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Ceiling fans are a great way to keep your home comfortable year-round. Learn how to replace an existing fan or light fixture with a new ceiling fan.
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The ceiling fan you install should be the right size for the room:
When installed, the fan blade tips should be at least 30 inches from the walls and other obstructions. The bottom edges of the blades should be at least 7 feet above the floor. Once you select a fan, check the included documentation for any additional requirements for blade clearance or ceiling height.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and safety. Check to see if you need a permit. Observe applicable building and electrical codes. Contact a licensed electrician if you have any doubts or questions about the connections, or if your home's wiring doesn't appear compatible with the changes you're making.
Ceiling fans can reduce your reliance on an air conditioner and furnace. Keep an eye out for fans with the ENERGY STAR® logo, and enjoy even more energy savings.
Turn off power to the existing fan or light at the main fuse or circuit box and use a circuit tester to verify the power is off. Place the wall switches to the fixtures in the off position.
Watch our DIY Basics video: What's In My Breaker Box?
If the location has dual-switch wiring — one switch controls the fan and a separate switch controls the light — label the wires so you'll know which ones should go to the new fan and which ones should go to the light.
If you plan to control your fan with a wall switch, make sure you have the right switch. Some fans only work with preset multi-speed switches. Don't use the fan with any solid-state speed-control device, dimmer or variable-speed switch unless it's specifically designed for use with a ceiling fan.
If your electrical box has wiring for separate fan and light switches but you aren't installing a light with your fan, trim off the bare portions of the wires for the light. Secure wire connectors to the ends of wires and wrap with electrical tape.
Disconnect the wires and remove the existing fixture. Enlist a helper to support the fixture while you remove it.
Check the electrical box in the ceiling. It must be acceptable for use with ceiling fans. Look for this indication stamped onto the inside surface of the box. You may also see a fan-weight rating. The box must be securely attached to the building structure to support the ceiling fan; it must also be grounded, or attached to a ground wire in the ceiling. If you have doubts about the suitability of the existing box, purchase and install a new one. Make sure it's acceptable for ceiling fan installation and will support the weight of the fan.
If you're installing a new electrical box, fasten it to a ceiling joist or a 2 x 4 wood brace between two ceiling joists. If there isn't a suitable joist or brace available, but you have access to the framing through the attic, add a brace that can support the fan.
The other option is installing an expandable ceiling fan hanger bar and electrical box. A hanger bar for "new work" fastens to the joists with screws. You need access to the joists — such as from the attic — to install it. You can install a hanger bar for "old work" from below the ceiling by fitting the bar through the rough opening. Extend the bar until it wedges securely between two joists. See the manufacturer's instructions for details on installing a hanger bar and box.
The new electrical box must be grounded or attached to a ground wire in the ceiling.
Remove the fan motor screws and disposable shipping blocks. Save the screws — you'll use them later to secure the blade arms to the motor. In some fan kits, these screws are packaged with the other fan installation hardware.
Secure the fan mounting bracket / ceiling plate to the ceiling electrical box according to the manufacturer's instructions.
Feed the electrical wires from the ceiling through the center hole of the mounting bracket / ceiling plate.
The steps for attaching the fan to the mounting bracket / ceiling plate will differ depending on whether the fan motor hangs from a downrod or installs flush against the ceiling. A downrod allows you to hang the fan from high or angled ceilings. A flush-mount installation works better for lower ceilings. Some fan kits include hardware for multiple installation types. You can also purchase downrods separately.
Installation on angled ceilings may require a separate downrod and an angled mounting kit.
For a fan with a downrod, thread the wires through the canopy trim ring (if applicable), canopy and downrod. Run the wires on one side of the pin in the downrod ball.
For a flush-mount fan, thread the wires from the fan motor through the top housing, trim ring (if applicable) and canopy.
For a downrod installation, insert the downrod into the collar yoke on the fan motor and secure it to the motor assembly as the manufacturer instructs.
