How to replace a ceiling fan in your home

How to replace a ceiling fan in your home



Ceiling fans can make excellent additions to your space. They circulate air to keep the space comfortable, look beautiful and accent a room. Their ability to provide a comfortable breeze can also ease the stress on your air conditioner, which many homeowners appreciate.

People might find several reasons to replace their ceiling fan. If your fan breaks, you may want to replace it to continue experiencing the benefits of circulated air. Similarly, you may want to replace your ceiling fan as part of a home improvement project, allowing you to update the fixtures throughout your home and create the look you want for your space.

Regardless of the reasons that inspire you to replace your ceiling fan, we’ll walk you through what you need to know about this process. Let’s explore how to choose the right ceiling fan for your room and how to get it installed and ready for your home improvement project.


What you need to know before replacing your ceiling fan

Ceiling fans generate breezes that can help rooms feel more comfortable. For best results, ensure you choose the right ceiling fan to meet your needs. Keep the following ideas in mind as you begin planning to replace your ceiling fan.

  • Not all ceiling fans fit all rooms. Ensure the fan can maximize its ability to generate airflow. We discuss more about how to choose the right ceiling fan below.
  • Pay attention to the UL listing for the fan you want. This tells you if you can use the fan in an area that comes in contact with water (which will earn it a wet UL listing), and if you can use the fan outside or if it is for inside use only.
  • Place your fan in a space that will maximize its impact. A longer down rod can be an excellent choice if you have high or sloped ceilings.
  • Consider whether you want to have an integrated light. The light can either be part of the fan or separate. 
  • Try to maximize your use of the ceiling fan. In colder weather, reverse the direction the fan spins to help circulate warm air and keep the home comfortable.

Keeping these tips in mind can help you choose the right fan for your space, thus simplifying the rest of the steps.


A step-by-step guide on ceiling fan installation

Replacing a ceiling fan is a DIY project that many homeowners can manage; however, it requires working with electricity. Those who have not worked with ceiling fixtures before should understand the steps involved thoroughly before beginning this type of project. If you need help installing your ceiling fan, contacting a handyperson or professional contractor can be quick and easy.

1. Gather tools and supplies

Gather all the tools you might need for your project before getting started. You want to have everything easily accessible before you begin to avoid pausing in the middle of the project to look for an important part. 

Place the items in your workspace so you can access them when needed. The tools and equipment you will need include:

  • Your new fan
  • Screwdrivers
  • Voltage tester
  • Ladder
  • Wire cutters
  • Wire caps
  • Access to the breaker box to shut off power to particular circuits in your home

Once you have gathered the necessary tools, you are ready to move to the next step.

2. Turn off the power

Before doing anything else, go to your breaker box and turn off the power to the area where you will be working. Flip the switch on the circuit breaker that controls the room where you want your fan to go. This safety measure ensures the wires you touch aren’t live. 

Double-check that the power has been cut off even after you flip this switch. Use your voltage tester to make sure no electricity comes through the lines. You also want to flip the switch that will power the fan to ensure it has been completely disconnected.

3. Remove the old fan

Once you switch off the power completely, you’re ready to remove the old fan. It may help to look at the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific fan so you can detach it from the ceiling correctly. 

The canopy is the first piece you will remove. The canopy is near the ceiling and covers the wires that control the fan. You will need a screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the canopy in place. Once you remove the canopy, use your voltage tester to double-check that no electricity flows to the wires you are about to touch. Follow the instructions for your voltage tester and check each wire under the canopy individually.

Once you are sure that the wires are not active, you can remove the wire caps and untwist the wires underneath to separate the fan wires from the wires in the ceiling. In many fans, you will want to begin with the black wires, progress to the white wires, and finish with the bare or green wires depending upon your model.

Once you’ve separated the wires, you should see where the fan attaches to the mounting bracket. Generally, you can slide the fan out of the mounting bracket (though it may need a little encouragement). Support the fan as you lower it so it doesn’t come crashing down. 

Once the fan is out of the mounting bracket, remove the bracket itself. Leave the mount that attaches to the ceiling as you take out the bracket. You will affix the new bracket to the same mount in just a moment.

Look at the wires that remain in the ceiling to ensure nothing looks frayed or needs repair before installing the new fan.

4. Install the ceiling bracket for the new fan

Your bracket was designed to hold your specific new fan in place. Align your new bracket with the mount and wires in the ceiling. Look at the mount bolts and pull the wires through the center of the bracket. Then secure the bracket in place (often using screws). Follow the instructions offered by your manufacturer.

5. Assemble the new ceiling fan

Now you’ll need to find the wires coming from your fan’s motor. Thread them through the canopy and into the down rod. Once the wires have successfully gone through the down rod, firmly attach the down rod to the top of the fan. In many models, you need to screw the down rod in place, or there may be a locking screw that you can tighten with a wrench. 

