Ceiling fan re-installation: 4 hours [beyond expected].
Submitted by murph on 3 August 2008 - 3:19pm. houseone
Two summers ago, Cara's dad replaced the ceiling fan in our living room with a shinier, beefier one. The original ceiling fan hadn't been particularly well hung - it was installed with a plastic circuit box that was wired (meaning, as a support mechanism) with copper wire to a pipe running above the ceiling. Lovely. So he got a ceiling fan support kit, with an expandable support bar that jams in between joists so that you can stably hang a fan from it.
tv room rock band room's ceiling fan was looking similarly questionable in its structural integrity, I decided it needed to be rehung. Went out and got a support bar and everything.
Turns out this one was much more tricky. First of all, I took down the fan to find it wasn't hanging from anything at all, really - there was a hole drilled in the ceiling for the wiring to come through, and the hanging bar was simply screwed into the plaster and lath. Um. Not good. In order to even get to the point where I could install the support bar, therefore, I had to break out the recip. saw and cut a hole in the ceiling.
The living room fan was a relatively clean operation - the living room has a second floor. The rock band room, on the other hand, is in the single-story part of the house, so taking a recip saw to the ceiling gets one a face full of the history of home insulation: pearlite, cellulose, fiberglass, roofing debris, and ... a crocheted rug. (I kid not. Flickr will soon have the evidence.) This is the reason I typically avoid any kind of invasive renovation project - but fortunately I anticipated it and was properly masked.
My hole was centered on the wiring, removing the crumbling plaster the fan had been screwed into. Upon getting a hole large enough to poke around in, I found that the jokers who installed the fan originally could have moved it a mere two inches and had a joist to attach it to. I was fantastically happy for this fact when I found that the support bar, designed for slipping in between 2-by joists 16 inches on center and then expanding to bite into them, doesn't work so well when your joists are 2 1/4 inches thick rather than 1 7/8 inches thick. Hooray for sturdy historic construction!
So, one trip to Lowe's later, to get the hardware to hang the fan off the side of the joist (as well as a plastic ceiling medallion to hide the larger hole I have to cut in order to get over to the joist), and a "quick" trip into the attic to affix the joist support, and I've got a stable mounting point on which to reassemble the fan.
It still isn't quite plumb or totally wiggle-free - the years of hanging a fan from the lathe means that the ceiling around the fan is far from flat - but at least now I know that it's not going to fall on my head. Declare victory.