Looking for advice on removing ceiling fan

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.

SteveH aka shetc

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jul 28, 2013
Messages
3,136
Reaction score
5,631
Hi All, it's yet another question on how to remove some ancient piece of equipment installed in my house. This time it's a flush mounted Home Depot fan, installed around 2000. I've basically taken it to pieces but still can't figure out how it is attached to the ceiling. There are no screws on the upper part, so I was thinking that maybe it twists off. It twists like a 1/4 turn but still doesn't release. Here are a couple of photos:

fan1.jpg
fan2.jpg

Any suggestions would be most appreciated!
 
Looks like you'll need to loosen the nut and set screw above the motor, which should allow the upper parts to move down exposing the connection at the top.

Good idea: flip off the relevant circuit breaker first. Good luck with this project.
 
Looks like you'll need to loosen the nut and set screw above the motor, which should allow the upper parts to move down exposing the connection at the top.

Good idea: flip off the relevant circuit breaker first. Good luck with this project.
I tried a couple of times to loosen the nut and screw but there's not a lot of working space under the canopy. Any idea what tool I should use for the nut? (Yes, I've been flipping the circuit breaker off :) )
 
I'd try the correct size channellocks. They are better than pliers for stuff like that because the grip part is angled and adjustable and the handles are longer so you can angle that thing up in that space and try to get a grip on it.. If may gouge the nut but if you are junking the fan after removal, and just trying to get it off there, its no big deal. I always take those fan motors up to the scrap yard when I turn in aluminum cans, ferrous metals, brass etc. They will give you money for the motors just like the other metals and it's keeps them out of landfills.
 
I'd try the correct size channellocks. They are better than pliers for stuff like that because the grip part is angled and adjustable and the handles are longer so you can angle that thing up in that space and try to get a grip on it.. If may gouge the nut but if you are junking the fan after removal, and just trying to get it off there, its no big deal. I always take those fan motors up to the scrap yard when I turn in aluminum cans, ferrous metals, brass etc. They will give you money for the motors just like the other metals and it's keeps them out of landfills.
I have some channel-locks. With the help of WD-40, I was finally able to get the set screw undone, Unfortunately, getting the motor detached did not help. I think the dang canopy is screwed on from the top piece above it, which is flush against the ceiling - see the highlighted ends of what must be screws. I chatted with a Home Depot customer service rep who was able to find the fan in their database. Originally made by the TAL company using the Hampton Bay label - I wrote to them to see what advice they have.
fan3.jpg
 
If I didn't know any better, I'd say someone installed that big dome upside down. Though with the screened vents up top, that may be how it was supposed to be.

The fact that you can twist it about 1/4 turn tells me that may be key to its removal. Try rocking/shimmying it around after turning it. There may be a T hanger and slot that needs to get lined up to drop it down?
 
Geez, I would try getting the piece above it off (the bowl shaped piece resting against the ceiling). Can you push in the knock out plug with a screw driver (breaker off of course) , and peek in there to see whats up? It may give you an idea how to proceed. Does the upper piece (the bowl shaped piece resting against the ceiling) turn at all if you try to spin it?
I have hampton Bays in my house.
 
I chatted with a Home Depot customer service rep who was able to find the fan in their database.
If he found the fan in the database then he should have found the installation instructions too. Not to go all Captain Obvious or anything, but reverse the installation steps.

I think you need to be looking at the piece that's flush to the ceiling.
 
If he found the fan in the database then he should have found the installation instructions too. Not to go all Captain Obvious or anything, but reverse the installation steps.

I think you need to be looking at the piece that's flush to the ceiling.
They didn't have the instructions. Further, apparently the TAL company did not manufacture the fan. According to them, the SMC of Hong Kong made it - unfortunately, their contact web page fails :mad:
 
In that top housing that's against the ceiling, looks to be a small knockout. With the power out and the motor removed, tap that knockout with a hammer and screwdriver and see if you can look inside with a flashlight. There should be a 4x4" electrical box in the ceiling and some kind of hanger strap across the box that the fan assembly is attached to. There might be a bezel nut you can get at or way to loosen the hanger strap.

As for those 3 bolts you highlighted with red boxes, those might just be what attaches the lower housing to the upper one. You could try drilling out those bolts to release the bottom housing. That might yield a bigger hole to get inside the upper part.
 
Thanks! Going to try that next but taking a time out to get my blood pressure down :D
And maybe stick a junk screwdriver in the set screw hole for some extra torque or to keep it from rotating. I've taken old ones that size down but not recently. I can remember a housing of some kind that worked like that but can't recall if it was a ceiling fan.

I put a new one up recently and it seems they are a little easier to install then in the past in that they made it easier to get the motor on more quickly and securely. Hope the new one goes in easy!
 
