Fan on non-fan rated box

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by kornbln, Feb 22, 2009.

  1. kornbln

    kornbln New Member

    Jun 23, 2008
    I took down a ceiling fan to inspect how it was installed. What I found is a 4" square box with a fixture mud ring (Similar to a RACO 756). According to what I've found online, a mud ring like that from RACO, for instance, is rated to support 50 pounds of a static load. The fan bracket is simply screwed to the mud ring ears. I'm not sure how the 4" box is attached to the framing. No screws through the back of the box that I can see, so I'm gussing it has a side bracket. Judging by the mud and paint splatters inside the box, it must have been installed during the construction of the house and used to support a light fixture originally. Should I just leave it as is and not even worry about it since it hasn't fallen down yet? I'm not sure how this could even be corrected since it's in a vaulted ceiling and there's really no way to access it from the attic.

  2. maintenanceguy

    maintenanceguy In the Trades

    Aug 18, 2008
    The issue with non-fan rated boxes is the screw attachment between the fan and the box. Fan rated boxes have more threads than just the 2 or three threads through the sheetmetal.

    The "right" way to do this is to open the drywall enough to install the right box and patch when you're done. The patch can be pretty small and you can probably find some sort of trim to hide it.

    One "not so right" way to fix it is to make sure the box is firmly supported to the framing, put in a couple of extra screws if you can figure out where the framing is. And then install your fan mounting screws with a couple of back up nuts inside the box to prevent the screws from pulling out. A drop of lock-tite to prevent them from coming loose and you have something that is at least better than you have now. And without spending the thousands on UL testing, I still think I could come up with something that's stronger than boxes listed for the purpose.

    Now, I'm going to get slammed for suggesting option 2. And I believe in following the code whenever practical. But I also think the code only is one way to do things safely. Fire away.
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  4. rgsgww

    rgsgww New Member

    Jul 5, 2008
    Hey I've seen this at diychatroom.

    Anyways, I would go all code compliant. Depends on how possible it is.
    Is there a 2x4 bracer behind this?
  5. iminaquagmire

    iminaquagmire DIY Senior Member

    Dec 16, 2007
    I'd be willing to bet that box under the mud ring is attached to a joist directly next to it. The only way to fix it without cutting a big hole in the ceiling would be to cut just enough to expose the edge of the box and pry it away from the joist, hoping they nailed it in. Then screw your fan rated box to the joist, run your wires into it, patch whatever you need to or use a ceiling medallion, and reinstall your fan. It may work or it may not. I've done it before but if you're not careful, the drywall around the box can crack.

    One of the remodel fan boxes (Westinghouse) wouldn't work because the old box would be attached to the joist, and the support bracket for the remodel box wouldn't allow for box to move that close to the joist.

    In my opinion, if you're comfortable enough working with drywall, now is the time to cut your hole, add whatever bracing you need, and put it all back together the way it should have been in the first place.
  6. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Jun 14, 2007
    North Carolina
    314.27 (D) Boxes at Ceiling-Suspended (Paddle) Fan Outlets. Outlet boxes or outlet box systems used as the sole support of a ceiling-suspended (paddle) fan shall be listed, shall be marked by their manufacturer as suitable for this purpose, and shall not support ceiling-suspended (paddle) fans that weigh more than 32 kg (70 lb). For outlet boxes or outlet box systems designed to support ceiling-suspended (paddle) fans that weigh more than 16 kg (35 lb), the required marking shall include the maximum weight to be supported.

    But one could comply with this section

    314.27 (B) Maximum Luminaire Weight. Outlet boxes or fittings designed for the support of luminaires and installed as required by 314.23 shall be permitted to support a luminaire weighing 23 kg (50 lb) or less. A luminaire that weighs more than 23 kg (50 lb) shall be supported independently of the outlet box unless the outlet box is listed and marked for the maximum weight to be supported.

    Simply install a screw that is long enough to go through the box and hit the framing member and the job is compliant.
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