Lots of people can install a ceiling fan, and most people can climb a ladder. For this project, I got to do both at the same time. Ok, I know it doesn’t seem that exciting, but I got to do my first bit of electrical wiring work 15 feet in the air and came out on the other side unscathed. So come on and ride along with us on our fantastic, high flying, living room ceiling fan installation. It was a little more involved than we first thought, but with a big ladder and a lot of expert help from Jen’s Dad we were able to finally get some air moving and additional light in our living room.
In the living room, we are lucky enough to have some cool architectural beams on our ceiling. They are box beams and they are hollow and not at all structural. The center-most beam had a hole right in the center of the beam in the middle of the room, that looked like it had a fixture hanging from it at one point. So we figured that there must be electrical running through the center of that beam. How smart! This would be the perfect place for a ceiling fan, and the installation would be easy because the wires were already inside the box beam. Right?
Wrong. After further inspection, we realized that there were no wires. The placement of that little knot, right in the center of the room, was a natural knot in the wood. Thanks a lot nature. So once we realized that we were wrong, we rethought our strategy and the project grew in complexity… and danger. Things became more interesting at this point.
We used flexible conduit with wires included to connect the fan to a power source upstairs. We started from the middle by drilling a hole through a thin beam and pulling the conduit through going towards the beam where the fan would go. The tricky part about this part of the project was that the stairs are in the way. So, we got to use every bit of the 20 foot extension ladder we bought when we painted the living room.
After figuring out how to get up to the ceiling, we had to pull the conduit into the main beam and over to where we would drop it through to the fan. So we pried the bottom board off of the box beam and used a makeshift coat hanger hook to grab the wire inside.
With some persistence and thorough trust in the person holding the ladder, I got the conduit to slide slide slippity slide down to our fan mounting location. Then we did some measuring to find the precise location of the center of the room, and drilled a hole for the wires to come through.
So the wires come through, and then what’s known as a “pancake box” goes up. This piece of metal with a hole in it just serves as the glue by which the fan gets stuck to the ceiling.
At this point the most difficult part was completed. From here we assembled the fan with the addition of the extention down bar and were ready to hook the wires up on this end.
It was pretty gratifying to see the fan actually existing in the living room for the first time. The scary part was almost over. I had only one more trip to the top of the ladder to connect the remote control receiver unit and put the escutcheon on.
We tossed on some blades and just like that, we were pushing air. Well, almost. First we had to punch holes in the wall and connect the wires to the nearest power source.
You will notice that the beam got a little damaged when I was prying the bottom board down to make sure we could get through. With a little sanding, wood filler and paint this is easy to fix. The opposite side of this wall is outside, and where we will access the wire now that it is in the wall
So the conduit went into the wall and we dropped it through 2 fire stops, which are basically 2×4’s running horizontally between the studs to prevent a fire from spreading too rapidly. To get the drill in we had to punch a few holes through the outer insulation, but it was no problem to plug them back up after we were done. The whole reason for getting to this point was to reach the back of a switch panel where we could hook the fan into a hot wire. The fan is the type that you control with a remote, so we had no need to hook it up to a physical switch in the house, but instead an always on source of power.
Things looks a little crazy in there, but we turned the power off before getting near it and then cleaned it up and made sure to get everything back into place before turning it back on. We connected our main power to red, our neutral wire to the white cluster, and then our green ground wire.
We had to go way out of our way to make the fan happen. It certainly wasn’t as easy as we thought it would be. But with the fan and light in place, the living room feels like it has a defined ceiling. The light is also in a nice location to bridge the gap between the loft lights and the floor lamps we have downstairs.
The fan is simple, quiet, and smooth. Thanks Hampton Bay and Home depot for making this awesome fan available. The remote control has automated temperature settings for the fan, as well as a timer function for the light. It gets the warm air off the ceiling in the winter, and helps to animate the living room a bit. It hasn’t fallen down or blown up yet, and we still like the way it looks a week after getting it up there. Every lighting job from here will seem easy compared to this one.