Not Quite as Planned

by laura.johnson

In preparation for the next heat wave that is due to settle over Michigan any day now, Cody and I attempted to tackle a project that was long overdue: installing a ceiling fan in our bedroom.  I know, I know, it’s no air conditioner, but it allows a little relief from the heat and  we don’t have to store it for 9 months a year. Bonus and bigger Bonus.

I had been eying a great online deal for a simple ceiling fan with light for $19.99, sweet!  But before I got 3 steps ahead of myself, I thought I’d drop in the store to see it in person. It seemed so dinky amidst all the fancier fans, and before you know it, I found myself an aisle over looking at ‘the next step up’.  As much as we all know the old sales tactic, it often does pay to look at a step above and a step below the advertised special. It highlights the features that come with this ‘oh-so-good-deal’.  In this case, an extra 20 bucks got us a better finish, additional light fixtures, reversible blades, and a remote control! Yep pack that baby up and send it home with me it’s sold!

I wish I could say installing the fan was just as easy and logical as purchasing one.  It’s not. Well at least it’s not if you live in a building built in 1929. That should have been our first clue.

However, the age of the internet makes anyone feel like they can be an expert on a subject in about 3 minutes, well at least that’s all it took for me.  After half of the Lowe’s instructional video I was sure Cody and I were going to be pros at this whole ceiling fan business!  That should have been my second clue.

First we prepped the space by clearing off our top bedding and agreeing that today would now become laundry day, eliminating the need for additional drop cloths. The next logical thing to do is turn off all electricity to the room at the breaker, or heck even the whole house.  However we don’t live in a house, and we are rarely logical, so we just taped down the light switch to prevent any hair-raising moments. Yes, a small amount of electricity can still be present, that’s why you should do what we suggested, not as we did.

We removed the old fixture, just like my good old Lowe’s friend showed us, but that is where the similarities end.  As it turns out Mr. Lowe’s was working on a current home with up-to-date electrical specifications, we were not.  His wires were small and came in pretty colors, ours looked like deep sea creatures.  He simply reached up and removed the light fixture bracket, while ours, we had one, but we couldn’t tell what it was connected to, if anything!  This was not looking good, but it already seemed like we had passed the point of no return.

We dreamed up all sort of bad ideas, using a metal plate for reinforcement, hanging the fan from the light fixture bracket, and yes, even worse ones.  As much as we loved Mr. Lowe’s, we needed advice from someone who knows old houses, Google, or more specifically This Old House via Google.  They broke down what type of electrical boxes are found in older homes and recommended a compatible upgrade for a ceiling fan mount.  He even showed us how to deal with our scary-creature-like wiring.

However, even armed with all of this helpful information, it still didn’t change our crucial issue of the missing electrical box or studs they are connected to.  Alas we gave up, partly out of fear of burning the place down, but mostly out of fear that our fan would awaken us in the middle of the night by falling on us, proceeding to chop up our feet. No heat wave can be that bad.

So yes, 2 and half hours later, we changed a few light bulbs and got rid of a dead bug, but we didn’t burn down the house.

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  1. Yup… I read the directions first….. it is hard to admit.

  2. You realize that directions are just another man’s opinion.

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