TB 3, Ceiling Fan 2

Well, I wanted to save this until I could post some relevant photos, but at this point I’m doubtful that we’ll have time to upload the photos before we leave. So what the hell, I’m gonna run with it and I’ll update later with photos.

The crux of the matter is: we have a working ceiling fan! Woohoo!

After a long week of self-recrimination and debate about what to do next, up to an including liberal application of sledgehammer, we finally decided that Sunday was going to be a day of attacking the fan again. I had to make a quick Home Depot run for a few other things to continue with the deck – especially a chalk line, since we discovered that my method of measuring the height of the handrails from the decking wouldn’t work. (Turns out there’s a 1″ drop in the level of the deck over 16 feet – imperceptible walking on it, but one rail being half an inch lower than the one next to it is indeed perceptible.) Anyway, we figured I might as well grab parts for the fan job while I was there.

Finally we broke down and called our usual electrician at 9am on Sunday morning. Amazingly, he didn’t mind, but he wasn’t about to come over for a house call. (He’s Dys’s dad, a professional commercial electrician, and sadly he lives about 600 miles away.) He suggested the same thing my dad did – namely, go with some self-tapping screws into the existing box. Well, okay, we said. May as well give it a shot.

So I went to Home Depot and grabbed a chalk line. And a small sander for the handrails, and a piece of lattice, and a few other odds and ends. On a hunch, I grabbed one of the fan support braces that MTAE suggested in his comment. I did it to try to psyche out Murphy’s Law – if I had it, maybe Murphy would try to screw me into not needing it. It was $12, it was worth it to me to have to return the bastard to have a little mystical help. And finally after about 15 minutes of hunting high and low amongst the thousand-and-one little baggies of screws in the hardware section, I found the 1 ½” #10 self-tapping screws I was looking for.

Anyway, I got back home, ate lunch, and immediately went to work on the fan. As I told Dys, I just wasn’t going to rest until I knew it was going to work or not.

I pulled the bracket down and carefully screwed in the self-tapping screws. Except whoops, I forgot the washers. So I carefully unscrewed them and screwed them back in. Shit! One of the rubber isolation pads between the bracket and the ceiling was out of position. At this point I was afraid of re-stripping the damned hole in the ceiling box, so I was partially freaked. I unscrewed them again, fixed the isolation pad, and put it all back. I looked. I crossed my fingers and prayed to the home improvement gods. I pondered burning incense. And then I pulled a bit on the bracket.

Solid as bedrock.

Awesome.

So we proceeded to wire the sumbitch up, having had several rounds of practice as we kept fucking with it earlier. We were also wiring in one of those add-on remote control kits, since our fan in the other room (our former bedroom) had a remote and we’ve gotten spoiled. No big deal, it’s just another layer of complication and something else to tuck out of the way as we put everything together. Luckily, the wise people at Hunter ceiling fans put a little hook on the bracket and a hole at the base of the fan so you can hang the big fan motor from the hook while you wire it instead of having to have someone hold it up . Good call, Hunter!

I finished twisting wire nuts, and together we grabbed the big heavy-ass motor and placed it on a bracket. Offering up more prayers to the home improvement gods, we twisted it on the bracket. It worked! It didn’t even look too shitty! WOOHOO!

I put the decorative trim ring over the slots where it twisted onto the bracket. Dys began assembling fan blades. I noticed that I’d forgotten to use the screws to attach the fan to the bracket. After some debate, we decided (well, Dys did most of the deciding) to pull the trim ring down again and screw the sucker in like we’d intended. Dys took a few pictures of the process for you guys.

That little trim ring was a bitch. After five minutes of pushing here and pulling there with my fingertips against the ceiling, I managed to get it off and screw in the three tiny little screws. Then with a click I put the trim ring back into place. By this time, Dys was basically ready to start handing me fan blades. Before we started putting them on, we decided to test it. So I ran downstairs to flip the breaker. Hmm. Nothing. But we could hear the remote sensor clicking, so clearly it was getting power. Maybe the fan doesn’t engage until you’ve got the light kit plugged in? Oh well. We moved on.

(Clever readers are already covering their eyes.)

So we installed the blades, then hung the light kit. No big problem, just a little time and a few turns of a screwdriver. We put the bulbs on, and I ran downstairs again to flip the breaker back on. I ran upstairs. Dys hit the button.