For a flush-mount installation, attach the top housing, trim ring (if applicable) and canopy to the fan motor assembly.
Fans that work in either downrod or flush-mount applications may need additional adjustment to convert them for a flush-mount installation.
Use pliers, a wrench or a screwdriver to secure the fasteners that hold the downrod to the collar yoke.
If the mounting bracket / ceiling plate has a hook to support the fan for wiring, hang the fan on the hook. With some downrod fans, you place the hanger ball into the mounting bracket / ceiling plate. Make sure the ball is positioned properly and the tab on the mounting bracket / ceiling plate aligns with the slot on the ball.
If there is no hook or downrod, have a helper support the fan while you follow the steps below.
Some fans come with a support cable that wraps around and fastens to the brace in the ceiling that supports the electrical box. You can also purchase these cables separately.
Use a circuit tester to verify that the power is off.
Use wire connectors to join the wires according to the fan manufacturer's instructions. Connections will vary depending on whether you're using wiring for two switches — the fan and light — or single-switch wiring. Except for the bare or green ground wire, no bare wire or wire filaments should be visible outside of the wire connector after connecting the wires. Watch our Video: How Do I Connect Two Wires?
Secure the wire connectors with electrical tape to prevent them from vibrating loose during operation.
Tuck the wires into the electrical box, keeping the green wires and white wires on one side of the box and the black wires on the other side. If your electrical box is a thin, pancake-style box, separate and tuck the wires into the fan canopy.
If your fan includes a light kit or if the installation site has separate wiring for a light switch, you will have additional wiring. Move it to the same side of the box as the black wire.
Depending on your model, you may need to remove the fan from the support hook. For a downrod installation, make sure the tab on the mounting bracket / ceiling plate or canopy is seated securely in the slot on the hanger ball.
Attach the canopy to the mounting bracket / ceiling plate and attach with the supplied screws.
Install the canopy trim ring (if applicable).
If the blades are reversible, decide how you want them to face. The visible sides will face down.
Mount each blade bracket to a fan blade using the supplied hardware. Start all screws before tightening, and then tighten each.
Some fan kits include grommets you need to install in the blade mounting holes before attaching the blades to the brackets. Some fan blades do not attach with screws but simply snap onto the brackets.
Attach each blade assembly to the fan. As you did above, start the screws before tightening them.
Remove the switch housing cover plate from the fan and remove the plug from the center of the plate.
Your light kit may attach differently. Follow the instructions that came with your kit.
Use a circuit tester to verify that the power is off.
Feed the light kit wires from the light kit through the hole in the cover plate, and screw the plate tightly to the light kit to prevent it from vibrating loose.
Use only light kits the fan manufacturer specifies as compatible.
Locate the wires within the fan switch housing labeled for the light kit. Connect them to the wires from the light kit according to the fan manufacturer's instructions. Some manufacturers simplify the electrical connections between the fan and light kit with plug-in connections.
If you use wire connectors rather than plug-in connections, secure the wire connectors with electrical tape to prevent them from vibrating loose during operation.
Carefully push the wires back into the switch housing.
Attach the light kit to the switch housing with the provided hardware.
Install the bulbs specified by the light kit manufacturer. Depending on your light kit, you may need to attach light shades before installing the bulbs.
Install the light globe or bowl (if applicable).
If your kit includes pendants for the fan and light pull-chains, attach them.
Turn on the power to the fan and light and test them.
Follow the manufacturer's instructions for balancing a fan that wobbles excessively. You may simply need to tighten the screws that secure the blades to the blade brackets, the blade brackets to the fan motor, or the canopy and mounting bracket / ceiling plate to the electrical box. Make sure the box is securely fastened to the ceiling joist or hanger bar.
You can also check to make sure the blades are all mounted at the same height from the floor. Check your manual for steps to measure and adjust the blades.
If the fan still has a wobble, you may be able to correct it with a balancing kit — included with many fans. You can also purchase them separately for some models.