"Vintage" Ceiling Work Box Weight Limit

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  #1  
Old 05-23-20, 12:15 AM
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"Vintage" Ceiling Work Box Weight Limit

Hi Everyone,

First time poster but I like what I see on the forum so I'm hoping to stick around for more learning.

I'm certain this sub-forum gets tired of this question, but I have a 1958 house with a ceiling work box in what I would consider original installation electrical equipment due to the style and wiring (image attached). I want to attach a 15lb, non-lighted ceiling fan to the box but I am uncertain how much the box will hold. I pulled the center screw (image attached), which was only 1/4" long, and the box could wiggle just a touch, which makes me think it is sitting on the ceiling and not secured to a rafter.
Going into the attic to check the box is futile as all of my room boxes are buried under two feet or so of loose material insulation.

I'd rather not pull these old boxes (I have three new ceiling fans to do) to install a box with brackets as I'm certain the insulation will go everywhere.

So, my two questions are:
  1. Would you trust these boxes to hold a fan or replace them with proper ceiling fan boxes?
  2. Is there a way to replace the boxes with a mountain of insulation falling down?
Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 05-23-20, 02:36 AM
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I would not trust these boxes, You need fan rated boxes. It's not just the fastening of the box to the joist, it's also the screws that hold the fan to the box.
 
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Old 05-23-20, 04:28 AM
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Looks like the boxes are mounted on something like the following
https://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl...MQMygfegQIARBJ

It could be that it is just the mount bolt hole piece is loose on the strap and that is why the box wiggles a bit.
The strap itself may be solid.
The problem is that you do not know how the strap is attached to the ceiling joists or how strong it is.
So mounting a fan to it is a rather large gamble even if you could attach the box to the strap more solidly.
 
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Old 05-23-20, 04:52 AM
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As much as it's possibly the box it's also what it's attaching to that is important. Fans induce small vibrations so anything sub standard could, and we just dont know, cause it to fail.

Hopefully this is access above where you can check the condition of the structure it's attached too. If not then one option is an extending box but the conditions/locations have to be correct!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKWeyydoYTI
 
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Old 05-23-20, 05:50 AM
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I agree with the others. Even though the fan is lightweight, the constant movement is likely to loosen any screws or nails that might be holding it up.

Installing a fan box is pretty easy. Loose fill insulation won't pour out like rice. It is all pretty much 'stuck' together, so while you may have to push back up a fistful or two, you shouldn't lose much at all through that hole. And with the old work fan boxes, you shouldn't need to remove any drywall/plaster (other than maybe to enlarge the box to the correct size possibly).
 
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Old 05-24-20, 10:36 AM
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Hi everyone and thanks for the replies.
They were in line with exactly what I suspected. I'll pull the old boxes and see what I can find out then go the fan box and brace bar route. If anything exciting jumps out, I'll post back to complete the circle of information.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 11:04 AM
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Yes.... that's an old bar box. The best way to handle that is to try to get the bar out. Based on the age of the house.... it will not be easy to remove that bar. It's going to be held in with short nails or RX staples.

The reason it needs to be removed is that your new fan box has it's own expanding bar that will replace what is there. The job is much easier if the hole is closer to a joist.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 01:16 PM
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that's an old bar box. The best way to handle that is to try to get the bar out. Based on the age of the house.... it will not be easy to remove that bar.
Well, this potentially changes things. So, @Pjmax, if this is a bar box, secured into a joist, shouldn't it hold the fan and keep it secure as it operates? What would be the benefit of going through all that work to remove and replace when what I have could work?
 
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Old 05-24-20, 01:57 PM
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A fan rated box uses larger than 8-32 screws found in a bar box. If you feel the bars are well supported in the ceiling..... that bar box would probably be ok for a 15 pound fan. If I was installing a fan there for a customer.... I could not use that existing box and bar. I would be removing it and installing a new fan box and expanding bar.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 03:14 PM
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That's what I was referring to in my post #2. The box might be secure but if the fan is a 52" and has light I'd want the fan rated one.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 03:40 PM
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Gotcha, @Norm201 and @Pjmax. Not questioning logic just making sure I had the entire picture.
Thanks again.
 
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Old 05-25-20, 03:55 PM
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I pulled the wire clips today to see what else I could find out. Inside the box there are absolutely no screws, nails, etc. that holds the box to anything (image attached). When pushed up on, the box moves upward but only slightly. I tried to dislodge it in any way but there is simply no way. I was able to use a screwdriver and flashlight and peer into an area with most resistance. I took a picture and drew a circle around the only area I was able to glean any information from. Looking in, I believe the box is secured to a joist as I see wood and some kind of long metal strap.

Would it be possible to drill a hole into the side of the box and into the joist then add one (or two) longer screws to stabilize and secure it?

Without being able to dig this out from the attic, I am at a loss on what to do next.
 
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Old 05-26-20, 05:30 AM
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The problem with doing that is you are going in at an angle and often this will pull the far side of the box up.

Is this the same box as in your first post's pictures.
In the first post it looked like the box was held onto a clip that was on a metal bar/track and I cannot see that in the latest pictures.
 
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Old 05-26-20, 08:49 AM
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Hi Manden,

Good points. One thing I failed to mention is that I went to a different room to work on that particular box as the first box is in my young son's room, which is more difficult to work on due to timing for his world. I see that the box shown above is different entirely. I will go back to his room and see what I can dig into since that is where this whole fiasco began.
 
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