Thursday, July 12, 2018

Geek Girl Replaces Ceiling Fan, Somehow Doesn't Electrocute Herself

At long last, I've got our first video tutorial from the big house renovation! I've insisted on doing all the work in these myself, which has slowed us down a bit, ha. I want to prove that mere mortals can do this stuff, too, not just John - who I suspect was born with a cordless drill in his hand and an innate understanding of electrical wiring in his heart.

I actually changed out three ceiling fans for this video, just to get everything sorted in my head enough to teach you how. I've helped John change dozens of fans before this, but this was the first time I did everything on my own - and I gotta say, it's kind of a rush!

Quick Safety PSA: Old houses (and sometimes even new ones) can have some really funky wiring going on. Be safe, and always have an electrical tester on hand to double-check that the power is off after you flip the breaker. (I know I say the tester is optional in the video, ignore that.) If you see ANYTHING you're not sure of up in that ceiling box, stop and call in a professional. Please. The last thing we want is you endangering yourself or your home, and bad electrical wiring can be scary, burn-your-house-down stuff.

Fun Facts: John once melted a screwdriver on faulty wiring here in our own home (our breaker box failed, this should NOT happen), and another time I was blown back on my butt when SOMEONE flipped a breaker while I was still working. (coughcoughJOHNcough) So please, take your time, respect the wires, and make sure the power is off.

Right, now that I've scared the pants of you: this really isn't as intimidating as you think. I promise you DON'T have to pay a pro $200 to come change out a light or fan every time, because the wiring itself is surprisingly simple!

Enough chatter, here, let me walk you through it:



I hope this inspires some of you to grab some tools, and get to work! As always if you have questions, hit me up in the comments - John & I'll do our best to answer.


32 comments:

  1. This is the one I've been waiting for! I'm still pretty intimidated, but hopefully I can figure it out. Thanks for doing these.

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  2. Woo hoo! Super timely - we have a ceiling fan to put up and, due to health issues, the hubby can't help, so I'll be on my own (with his cheerleading of course).

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  3. Thank you!!! I am looking at changing my parents ceiling fan. Electrical stuff scares me (getting shocked numerous times with an electric fence will do that) So am looking forward to watching this.

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  4. Nice! This stuff scares me, but you make it look so doable.
    Hoping you go over changing out light switches. I need to do all of the gross ones in my house!

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    1. Yes, switching out outlets & light switches is coming up soon!

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    2. Yay! I am looking forward to this, too.

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  5. Tip from not-a-pro, start earlier in the day, as in before it gets dark...we always seem to be halfway done installing the light/fan when the sun sets, and of course the electricity is off. Not as much fun when someone has to hold flashlights so you can see where wires and screws go ��

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  6. I think my landlady would have a fit if I installed a ceiling fan, but it’s always good to know for future reference. As an elementary teacher I’m again in awe of your skills, Jen. In addition to being a blogger/photographer/crafter/DIYexpert extraordinaire, you are a natural-born teacher.

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  7. If you just have an overhead light, can you replace It with a ceiling fan just as easy as this? I’ve always wanted to add a ceiling fan to my room!

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    1. Most of the time, if you have a metal box solidly attached in the ceiling, you can mount a ceiling fan. But it has to be structurally sound. If your house was built recently, it should have metal boxes mounted to studs and you should have no problem mounting a fan. That said, when in doubt, talk to an electrician.

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  8. Awesome! I have three ceiling fans where the lights don't work due to a whole mess of reasons but mostly regulations and limiters that broke. I've been waiting till I got the extra cash to replace them all at once, but I plan to study this and then I can do them myself one at a time. Thanks!!

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  9. Once you've tested the fan motor, do you have to turn the breaker off again before installing the light?

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    1. YES. The breaker should always be off if wires are exposed, for safety's sake.

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    2. It's always best to have the breakers off. Even if the wall switches are off, it's just safer.

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  10. Thanks for the video! As a new home owner, this helps me a whole lot; I feel a lot less intimidated about changing out a ceiling fan! (And boy, will we need to do it eventually!) For an upcoming video, would you talk about replacing outlets? That's another thing that we've talked about doing; if I could do it myself, that would be helpful.

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  11. in Australia its actually illegal to do electrical work yourself unless you are a qualified electrician. Our local cable channel has to run disclaimers to that effect when screening overseas made DIY shows. It would be nice to not have to pay a professional for simple jobs. Lisa D.

