How to Install a Ceiling Fan or Change a Light Fixture

If you would like to add an extra fan or change a light fixture to your home; stop before calling a contractor. You may be able to do the work yourself. Installing a fan or other surface mounted device can easily be done as long as there already is an fixture box in the ceiling. A fixture box is required for any ceiling lighting, so if you are replacing an old fixture you should be able to complete this small project in a few hours.

Before buying a new fixture, you must take a look at the fixture box. This is the metal object that contains the wires to power your old fixture. If your fixture box is not nailed to a joist, the fixture you buy must weigh less than 5 pounds. If it is nailed to the joist, there are no restrictions unless your new fixture is 30 pounds or more. Then your fixture must be attached to the metal fixture box with a reducing nut or hickey.

The easiest way to examine the fixture box is to remove the old fixture. Before beginning, make sure that there is no power to the circuit. This can be done by removing the fuse or switching the circuit breaker to off. Do not attempt to do any work on your fan or lighting fixture until you are sure that there is no electricity reaching the fixture.

When you go to your home improvement store, the ceiling fans or lighting fixtures should indicate how heavy they are. If you are looking at a model that is out of its box, ask a salesperson. They should be able to tell you this information. Also, while you are picking out your new fixture, make sure you have wire nuts and a screwdriver to install it.

The National Electrical Code requires that all new fixtures have a grounding wire. Most newer homes have this wire. If your home is old, or does not have a grounding wire, call a professional to install your new fixture. Although installing a grounding wire can be easy, a professional will know the most expedient way to do it.

If you have not already completely removed the old fixture, do so now. Look for screws that mount the base of the fixture to the fixture box and remove them. Then unscrew the wire nuts or unwrap the electrical tape that holds the ends of the wires together. Pay particular attention to how the wires are attached to each other. Some people sketch a quick diagram so they do not forget.

Working with another person, have that person hold the fixture while you attach the new wires. You should attempt to match the wires exactly the way the old fixture was wired. The new wires should be connected using wire nuts, even if your wires were connected with electrical tape.

To secure the fixture, reverse the steps you used to remove the old fixture. The new fixture should have hardware to affix it to the fixture box. Be sure to use all the hardware that your new fixture’s manual indicates. One screw may hold a ceiling lamp for a small amount of time, but it is not a good idea for the long term. Once the ceiling fan or light fixture is attached, take a look at the ceiling. You may need to patch it. Do this before turning back on the current to the fixture box.

Once everything cosmetically looks the way you would like, turn on the current to the fixture box. If you have followed all of the steps correctly your light fixture or ceiling lamp should work just fine.

Many people know very little about electricity and wiring. If you are unsure what a wirenut even is, you may want to call a professional. If you do decide to do the work yourself, take as many precautions as possible to prevent an electrical shock. Your best protection will be, of course, to properly turn off the circuit. If you do not know how to do this, definitely call a professional. A good technician, when asked, will show you how to do this in case you would like to try to install the next new fixture.

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