Hot Topics: Is This Electric Box Suitable to Support a Light Ceiling Fan? Hot Topics: Is This Electric Box Suitable to Support a Light Ceiling Fan?

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Original Post: Is this electric box suitable to support a light ceiling fan?

jenny19 Member

Hi, everyone! The fan is only 17 pounds. I don't have attic access, but this is what the box looks like from below. There are two machine screws in the top. Also, can you tell me what kind of screws to use to attach it? There were drywall screws in there previously, which would be too wobbly. Thanks in advance for your help!

Donato_ Member

The two screws in the picture are not what's holding the box to the joist. They are to secure the wires that enter the box. The box will probably hold the fan, but I can't see if it's fan-rated.

jenny19 Member

Donato, thanks for your fast response! That leads me to my next question—the red wire was wrapped around one of those screws. It's copper inside. Is that the ground wire? Or should I just put it back where it was and not attach anything to the green ground in the fan fixture?

PJmax Group Moderator

That is not a fan-rated box. It's called a nail-on metal gem box. I can see the bracket that is attached to the box in the top of your picture. It could be held to the joist with screws, roofing nails, or cable staples. Basically anything went. It would need to be removed and replaced with a fan-rated box. When selecting a box with a fan, it's not just the weight; it's the movement that causes the problems that static fixtures are not subject to.

Since you are against a joist, you can use a box like shown below. It will screw directly to the joist. If you have a three-wire cable, there should be a bare ground wire. The red should not be used as a ground wire. It should be capped off.

An electric box.

jenny19 Member

Thanks, Pete. Very helpful. I can't see how the box is connected, but I'm impressed you can. Looks like this project just got a lot bigger. Guess I need to cut through the sheet rock to remove the box and install a new one?

And there is no ground wire, but maybe because they are wrapped in metal conduit?

Donato_ Member

Normally, a red wire is not a ground. Black and red are usually hot wires. Green is a ground. You should have a tester to determine what's hot. The hot wire usually gets connected to a black wire and a blue wire in the fan itself. One is for the fan and the other is for the light assembly.

PJmax Group Moderator

I reposted the box in my post. This is what you have. If you look between the box and the Sheetrock, you can see the metal bracket. I have a red arrow pointing toward the bracket. You need to take a large screwdriver, push it up through that side, and twist and pry the box off the joist. Not always easy to do.

An electric box.

jenny19 Member

This is very helpful. I will give it a shot. I'm still concerned by the lack of a ground wire, though I understand sometimes wires housed in a metal conduit don't have them. So assuming I get the new box installed, what do I do with the green ground wire that's included with the fan? Should I try to remove it? Or wrap it around a screw in the box?

PJmax Group Moderator

Unless the wiring is very old, the ground may have been cut or broken off. It will be easier to tell when the box is out. If you do try to remove the box, push up on the opposite side of the box from the bracket so that when you pry, the box won't crack the Sheetrock.

ray2047 Group Moderator

Just to be clear, that isn't even a box normally used for lights. It's a switch and receptacle box that uses 6-32 fixture mounting screws. A light box is usually round or octagon and uses 8-32 screws. Fan boxes use 10-24 mounting screws.

jenny19 Member

Thanks, Ray. This is also very helpful and disappointing. These are in the ceiling all over my house. Do you have any insight on the lack of grounding wire? I keep reading that with the metal conduits it's not required, but I'm puzzled what to do with the ground wire included in the fan.

ray2047 Group Moderator

Coil the ground wire up in the box and leave it disconnected. It's not needed for operation.

To read the rest of the thread, look here: https://www.doityourself.com/forum/lighting-light-fixtures-ceiling-exhaust-fans/586111-electric-box-suitable-support-light-ceiling-fan.html

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