Ceiling Fan Masters!

We are MASTERS of installing ceiling fans. Masters.

Two weekends ago, it was hotter than the gates of hell. Mid to high 90’s and humid. Our poor little AC unit in the bedroom absolutely could not keep up. We were lucky the basement stayed as cool as it did. But anyway, back to the fans.

Saturday morning we hit the Dane County Farmers Market again, because family, and outside, and its awesome. And much like the previous weekend, we also hit the west side ReStore. The east side one just isn’t as good. They have furniture, no renovation materials. We were looking for a replacement ceiling fan for our guest room / future nursery. And boy did we find it. The old fan did work, so at first we were looking at picking up a new globe and blades, because we know you can do that now, but then we saw it. The fan of our dreams. The same style and brand (Hampton Bay, thanks Home Depot!) as the one we put in our master bedroom, except this one had a brushed nickel finish and reversible light wood and cherry fan blades. I mean, it is a thing of beauty. It was love at first sight. And even at $25, we couldn’t pass it by. We even found 2 globes on the ReStore shelves that match the fan in our bed room (still on the hunt for two more). We popped that baby in the back of the truck and headed home!

I’m a decent electrician thanks to my years in technical theatre (remind me to tell you about that time I rewired a set of footlights right up until a show started -spoiler alert: I fixed them). But I did learn a lesson with that first fan we put up. You see, both (old nasty) wires coming out of the ceiling are the same freaking color. And I didn’t mark them when undoing the electrical on the first fan we put up, which led to a very scary guessing game on which the white wire and which is the black. This time I marked the white wire before disconnecting. Electrical genius. Owing to that, and the fact that we gathered all our tools ahead of time and that this was the exact same fan we had put up a week ago, it went up in a snap. The only trouble spot was that the cat stole one of three locking nuts at some point in the process – luckily B ran to the garage and was able to scare up a nut of the same size to replace. Thanks Millie-cat. And we still haven’t found it….

We were on a roll. So we decided to tackle the Frankensteined ceiling fan for our dining room next.

See, the previous weekend at the ReStore, a sweet employee in the fan department saw us looking at a fan, and helped us swap out the blades and globes for ones we liked better. We custom designed the fan, and it was perfect for the look of our kitchen/dining room. So we hauled the fan body in to the dining room, took the cover off, and then hit a solid concrete wall. The fan body was completely different than the other 2 we had installed, to the point where we, two smart people, could not fathom how to attach it to the ceiling. We surmised that the mounting bracket must be missing, though for the life of me I couldn’t even figure out how one would attach. So into the car and back to the ReStore where we found yet another fan that would work, with a mounting bracket that made sense.

Back to the house, got the mounting bracket on the ceiling with ease, attached the wiring, and then struck out again. This new one was called a “close mount” fan, which meant it mounted right up against the ceiling. But because of that, it was actually TOO close to the ceiling, and try as we might, we could not affix the fan motor unit to the mounting bracket. We could see the screw holes, and line them up nice, and could not get the screw to catch. After an hour of struggling, I went in search of better hardware, and started disassembling the Frankenstein fan even more, in search of better screws. Then the light bulb went on. After disassembling that fan a bit more, I finally understood how it mounted. The initial Frankenstein fan.

So back up on the ladder, undid the electrical, unscrewed the mounting plate, and down came the new new fan. Up went the mounting plate on the Frankenstein fan, attached the electric, and affixed the motor unit. We were really making progress, at least until it was time to attach the fan blades. Remember, we had removed the fan’s original blades at the store in exchange for some better looking ones. Luckily, the attachment holes on the fan blades lined up with the spots on the motor (they don’t always and we didn’t realize that at time of purchase. You’d think those things would be universal). But what didn’t fit was the hardware. The screw holes in the blades were too small, and smaller hardware that fit the blades wouldn’t fit the fan. There was no going back now. B took the blades to the garage and drilled out the holes just enough to get the hardware through. Thank goodness for DeWalt drill bits, and thank goodness brass is soft metal. As he finished up a blade, I attached it to the fan. At least until the last blade.

Suddenly we were two screws short, and they are a specific size. We must have left the ReStore without some of the hardware. Nothing we had in the house would work. Back into the car for a quick run to Ace Hardware. Except we got there and found them closed – low and behold it was 5:45pm and how did it get that late?? We were bound and determined to get this fan finished, so we went to Home Depot, looked at every type of 1/2″ screw in the hardware aisle without luck before B had the genius idea to check the ceiling fan department. There, on a bottom hanging rack, was a single pack of ceiling fan blade hardware. We raced to the checkout, hurried home, and attached the final fan blade.

We stood back, flipped the switch, and stood in the gentle breeze that silly little fan was now producing through our dining room.

I truly believe that after this experience, there is no ceiling fan we cannot install.

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