My summer vacation just started. As I said the other day, I have a few goals and a Honey Do list from my Honey. So, I have been estudiando mis español and yesterday I installed a ceiling fan in the master bedroom.
Okay, so here’s why I am NOT a handyman. This is, I think, also a great example of Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences, which basically says that everyone is smart about something. In this case, I clearly do not possess the kind of intelligence that makes working around the house easy. But, I am, at least, smart enough to get the job done. Eventually. More or less.
How long do you think it should take to install a ceiling fan? A couple hours, right? So, here’s how that went for me.
10:00 a.m.: Carry the box upstairs to the room. Begin unboxing. I carefully check the parts and start looking at the instructions, getting an idea for how to put the thing together. It appears to make sense. I start paying special attention to the mount and how to attach it to the ceiling. I also begin surveying the ceiling in earnest. We want it to go over the bed.
11:00 a.m.: I have my tools and my ladder upstairs. I go up to the attic and look around. By attic I mean a ridiculously small crawlspace at the top of the house. Seriously, it’s not an attic that I’m familiar with. It’s useless to use a way to wire things like, say, ceiling fans. The builders didn’t think having overhead lights, or power in the ceiling for that matter, was important. In any of the rooms.
12:00 p.m.: I have given up on the idea of bringing power from the ceiling. It’s just not going to happen. I mean, it could happen if I wanted to do all kinds of cutting and patching of wallboard, which I don’t. So, I move the bed over, get up on the ladder and use my trusty stud finder to find a stud. There’s a sprinkler system installed in the ceiling which could complicate things. Usually those are installed next to a stud. That’s kind of helpful. The ceiling in my bedroom is peaked and follows the actual roofline of the house. I’m guessing that there’s a foot to six inches clearance, and insulation, between the ceiling wallboard and our roof. I find that there are trusses running east to west in the room. But, neither of the ones closest to center are, well, centered.
This sucks. I need it in the center. My Honey seriously needs it the center. She’s not gonna be happy if it’s not centered. So, can I find a stud that goes crossways? No.
Sigh. My stud finder indicates a stud that doesn’t exist that leaves me with a hole in my ceiling (an inch square) to patch. Finally, I consult with my Honey and we decide that an off-center ceiling fan is acceptable and we rationalize that it adds character.
1:00 p.m. I go to Home Depot. I need to get something to bring power from the outlet on the wall to the fan. I have decided to use some cable and just plug it in. I considered trying to tie in to the outlet and run power up the wall and through the ceiling and decided that was as bad as what I was thinking two hours earlier. So, I buy a lamp cord that is 15′ long. I’ve measured and the fan is five feet from the wall and the ceiling is eight feet high there. That should leave me with 2 feet to spare. So, lamp cord. Simple, right? Yeah, but first I spend about 15 minutes in the electrical aisle looking at cable, looking for a prong plug you can attach (didn’t find it) walking over to the ceiling fan aisle, getting the lamp cord, back over to the electrical aisle again and looking again and finally deciding the lamp cord is what I’m going to go with.
Now I need something that will make the cord not look like a yellow lamp cord. I find some cable conduit/channel and begin the process of figuring out how much I need and which kind. Plastic? Well, it’s light. But, it attaches with tape. That will never stick to my uneven wall surface. That’s a recipe for me being completely pissed off when it falls, hits the blades and ruins everything. No go. Metal. Hmm, sturdy, a bit more industrial than I wanted. Paintable? Not sure. But, wait, a middle ground! A plastic channel that uses drywall anchors and screws to attach to the wall. It’s paintable and might just work. Having decided, I go about choosing the parts I need including anchors, a right angle inside corner, some things that hide the joints, and the channels themselves. Done.
Wait, now I need something to cut the channels. I know that I have a hacksaw and a Dremel. But, what if I had snips? That might make this easier (and given that I might be doing a similar job in other rooms, I think the snips a wise investment) to cut cleanly. Okay, so off to the tool area. Good God, there’s a lot of snips!!! Shop shears, aviation snips, all purpose snips. Great. I spend 15 minutes reading the packages and settle on a small pair of snips.
Fortunately it doesn’t take me near as long to buy a pair of work gloves. I need gloves because I’m a city boy with weak hands and the gloves allow me to do more since they protect me from bleeding. Bleeding is usually a prerequisite to finishing any job like this, but since I started using gloves I have been able to leave that part of the ritual out.
Okay, I have my lamp cord, channels, snips, and gloves. That only took an hour.
2:00 p.m.: I eat lunch.
3:00 p.m.: I pick up my kids from their mother’s house. I get home, go back to work. The mount gets attached to the ceiling and then I have to wire the thing. I spend the next 20 minutes reading the internet about polarized plugs and which is the hot side. The hot side is the narrow prong, by the way. You’re welcome. I check the wire carefully. It’s got little tiny writing on the wide plug side. That’s the common side. Got it. Finally, I wire the power cord to the fan, I wire up the remote receiver. I wire up the light. All done.
4:00 p.m.: The fan goes up. We get screws tightened. Then, put together the blades, screw them up to the fan engine. Oh, I patched the holes in the ceiling, too. All blades on, removed screws from balancing system, done. Attach light and canopy. Done.
5:00 p.m. Working on the cable. I have to get it straight. Use a laser pointer thing for making straight lines. install drywall anchors, screw bottom of channel to ceiling, use clips to hold cable in. Snip shorter piece to complete distance to wall. Now, down the wall. Keep it straight. Anchors, screws, cable. Snip another shorter piece to complete the distance to plug. Plug in the fan. It’s turning.
How long did all of that take? Two hours. Yes. Two.
I finished the whole job, cleaned up, vacuumed the drywall and insulation on the floor. Threw away the trash, put away my tools and ladder by 7pm. And, I was beat.
But, last night, man, it was nice being under that fan. I might be smart about some things. But, do it yourself stuff around the house? Not so much.
The garbage disposal replacement only took about an hour and a half. That was easier. Later, I’m replacing a bathroom faucet. Then, we reorganize the closet.