In that top housing that's against the ceiling, looks to be a small knockout. With the power out and the motor removed, tap that knockout with a hammer and screwdriver and see if you can look inside with a flashlight. There should be a 4x4" electrical box in the ceiling and some kind of hanger strap across the box that the fan assembly is attached to. There might be a bezel nut you can get at or way to loosen the hanger strap.

As for those 3 bolts you highlighted with red boxes, those might just be what attaches the lower housing to the upper one. You could try drilling out those bolts to release the bottom housing. That might yield a bigger hole to get inside the upper part.
Yeah, I think you are right, surgery is required. I assumed the knock out would already out if it had been used for some purpose, but getting some kind of view makes sense. What type of bit do you recommend for drilling out the screws?
 
And maybe stick a junk screwdriver in the set screw hole for some extra torque or to keep it from rotating. I've taken old ones that size down but not recently. I can remember a housing of some kind that worked like that but can't recall if it was a ceiling fan.

I put a new one up recently and it seems they are a little easier to install then in the past in that they made it easier to get the motor on more quickly and securely. Hope the new one goes in easy!
Thanks! I've done a bunch in my previous house. The old fans were heavier but they weren't some dang hard to get loose.
 
Tried getting that loose without going to crazy but it's pretty stuck in place. It's plastic so I may attempt to cut it out. So much for a simple fan removal.
Sounds like some weekend warrior might have glued/caulked it in place or it's just stuck. Get that guy off and all your problems are solved. You're welcome...please name your next beer after me.
 
Yeah, I think you are right, surgery is required. I assumed the knock out would already out if it had been used for some purpose, but getting some kind of view makes sense. What type of bit do you recommend for drilling out the screws?

You can use a regular twist bit. Drill slowly and use some light oil to keep it from overheating.
 
I wanted the fan/light down because I couldn't figure out what the heck was going on with the switches used with it. Here are the switches:
fan6.jpg

On the right is a single-pole switch with an unused neutral wire, and on the left is an in-the-wall remote control (WTF!). Though the switch is live, it controls none of the outlets in the room nor the ceiling fixture. The remote control has the usual 3 speed settings to control the fan. However, the light button only controls a low and high setting for the bulbs, which must be turned on/off using the pull cord.

Here are the electrical connections for the fan/light.
fan5.jpg

Can someone explain what is going on here, especially why I have a switch to nowhere?
 
It's a wireless control for fans only wired with a hot and neutral. Otherwise, you'd have a hot for the light and one for the fan.

Switches don't normally use a neutral - just open and close the hot. It might have been used before the fan was installed. Hard to know without tracing it.

The switch could have originally gone to one side of an outlet. If the outlet was replaced since and the hot tab not broken, the switch would do nothing.
 
Last edited:
It's a wireless control for fans only wired with a hot and neutral. Otherwise, you'd have a hot for the light and one for the fan.

Switches don't normally use a neutral - just open and close the hot. It might have been used before the fan was installed. Hard to know without tracing it.

The switch could have originally gone to one side of an outlet. If the outlet was replaced since and the hot tab not broken, the switch would do nothing.
Crazy. I was hoping to control the fan and lights with some kind of plain old slider+switch combo where the current switch is. I guess I can replace the fixture with a smart fan/light that uses a remote plus wifi? If the outlet boxes are not easy to remove then it will be difficult to search for the line controlled by the switch. Plus I have a useless switch on the wall.
 
When a fan is a retro-fit where there was only a lamp fixture, what you see is what you got. But if you pay enough you can buy ceiling fan models that come with a remote that controls both the fan speed and accessory lights if installed (they're usually available as an add-on to a base fan).

fwiw, I installed ceiling fans in all of our bedrooms and office and great room where there were no ceiling light fixtures. I simply ran hot wires to the fan controllers hidden in the ceiling mount skirts and control them using their remotes, including on/off control of their lights...

Cheers!
 
If you’re trying to have a fan and light both operated from a wall switch you’ll need 2 hots going from switch to fixture. I’ve done this in several rooms in my house. Some fan/ lights are not able to operate this way and some can be modified to operate this way without using the remote. Probably best to call an electrician.
 