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  12. We changed out a ceiling fan in our old house, and that was... interesting. We'd tested all of the breakers, knew exactly what to turn off, and my husband took the fan down and there was a paper towel wadded up inside the wiring. He started to disconnect everything and it nearly shocked him, burning one of the wire caps! We had no idea what happened, we'd turned everything off! Turns out some idiot had feed in a different wire that was connected to a different breaker. We sorted it out and later had the breakers rewired to reduce load anyway (they had the entire upstairs power on one breaker... sigh). I kept the burnt wire cap and turned it into a Christmas tree ornament as a reminder of lucky we were it didn't go badly.

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    1. *fed, not feed

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  13. Whenever my dad was standing behind an apprentice showing him how to do something electrical, he would smack his hands together and yell BANG! to scare the cr&p out of them. he said it was a lesson to them to always check the power is off. I think he just found it amusing.

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  14. What's black and red and hangs from the ceiling? An amateur electrician.

    That joke always cracks me up. My hubby always scares me when he does electrical work with the power on. It's a hazard when he works with a guy who is colorblind.

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  15. Watched this last night with husbot. He still wants to cal his brother for everything
    (a licensed electrician) but I have successfully changed out simple light bulb fixtures in the basement myself, a thermostat, and walked him through replacing the outdoor lamppost light. We did have his brother re-wire for a new electric dryer (who knew those things don't all have a standard plug - there are several types), and install a ceiling fan/light combo where we had no previous fixture at all (Seriously my living room and my mom's were designed by the same guy with no overhead light or fan at all and the only room in the house that lacked that feature). So thanks for the tutorial... we may replace the fans that came with the house after we finish the big clean up/clear out that we're doing.

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  16. Another helpful tip on the wire nuts- if they aren't gripping the wires after you've tried a few times, you may need a different size. Speaking from experience replacing my light fixture :-) the ones that came with the fixture were too small to securely hold the wires, so ended up reusing the old ones that were slightly larger.

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  17. This was really interesting. Now I want to try it! Also at one point you said something about "taking the cowl down" but all I heard was "taking the cow bell" and now I have Christopher Walken in my head telling me he needs more cow bell.... :)

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  18. In defense of John - I've melted/arc welded a screw driver myself. It was a Craftsman so I'm still tempted to bring it to Sears and ask for my free replacement...

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  19. Go, Jen! I LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE your videos so much! Even when it's something I already know how to do, it's still fun as heck to watch you do it because you're so good at making instructional videos.

    A few notes for people who will try this for the first time:
    When you take down the old fan, if you cut the wires instead of taking off the wire-nuts, be sure to cut as close to the wire-nuts as possible so that you'll still have enough wire to work with when you put the new fan up. If the black and white wires (and blue) coming out of the box are already really short and you can't pull any more length out of the box, do NOT cut the wires...just undo whatever mess is there. Also, if you cut the wires, you will need wire strippers so that you can strip the insulation off the tip of the section of wire you cut. If you don't have wire strippers, you can use or a utility/craft knife and some careful patience.

    KW

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    1. Came back to see if I wrote "blue" or "red" wire and saw that I accidentally wrote blue. I meant the red wire coming out of the box on the ceiling (if you have anything other than black, white, and ground). The blue wire for the light kit would attach to the red wire.

      So, just be careful not to cut any wires coming out of the box in the ceiling too short when you take out the old fan (IF you cut wires), or it's going to be a total pain in the buttocks to work with. My home was built in the 50s, and everything is wired so short; that's not fun when I have to change out anything.

      Also, I didn't mean the "section of wire you cut," I just meant "the wire you cut."

      I'm going to stop leaving "helpful" tips from not on. Obviously, I failed, heh!

      KW

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  20. I liked seeing your face from in between the fan blades! ;)

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  21. I'm glad these videos are so encouraging to everyone, and that you didn't get electrocuted!

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  22. So... since you can remove the light portion of the fan, does that mean you can replace just the lights on an existing ceiling fan? The one that was already installed in our bedroom is a decent looking brown fan & base, but it has an ugly metallic gold 4 bulb light fixture attached to it... if it's possible to just replace that, that'd be awesome.

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  23. That was very helpful, thank you. I always wondered how one person could do it by themselves bc I didn't know the motor could hang off to the side like that.
    Question. You didn't show how the green wires connect to each other.

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    1. Hi!

      If you go to 10:59 in the video, you will see Jen connect the two green wires. One is on the fan bracket and the other is on the fan base. If you have a newer home, you will probably have a bare (not insulated) ground wire coming out of the ceiling box. In that case, you would gather both green wires from the fan along with the bare ground wire from the ceiling box and twist a wire nut onto all three wires together. If, like in the video, you have an older house with only a black and a white wire coming out of the ceiling box, then you just do what Jen does in this video: green wire on the bracket attaches with a wire-nut to the green wire on the fan base.

      KW

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