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 June 8, 2012
Ask Noorm: Ceiling Fan Support

David: Question: Ceiling Fan Support: We have a 200-year-old house with a kitchen that was remodeled about 10 or 15 years ago and fitted with recessed lights. I have a beautiful ceiling fan with a light that I brought from another house, and I'd like to use it in the kitchen. But my electrician told me I can't hang the fan through the recessed lighting fixture. Is that true?

Michelle Murray, Mendon, Mass.

Norm's answer: Absolutely. In fact, electrical codes state specifically that a ceiling fan shouldn't be connected to any standard ceiling electrical box. It's not the electrical load that's the problem, it's that a fan is heavy and moves, so it needs more support than an electrical box provides. There are several kinds of mounting boxes for fans, and some are designed specifically for retrofit applications (see drawing below). One type incorporates adjustable steel straps that support the box between two adjacent rafters, while others use a system of steel plates arranged so that the weight of the fan is supported directly by a single rafter. Both approaches resist the fan's torque-its turning force- and eliminate the possibility of fasteners pulling loose. And both can be installed without the need to remove a lot of drywall or plaster. Assuming you have enough headroom, you should be able to hang the fan in about the same location as the recessed light, but you may have to cut away some drywall to fir the brackets in.

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