Hire a Pro Advice: Install a Ceiling Fan

Get help finding an electrician to install a ceiling fan with advice about what should be in a written contract with an electrician. You'll find some ideas about choosing one that's right for your style and room.

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

If there's no electrical outlet near where you want to install a ceiling fan, a new electrical run must be added to the main line. That's definitely a job for an electrician.

A pro is a good choice if the fan you choose is in any way complicated and you want additional features, such as a light fixture, dimmer control for the light, a remote control unit, a fan and light wall control and fan speed and light controls.

To find an electrician, ask friends and neighbors for a referral or use the Yellow Pages or an online contractor referral service. Another option is to buy the ceiling fan at a home or lighting center where an installation service is offered. Usually there's a tag on the fixture as the "installed price" that is in addition to the cash-and-carry price that covers installation. The retailer arranges for an electrician to do the installation and is responsible for both the scheduling of the job, and of course, your satisfaction.

In either case, be assured that the electrician who does the installation is licensed and bonded and that his work meets the standards of the local building codes. Hire a licensed electrician who is responsible for the workmanship and quality of his or her workers. There are two levels of electricians: master and journeyman. A master electrician knows the National Electrical Code and any state requirements, has passed a test and has at least two years experience. A master electrician is qualified to plan, design, install and maintain electrical systems. A journeyman electrician is licensed by the state to install wiring and equipment. Some states require that a journeyman work with a master electrician. This license may be revoked if the electrician has a history of doing shoddy work. Always hire a licensed electrician because they take pride in their work and value their licenses. And remember, if you are hiring an unlicensed electrician to do a side job or work on the weekends, you don't have much recourse if the work is unsatisfactory.

To evaluate an electrician's workmanship, look at the electrical outlets and switch plate installations on walls. They should lie flat on the surface of the wall and be plumb and square, not tilted. Wires and cables should run straight into the service panel, not be tangled or crossed. All wires should be attached firmly to the framing at regular intervals. You can check for this in areas where the wires are exposed, such as in the basement or attic.

Here are the basic points that should be included in a written contract with an electrician to install a ceiling fan:

  • Description of the work to be completed with a detailed list about the ceiling fan (brand name, style, color of fan, or other specifications of the exact material) to be used
  • Cost of material and all warranties from the manufacturer
  • Cost of labor and amount of deposit, if required
  • Job installation date

Ceiling fans have made their way from sultry Casablanca into every room in today's busy households. For decorative purposes, a fan creates a smashing focal point in an otherwise ordinary room. Whether it's a colorful contemporary design for a kid's room or a rich wood and brass fixture in a more traditional setting, a ceiling fan is an attractive addition to any room.

But a ceiling fan does more than make a room look good. It does a topnotch job of improving air circulation, which helps lower electric and heating bills. A fan pushes down warm, heated air that rises to the ceiling so it circulates throughout a room. During warm months, a fan pulls cooled air up and moves it through the room so it feels more comfortable. It's particularly effective for folks who live in a three-season climate, where the fan is used often.

But fans aren't limited to the indoors. You'll find a large selection of outdoor fans suitable for porches, gazebos and covered patios and balconies. Traditionally, fans are installed in the center of a flat ceiling, but there is mounting hardware for a vaulted or angled ceiling.