How to Install Ceiling Fans

Whether your ceiling fan is broken or just out of style, improve lighting and ventilation in any room with this weekend project.

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Solve two problems with one great solution: Improve lighting and ventilation by replacing an existing light fixture with a ceiling fan. It's a project you can do in one evening. According to the National Retail Hardware Association, installing a fan is a task 50,000 households tackle every year.

Here, we'll present the basic steps involved in the project. For more specific instructions, be sure to read the directions packaged with your fan.

Tip: To keep your family comfortable and energy costs low, set your fan to spin counterclockwise in the summer and clockwise in the winter. We all know how fans cool off rooms in the summer, but the clockwise motion in the winter makes cool air rise and redistributes warm air. 

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Step 1: Shut off the electricity

Turn on the existing light fixture, then shut off power to the fixture. For extra safety, place a piece of tape over the circuit breaker or fuse to warn others that you're working.

Step 2: Remove the old fixture

Unscrew the fixture to reveal the electrical wire connections. Untwist wire nuts to free the wires (Image 1). Preassemble the new fan following manufacturer's directions. Note particularly if you will need to add extra ceiling support for your fan.

Step 3: Attach the new plate

Thread the lead wires through the opening in the ceiling plate; secure the ceiling plate to the 2x4 brace that supports the outlet box. The fan we used included noise-buffering rubber bushings on top of the ceiling plate. When attaching the ceiling plate to the outlet box support, tighten the mounting screws only enough to provide slight compression of the bushings.

Step 4: Wire the new fixture

This fan has a hook in the ceiling plate that holds the fan while you work. Connect electrical wires to the wires from the motor -- black to black and black/white, white to white -- using approved connectors. Connect the ground wire to the green leads from the motor and to the ceiling plate. 

Spread the wires apart with the white and green wires on one side of the outlet box, and the black and black/white wires on the other side. Carefully tuck the wires through the hole in the plate and into the outlet box.

Caution: Never lift a fan by the electrical wires. No bare wire or wire strands should be visible after making connections.

Step 5: Install fan blades

Slide an assembled fanblade into position on the fan. Working through the light/switch housing, align screws in both holes; tighten screws in place. Repeat for all blades. Outfit the fixture with bulbs, secure the glass globe over the light/switch housing, and you're ready for lights and action.

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