Failing to attach the down rod thoroughly can lead to a fan that wobbles when you turn it on. Depending on your precise model, you may also need to attach the ball mount to the fan. Your fan is now ready for you to position on the ceiling.

6. Attach the canopy and wires

You may want to get someone to help you with this portion of the process. Lift the fan up to the bracket so the ball at the top slides easily into the bracket you placed earlier. Check your owner’s manual to see how your ball and bracket should fit together.

Since the fan wires needed to be long enough to thread through all the pieces of the fan successfully, they’ll likely be too long for your purposes now. Therefore, you need wire cutters and wire strippers. Aim to have your wires about 6 to 8 inches longer than your down rod. Use the wire stripper to trim the plastic ends so the wires can twist together with the wires inside the ceiling.

Take a wire nut to connect the green wires, the white wires and then the black wires. Tuck your wire connections up into the unit. 

7. Attach the fan blades

Attach your new fan blades by sliding each one into a bracket. After you position the blade, secure it in place with a screw. The precise method you will use to secure your blades depends on your exact model. Generally, you will attach the blades to the brackets and then the blade brackets to the fan motor. Securely tighten all the pieces so nothing wobbles when you turn on the fan.

8. Add the switch housing

The fan’s switch housing is the part that attaches to your motor and contains the important electrical wiring. Once you have attached your wires, push them back into the switch housing and prepare to place either the top cover or the light kit, depending on your model.

9. Add the light fixture and plate cover

If your fan model comes with a built-in light, your next step will be to attach the light and secure the lightbulb. This process may differ slightly depending on your particular fan; generally, you will plug in the light attachment to the wired plug and then screw in your light kit. Screw in the lightbulb and attach the cover that goes over the light. If your fan has a pull chain, clip it into place so your fan is ready for use.

10. Turn the power back on

Once you have finished installing your fan, turn the power back on so you can see how the fan works. Go back to your electrical box and flip on the power for your targeted room, then turn on the wall switch to see if your fan works properly. If your fan has a remote control, put batteries in it and test the ceiling fan remote.


How to find the right ceiling fan for your space

As mentioned previously, the size and placement of your ceiling fan will impact its ability to circulate air and generate a breeze. Here are some rules of thumb to keep in mind when choosing your fan size.

  • If the room is smaller than 75 square feet, keep your blade span less than 36 inches.
  • If the room is between 75 and 225 square feet, look for a fan that falls between 36 and 42 inches wide.
  • If your room is larger than 225 square feet, look for ceiling fan blades that run 50 to 54 inches. 

In addition to considering the fan blade span, consider the fan placement in relation to the floor and ceiling. Aim to have your fan circulate between 7 and 10 feet from the floor. Make sure it’s at least 8 inches from the ceiling and 1½ feet from any given wall or sloped ceiling. 

As you look at your fan size, examine how much air your fan can carry within a given space. The amount of air a fan can handle is measured in cfm, or cubic feet per minute. Typically, fan ratings will fall between 2,000 and 10,000 cfm. Most people with a moderate-size room will want a fan with at least a 4,500 cfm capacity. Fans with a higher cfm rating will generally have stronger, more reliable motors.


Frequently asked questions

As we discuss the installation of ceiling fans, we often find that customers have some common questions. We will explore some of these frequently asked questions to help you install your ceiling fan effectively. 

Can I change a ceiling fan myself?

Yes, many homeowners can change a ceiling fan as part of a DIY project. To succeed in this project, however, you need to have a few hours to undertake the project and be comfortable working with electricity and wiring fixtures. Those who do not feel confident in their ability to take on these types of projects may find it easiest to hire a contractor, licensed electrician or handyperson to help install their fan. 

Do you need an electrician to remove a ceiling fan?

Most homeowners will not require an electrician to remove a ceiling fan. However, there are times when this type of professional may be helpful. Contact a professional if you notice problems with your ceiling fan wiring as you begin removing your old ceiling fan. Similarly, calling in a professional can help if you are not comfortable untwisting wires and working directly with electricity.

How much does it cost to replace a ceiling fan?

The cost of replacing a ceiling fan will vary depending on factors like how much work you did yourself and the cost of the model you purchased. The average cost for self-installation is between $88 and $196, according to HomeAdvisor.


Discover how Cinch home protection plans cover ceiling fans

Once you get your ceiling fan installed, you want to ensure that it’ll continue to work well for years to come. Fortunately, a home protection plan from Cinch Home Services can help you protect your fans, including parts and components. It has never been easier to ensure your ceiling fan is properly maintained. If a covered problem arises with your fan, call Cinch to help you set up a visit from a vetted, qualified technician who can determine the potential problem and how to fix it. 

Learn more about what Cinch can do for you and see if one of our plans is a good fit for your home. Get an instant quote today!


Learn more about installing ceiling fans and what requirements to keep in mind as you select one for your home.

Your home protection is ready and waiting!