Asked on Jun 3, 2012

Ceiling fan install

KMS WoodworksPatricia HMidlantic Contracting LLC / Midlantic Electric Inc


I'm replacing an old light fixture with a ceiling fan. I am removing the old light fixture anticipating to replace the electrical box, but found an octagon metal box for the current fixture. I do not know if it is mounted on a beam, not am I sure how to determine that. Can I use the box that is currently there not knowing how it is mounted or is there a way to determine what it's mounted on?
6 answers
  • 3po3
    on Jun 4, 2012

    Patricia, I always advise folks with basic level electrical questions to leave them to the pros. I would bring in a pro on this one. Worth the cost, as a mistake here can be very very dangerous.

  • Most ceiling boxes are either fastened by screws to the side of the box with a little metal bar that you cannot see, or for fixture boxes to support heavy lights and fans you will see in the middle of the box a bolt type of attachment with a nut holding it on. or a few screws fastened to a metal bar that spans the box. I assume there is no access to above this box as from an attic area? Most older homes have the metal bar that supports the fixture box, however, many of these are not strong enough for many of the heavy light and fan combos made today. However they all have ether a few machine screws holding them onto the bar that you cannot see or a round bolt like item coming out in the middle of the box. If you remove the nut or the two machine screws the box should drop out of the hole in the ceiling allowing you access to the cavity above. Once that is gained there are several heavy duty expandable support brackets that can be put into place to support your light fixture. You may want a professional contractor to install this for you. If you see a metal bar running through the middle of the box from one side to the other that to is a fan or heavy light fixture box. Can you take a photo of it exposed? A good quality close up will help us identify what you have.

    ceiling fan install, electrical, lighting, If you look closely on the metal box with the bar you will see two screws that span across the metal bar that runs behind the box These screws are fastened to a bracket that holds the box to the bar
  • KMS Woodworks
    on Jun 4, 2012

    Even if there is a metal box it may not be a "fan rated" box. Fan rated boxes typically do not use the bent "ear tabs" for the bridge bar connectors but rather have a screw "tube" that is welded to the back of the box other have "bolts" that are set from behind the box. Some ceiling fan designs use a larger metal hanger bracket that supports the fans weight. These are mounted using lags in to the ceiling joist or can be set with butterfly mollys. There are a number of metal boxes that use braces or telescoping mounts. A skilled installer can install these up through the existing "hole" so extensive drywall repair is not needed. Another option is to work from above in the attic space if available.

    ceiling fan install, electrical, lighting, one type of fan bracketceiling fan install, electrical, lighting, adjustable box support
  • A well lit close up photo would be nice to help determine what you have.

  • Patricia H
    on Jun 7, 2012

    Thanks everyone! I decided to wait until my Dad comes to visit and have him install it. He's had a few more years than me to perfect his handiness. :-)

  • KMS Woodworks
    on Jun 8, 2012

    that is what days are for right?...I looking forward to when my daughter have their own places and want me to help 13 and 11 I'm going to need to wait a bit yet though.

Your comment...