So as FloppyKnockers mentioned, you don't have the hot in the ceiling for the fan. And day_trippr has provided a common solution. When I rewired my house, I put in the extra hot wire for 2 out of 3 of the rooms with fans as I didn't know to use 12/3 wire when I did the kitchen. All the smart switches I have added need a neutral and I think that is standard. You have a neutral in the box. It's not clear what's behind the plate. It would be helpful to see behind the switchplate to see what wires come in and out. That switchplate looks made for that radio switch, and perhaps the junction box was an "old work" style and they cut out the space for it from a single gang switch? The receiver in the ceiling probably was wired for either a hot for the fan too (the three unused wires) or just for the light (two wires used). I've seen a number of switches that do that. What's odd to me is that the switch is hot. Floppyknockers could be correct that it controlled an outlet at some point. Code is either a light switch operating an overhead light or a switched outlet for a lamp. So if it was a switched outlet originally, and then they changed it out, there's a plug somewhere where there's an extra incoming power supply from the switch and it would be capped off. But people do stupid things so they could have buried it in a wall or something, never count out a clueless homeowner when it comes to the electric. Now if there was a switched lamp, that ceiling box was probably not there. Maybe they had an easy box to run power from to a new ceiling box but didn't want to run it through the wall to a wall switch. Like perhaps they would have had to cross the ceiling joists to get to the wall where the switch is. That can be something of a ***** to do, I try to avoid it but it can be done with a long flexible bit, judicious holes, and fiberglass tape and spackle. What's above the ceiling? An attic could be easy to get power to where the fan was but also probably easy to get to the wall switch. An upstairs room, maybe an outlet lined up with the bay that the fan was in and they dropped a line through.

I'd first be sure about where the power comes from to the ceiling box and figure out where that switch went. You could check the outlets around the room, and it's possible there was more than one on the switch. I ran a three way switch in our living room to two outlets for two lamps. I didn't bother to separate each dual outlet so that one outlet was powered all the time, it was already complicated enough for me! And be sure you've got the right breakers off! Electricians think outside the room. Three different circuit breakers controlled the power in my living room. Imagine the house is just framed out without walls. That's where the electrician was working. And the homeowner can really muck it up after that!

Just some possibilities without having complete information, there could be other possibilities as well.
 
It's not clear what's behind the plate. It would be helpful to see behind the switchplate to see what wires come in and out.

What's above the ceiling?

Just for completeness, below is a snapshot of the switch wiring. I just went upstairs to check the bedroom that is above my office. That bedroom has 2 wall switches to control a fan and its lights. Here's the ironic part: the bedroom has the same fan/light fixture as my office, and, for some reason, the freaking ring is not secured in place, so I could have figured out how to loosen the one in my office 😖

For the office, I guess the easiest solution is a "smart" fan that controls both fan and lights via a remote or voice assistant. The wall switch to nowhere is annoying - is it a possible hazard?
fan7.jpg
 
The wall switch to nowhere is annoying - is it a possible hazard?

The mystery wire could perhaps be traced with a toner/tracer. Though intended for low-voltage cable work, this ($40 @ HomeBox) or similar could perhaps be adapted to do the job. There could be tools better suited to the task.

I'm not seeing a hazard.
 
There doesn't happen to be a red wire tucked up inside the ceiling light box by chance?

Three wire (with the red wire on the switch) is usually used for either two controllable hots for independent light/fan power or as part of a three-way switch circuit (which this doesn't appear to be).
 
For what it's worth; My dining room has a 2-gang box and when I bought the house it had one switch for the fan and the second switch for the light in the fan... I hated the fan and replaced it with a Hampton Bay unit that used a single switch for the whole shebang and had a remote to control the light and dimmer, fan speed and on/off. I still have the second light switch that goes to wires in the ceiling that now terminate with taped down marr connectors. I just haven't bothered to get rid of the redundant switch in case I ever swap it out for a different model that might need it.
:mug:
 
There doesn't happen to be a red wire tucked up inside the ceiling light box by chance?
Yeah, I think OP definitely needs to pull the rest of the fan wiring and get inside the ceiling box.
Three wire (with the red wire on the switch) is usually used for either two controllable hots for independent light/fan power or as part of a three-way switch circuit (which this doesn't appear to be).
Is there a blank switch plate on the other side of the room by any chance? Maybe it used to be a three-way switch circuit before it was a ceiling fan?
 
Yeah, I think OP definitely needs to pull the rest of the fan wiring and get inside the ceiling box.

Is there a blank switch plate on the other side of the room by any chance? Maybe it used to be a three-way switch circuit before it was a ceiling fan?
No red wire in the ceiling 😑 There is a blank plate but it is covering an old telephone connection.
 
There doesn't happen to be a red wire tucked up inside the ceiling light box by chance?

Three wire (with the red wire on the switch) is usually used for either two controllable hots for independent light/fan power or as part of a three-way switch circuit (which this doesn't appear to be).
No red line.
 
So what do you have in the ceiling? You said the switch is live, but if it really is a switch to nowhere that seems like a bad idea. That red wire has to go somewhere, and without knowing where I wouldn't want to energize it.
 
Back
Top