The Right Questions for your Ceiling Fan Installer
What questions should I ask my ceiling fan installer?
The main question you should ask your ceiling fan installer:
“What brands of ceiling fans have you installed before?” If your brand of ceiling fan isn’t in their top five, keep looking for a more experienced installer. There are other questions (below), but this is the easiest.
Ceiling Fan Expert
at Hansen Wholesale
Steve knows his ceiling fans. When you sell as many ceiling fans as Steve does, we hear all sorts of crazy stories. You can’t imagine how many ways a ceiling fan doesn’t work. Many times, it’s because the installer doesn’t know what they’re doing. And they never bothered to read the directions.
The Right Questions for your Ceiling Fan Installer
September 22nd, 2017
Many people in the trade who install ceiling fans are fantastic to work with! They’re good people, they can be extremely helpful, and they make sure you are happy with great service.
On the flip side, an unqualified ceiling fan installer will make your life miserable.
Many of us at Hansen Wholesale were ceiling fan installers or licensed electricians. We sell thousands of ceiling fans per year, so we’ve heard and seen it all.
The biggest problem we encounter by far, is ceiling fan installers that don’t know what they’re doing. Luckily, most ceiling fan installers do know what they’re doing, so we don’t hear as many problems as we could!
But, many people think installing one ceiling fan is the same as installing any other.
Hint: It’s not!
Our ceiling fans are on the high end. They’re extremely high quality. When something goes wrong, we want to hear about it. Each ceiling fan comes with written and visualized instructions. These aren’t the cheap fans you get at the local yokel shop. They’re high quality, well-built, and when installed properly, they’ll last for many, many, MANY years.
But so often we’ll hear from a customer they’re unhappy with the fan. It often turns out the fan had nothing to do with it! In talking to the installer, we fast realize they didn’t follow the directions.
Of course. They thought one of our high end fans was the same as the $80 contractor special from Home Depot.
There are a few things you can do to find out if your installer is any good before they start. There are questions you can ask to make sure they know what they’re doing before they mess up your beautiful new fan.
1) “What brands of ceiling fan do you normally install?”
If they’re regularly installing the cheap fans and don’t list any of the quality brands, walk away. It’s time to find another installer. High-end brands ought to come up in the top five of the list they give you. If brands that we sell (the best in the business) aren’t mentioned at all, it’s time to find another installer.
Every handyman and electrician will tell you, “oh yeah, I can install that kind of fan, no problem!” if you ask them point blank. But chances are they’ve never dealt with your kind of fan and they don’t know what’s involved. The procedures are a little bit different than the cheap fans. When they read the directions, it's very simple. So, if you have confidence in your ceiling fan installer even though they don’t install your kind of fan, that's fine. But at least make sure they read the instructions all the way through before beginning. And carefully.
2) “How would you handle an installation where no electrical is available?”
This is the one that sorts the wheat from the chaff. If you have a junction box right where the fan is going, and it’s a solid, reinforced ceiling, it should be easy. As long as you read the instructions completely, front-to-back. But a licensed electrician will know how to install a fan exactly where you want it. It shouldn't matter what the situation is. A couple of follow-up questions to ask are, “Do you fish wires?” and, “How do you patch?” If they seem uncomfortable answering either of these questions, it’s best to move on.
Another way to ask this question is, “How would you install a fan on a beam?” Give them a hypothetical: “The beam is four inches wide but the canopy is six inches. How would you handle that?”
Their answer indicates their level of expertise. First of all, if they tell you they can install a fan on a hollow beam, walk away. Hollow beams cannot support ceiling fans. Period.
When they say they’d run wires across the ceiling, they’re a pretty low level electrician. If they can fish wires to do your ceiling fan installation, they're probably pretty good. Now, if they would drill through the beam and fish wires through it, they’re usually a solid electrician. If they suggest that they will fashion a conical shape to go beside the beam, now you're on to something. This completes the look of the canopy to the ceiling, and shows they are a skilled craftsman also.
In order of least skilled to most skilled:
- Install a pancake box to the top of the ceiling fan canopy, run wires along the ceiling,
- Inlet pancake box into beam, drop wires run along ceiling or beam into ceiling fan canopy,
- Channel wires along beam into inletted pancake box above ceiling fan canopy, fish wires and drill through beam into inletted pancake box,
- Or, channel wires along the beam into the inletted pancake box above ceiling fan canopy, craft and attach parts of conical shapes to beam such that the ceiling fan canopy appears to be one peace with the beam,
- Best, channel wires through ceiling above beam into inletted pancake box above ceiling fan canopy such that no wires are visible from the room, craft, attach and stain or paint parts of conical shape to beam such that the ceiling fan canopy appears to be one peace with the beam.
3) “Are you a licensed electrician?”
Look, it’s entirely okay for a skilled DIYer, handyman, or appliance installer to handle our fans. If you’ve done electrical work or hung a ceiling fan yourself, you’re probably just fine. But definitely read the directions!
Another way to ask this question is to find out if they pull permits. Most will tell you they are licensed whether they are or not. And they may not need permits to do the work, but if they are able to get permits, they are usually licensed. If they do not routinely pull permits for jobs (or cannot), that’s a red flag they are not licensed in your area.
So long as your installer is upstanding and honest and they read the directions, you should be fine. They’ll tell you after one look at the book if they’re in over their head. If it is more than a simple install, you're best to find a licensed electrician. You're looking for a trades person who has installed many, many high-end fans through the years.
4) Get it in writing.
This is always a good idea, but almost nobody ever does this. Get your electrician or installer to put their service contract in writing. Make sure you’re comfortable with the contract.
Along this line, let's talk about your situation if you have a contractor doing your remodel or new build. They should be comfortable adding ceiling fans installation to their service contract. When you have it in writing, you have something to go back to just in case something goes wrong.
Again, you don’t have to do this, but it’s such a good idea. When you have your electrician’s word on paper that they know how to install your fan, it's good for you. Have them include programming its remote control, too. If something goes awry, you have a signed document protecting you from major problems.
5) How do you balance a fan?
This should be simple - they shouldn’t ever have to balance a fan. They come perfectly balanced. But if they do something to put the fan out of balance during installation, they need to fix it. If they tell you they don’t balance fans, they don’t have enough experience. Move along and find another ceiling fan installer.
Finally: Trust your gut.
If you feel uneasy about your ceiling fan installer, it’s usually best to stop there and find somebody else. Understand, there are thousands of great ceiling fan installers all over the country. Don’t get stuck with one of the few bad ones! Take your time and set yourself up for success.
Trouble Sign: “My product is better, you should buy that.”
No. No, no it’s not. They’re just trying to sell you something. Ten times out of ten, their product is not better. But if you want to give them a shot, go ahead and give us a call with the product they’re trying to sell you. If we know the brand, we’ll be able to give you an honest, third party assessment that brand. Most likely, it’s a cheap brand they can sell you for a bit of mark-up to put some cash in their own pockets.
Thanks for coming by. I hope this helps!
Ceiling Fan Installer / Installation Expert, Hansen Wholesale