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Top 5 Ceiling Fan Installation Tips

Lower Utility Bills Caused by Excessive HVAC Use

© 2012 by Sarah Harris; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission.

A Hampton Bay Ceiling Fan; photo© Kelly Smith
A Hampton Bay ceiling fan with lights

This article was updated on 02/06/20. Happy National Girls and Women in Sports Day!

If you’re tired of spending all your hard-earned cash running the AC or heater day and night, or you’d simply like a solution that helps to circulate the air in your space, then perhaps you should consider installing ceiling fans throughout your home or at least in your most occupied living area. It is one more way to lower electrical bills.

This can be a stylish way to add some visual interest to an otherwise bland overhead space, so you’ll benefit from both the practical functionality provided by the fan (especially if it’s a light/fan combo as pictured above), as well as the aesthetic quality it brings to a room.

However, you might not be keen to hire a contractor or electrician to undertake this simple task. In truth, the average homeowner should be able to pull it off alone in order to save a few dollars.

Even if you don’t happen to be the handy sort, you’ll find that just a few tips and tricks will help you to sail smoothly through this project, and here are some to get you started.

  1. Turn Off the Electricity.

    Any time you’re working with electrical systems there’s a chance you could wind up with a bit of a buzz (and then some); and not the Friday night type.

    For this reason it is absolutely imperative that you turn off the electricity running to whichever portion of the house you’re working on.

    Find your breaker box, turn on the overhead light where your ceiling fan will go, and ask someone to yell when the light goes off. Then start flipping breakers until you discover which one is linked to the fixture where your fan will soon reside.

    Of course, if this is a new install where there was not previously a light fixture, you will need to run wiring and install a junction box. Usually, you can tap into another circuit.

    Always consult with your local building code to make sure you can do this work yourself rather than hiring a licensed electrician.

    This may be a good opportunity to label the switches on your breaker box so that you don’t have to go through this tedious exercise in the future. It will also make it easier to work through electrical issues in the future.

  2. Label All Wiring.

    Whether you’re replacing a standard lighting fixture with one that features fan blades or you’re simply swapping out your old ceiling fan for a new one, it’s a good idea to use colored tape to label the wires.

    Often, the wires already have colored sleeves with only a small stub of copper wiring sticking out. This is to protect you from shock as well as help you to match up cables.

    However, you may still have a hard time determining what goes where, so take the time for this step and you won’t be sorry. Often, the wire colors coming out of your junction box won’t match the ones on the fan. Consult the instructions and/or check their website.

  3. Cap Off Cables Not in Use.

    Forward-thinking electricians might install additional wiring around the house to ensure that the needs of growing families and expanding technology may be accommodated down the road.

    To this end you could discover superfluous cables floating around. You can purchase plastic wire caps at the hardware store for practically nothing, so have a few on hand to cap off leftover wiring once you’ve finished attaching your fan. Just be sure you use the correct size cap for the wire.

  4. Consult Online Tutorials.

    If you don’t want to buy a guidebook to help you out, simply go online for a detailed article that will teach you how to install a ceiling fan step by step.

    Otherwise, you have another option. Most manufacturers have good information on their site, plus an email address and a phone number. Make use of it if you need it.

  5. Get a Little Help.

    Some ceiling fans are a little more complex to install than, say, garden lights. And they’re heavier, too.

    For these reasons you might want to ask for a little help, at least with holding the unwieldy contraption while you try to hook up the wiring.

    And if you’re just not sure how everything gets attached, bring along a handy friend who has done it before or has the know-how to figure it out for you.

    Finally, before you give it a test run, check carefully where the blade brackets meet the body of the fan. Many manufacturers stick in little rubber plugs to lock everything during shipping. Remove them.

    For some reason, they often neglect to include this vital information in the installation manual. First-time installers who don’t know this info will think the wiring is wrong when the blades don’t spin.

Now you should have no trouble with your ceiling fan installation. Do you have any tips that would benefit our readers regarding this topic? Please share in the comment section below!

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