ugly light ficture sitting on the painter’s plastic below me, I did not discover an outlet box with a hot, neutral and ground wire but rather a nest of wires connected together, a junction box doubling as a light fixture! The box also had a circular shape, the diameter of which was simply too small to affix a mounting bracket to. Adding insult to injury the outlet box had been secured to the cross-beam (joist) on one side and rested on the drywall on the other. An insufficient support structure for a ceiling fan to say the least.


I hop in the car and head back to Home Depot (trip number two) to grab a spanning brace, which is meant to expand outward between two of the wooden joists in the ceiling, providing a secure cross-bar from which to install a new outlet box. The spanning brace I bought can be installed by inserting it through the hole in the ceiling and expanding it from below, making it so the poor schmoe who’s installing the fan doesn’t have to get into the attic.

Initially I couldn’t make this work because I couldn’t unseat the old box to make a hole, so I scurried into the roof to figure out how to get the old outlet box out and place the new spanning brace.

Once in the attic I discover that the outlet box isn’t visibly secured to the outlet box from above, but instead there is a tab that sticks out from one side of the joist behind the box. As my luck would have it, the box had been nailed to the wooden joist from below and then covered with dry-wall. So I grab my handy-dandy knife and cut an even bigger hole in the ceiling.

A nice mess of wires in the attic

I make notes of which wires connect where and how and finally got the old outlet box removed and the spanning brace installed, allowing me to escape from the insulation-filled hell that protects the house from the 90F heat outside.

Actually installing the fan

A sufficiently ample hole in my ceiling, dry-wall dust coating both the plastic sheeting and my lungs, a spanning brace in place and a good night’s rest since the previous day’s adventure into the roof, I set out again to install a simple ceiling fan.

First I had to install the new outlet box to support the fan; only a few bolts to tighten this quickly got me to the next step in the process. To make sure I didn’t go too far before ensuring the circuit was functional, I rewired the junction from my notes, connected the old light bulb, flipped the breakers and the switch and thankfully started lighting the room instead of lighting a fire.

With the fan’s mounting bracket attached to the outlet box I quickly realized the coupling between the fan and the bracket would require tightening screws just about level with the ceiling. An impossible task with the minimally cut hole; pulling out my handy-dandy knife again, I made an even bigger hole.

Finally able to secure the fan coupling to the mounting bracket, I finally had a fan hanging from the ceiling!


I now had a fan and a big hole in the ceiling, meaning trip number three was made to Home Depot to pick up a dry-wall repair kit.

Finishing off the rest of the light installation for the fan was very quick work and required barely any brain power, which was good because I was running on fumes at this point.

What I had hoped would be a quick afternoon activity turned into a two-day pain in the ass, but at least I’ve got a big fan to keep things cooler now!

My biggest fan
Fully installed fan