Nothing.

She tried again. “Well, maybe I did wire the “fan” button to the “light” wire. Try the other one.”

She did. Nothing. She hit every damned combination of buttons on that remote, to no avail. We could hear the receiver clicking, but nothing was happening.

“Oh shit,” she said. “We wired it wrong.”
“Fuck me,” I said. Or words to that effect. That was the summation, at least. “Well, I’ll start tearing everything apart again.”
So I went back downstairs, flipped the breaker off, and went back upstairs. Dys showed me the picture of the fan she’d taken with her hand in the foreground doing a “thumbs down.” “I thought it needed a visual,” she said.

I pulled off the light kit, unscrewed all five blades, and was fidding with the trim ring. “You know,” I said, “a smart man would have learned from that prior experience not to put this little fucker back in place before we knew the whole thing worked.”

Dys was busily reading the manual. She stopped, and looked up. She read from the manual. “The light switch must be on, and the fan switch must be on ‘high’.”

I stopped what I was doing and looked at her. She looked right back at me. “We forgot to turn on the fucking pull chains, didn’t we?” “Yep.”

Back goes the light kit. Screw the blades for now. Dys says, “Man, I’ll feel like an asshole if this works, but I sure hope this proves that we’re assholes.” “Yeah, me too.”

I went back downstairs. “Screw waiting for you,” she says, “I can tell you the light’s working through the floor.” “Fine by me.”

I flipped the breaker. A muffled “WOOHOO!” filters through the floor.

I flipped the breaker back off, ran back upstairs (again), pulled the light kit off again, re-installed the blades and the light and the globe (the latter carefully with Dys’s help). Back downstairs to the breaker, and back up again for the Big Finale.

Dys pushed the button. And there was light.

She pushed another button. There was movement!

Fucker worked! WOOHOO! WE’RE JUST ASSHOLES!!!

I turned to her and said, “You are so getting fucked tonight.” [Ed: Didn’t end up happening, but that’s okay.]

But for a while there, right after we were done, we just flopped down on the bed and laid there looking at our nice, new, freakin’ quiet! Woohoo! fan.

Thanks to MTAE for the advice, to Laura for showing me I’m not alone (damn, that was funny!), and to all y’all for the encouragement on the other post. And of course to our fathers, respectively, for the phone calls.

I no longer have bare wires hanging from my ceiling – all is well!

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6 Responses

  1. What the HECK is it about ceiling fans, anyway??? We’re going to have to replace the one in my step-daughter’s room, because it’s just a fan and not a light, and since she moved out she took the lamps with her so there’s no light at all in her room. Though at this point, and after reading your saga and remembering my own, perhaps I should just buy a frikkin lamp. 😀

    Hell yes, lamps are good, lamps are your friend!!

  2. “Fucker worked!”

    ’nuff said. At least you won’t have that one hanging over your head (no pun intended) while you are gone on your trip!

    Damn straight. It’s bad enough leaving my deck half-finished, but having my parents come in to stay with my son and leaving bare wires hanging from the ceiling would have had me feeling just wretched. My dad would have never left shit half-done like that if he could help it!

  3. You’re assholes…with a working ceiling fan!!!! WOOOHOOO!!!!!!

    I knew you guys could do it! 🙂

    I’m just glad we didn’t have to resort to knockin’ holes in the wall or calling an electrician. Or at least not a local electrician who would actually charge us. 😀

  4. Wow, I’m just impressed that you got it working at all. You are speaking to someone whose partner has been “installing” our new kitchen since the start of last November. Procrastination is the name of the game in our house!!! 😀

    Well done!!!

    Well, I think I’ll have the deck done by Halloween… 😉

  5. I am very happy for you.

    “to have a little mystical help”

    This could have been a way obscure MST3K reference. And I wouldn’t put it past you. But I’m guessing you were talking about Murphy’s Law being mystical. Yes?

    Correct. Or that mystical powers need to be invoked if Murphy is to be counteracted.

    Too bad, I wish I could claim the MST3K reference for my cool quotient, but I just can’t.

  6. Woo-fuckin-hoo! Good job on getting the fan up and working.

    [Elvis]Wuhlthankyaver’much.[/Elvis]

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