A ceiling fan saga

Armitage low-profile ceiling fanMaggie had her bridal shower this weekend, but I had some excitement myself. After two weeks of abortive starts and dangling wires, I finally managed to install a ceiling fan in my new home office. It’s a good candidate for a ceiling fan because it’s in a corner, which means there’s not much airflow. Unfortunately, the ceilings are relatively low (7.5 feet), which made it hard to find a short enough ceiling fan.

It seemed like every ceiling hugger fan had a huge light fixture and vice versa. But, after searching for several days, I found a fan with a total height of less than a foot. Even better, it was less than $20! All I had to do was take it back, remove the old light, and put the fan in.

Of course, that’s where the trouble started. Removing the old light was no problem, but it revealed a plastic fixture. Since the ceiling fan instructions said in big letters DO NOT INSTALL IN A PLASTIC FIXTURE, that was something of a problem. Even worse was that we couldn’t tell how the fixture was connected.

So we just left the wires dangling from the fixture while we figured out what to do. I moved a floor lamp into my office so that I could actually work and that’s where things stood for a week. Once we’d gotten some more important projects done, including using the old light to replace the hanging chandelier in the dining room (it was way too tall and included too many incandescent bulbs), we revisited the project by buying two of the three types of fan fixtures that Lowe’s had. The first just bolts directly to a joist. The other, more stable one, has extending arms that bolt to the two nearest joists. The one we didn’t get bolts underneath a joist, but our joists are right up against the ceiling, so we figured it couldn’t be that.

Armed with a new ladder (and a broom to measure distance), Maggie crawled into the attic and dug through the blown insulation for the top of the fixture. I stood below, ready to catch her and yelling up directions as I heard her moving around. She found and cleared it only to discover that it matched none of the three fixtures.

Instead, it wrapped up the sides of the joist and bolted into both sides. This left the fixture pretty shallow, but made it sturdy. And, of course, to install one of the metal fixtures, we’d have to cut a new hole.

Luckily, while checking the plastic fixture on Saturday, I scraped it clean enough that I could read the lettering which said that it was rated for ceiling fans! I immediately pulled the ceiling fan pieces out and started assembling only to be thwarted at the beginning by my lack of two washers.

Sunday, I grabbed my friend Ian and took off for the hardware store to return the metal fixtures and get my two washers. We returned triumphant and, two hours later, I had a ceiling fan in my office… just in time for the weather to cool down.

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