Is My Ceiling Fan Safe?

Ceiling Fan

Before you replace your chandelier or light with a ceiling fan, you need to know that the electric junction box in the ceiling is rated to support your fan. All new fan boxes manufactured today are marked if they are fan rated and will have special barrel post for the fan screws.

Fan Rated Box


If you are unsure if your electric box is fan rated it is best to replace with one you know for sure is properly rated. Remember it is your safety at risk here!

There are many different styles of boxes made to day, some that will straddle a joist some with bars that span between the ceiling joists and others that are screwed to the side of the joists. Part depends on whether you are working on the support system with an open ceiling or closed, with or without access from above.

If you have the ceiling open where you can access the joist, use a box that attches directly to the joist provided it will be in the location you want it, it it is not where you want it you can use a bar box that spans across the joists.

If the ceiling is not open, but you have access from above, a side mount or bar mount can be used.

If the ceiling is closed here is a video showing how to install a bar box designed just for this situation.




Installing a Ceiling Fan!


Ceiling fans are a great addition to any home. They will move the air around keeping the room at a more constant temperature, thereby keeping you more comfortable and your heating or cooling equipment working more efficiently.

Installing a ceiling fan is fairly simple but there are a few point you need to be aware of. Making sure that the connection box that is presently in the ceiling is rated for a ceiling fan, otherwise you will need to replace it with a properly rated box that can be picked up at most hardware stores. There are a few different types of boxes available, made for different types of applications.

Here is a great video with instruction on installing your ceiling fan.


How to Replace an Electrical Switch.

When it comes time for replacing an electrical switch in your home, which can be done with some knowledge and a few tools, there are a few key elements that need to be followed.

Anyone with basic handyman skills will find the following article very helpful to replace a bad switch or to just update the one you have.

If a fuse blows or a circuit breaker trips every time you turn on a switch, the switch itself is probably to blame and should be replaced. There are many different types of switches, but replacement procedures for most of them are very similar. You may wish to substitute a different type for the faulty one; for example, replacing an ordinary switch with a mercury (silent) type.

Make sure the electricity is turned off before beginning to work. Either remove the fuse, or trip the breaker serving that circuit. Remove the two screws holding the cover plate, and lift off the plate. Remove the mounting screws holding the switch to the wall box, and pull out the switch.

Carefully note the wiring of the switch. It will depend on where the switch is located with regard to the rest of the circuit. Wiring for a three-way switch (where a fixture can be controlled from two separate locations) is somewhat more complex, so make sure that the new switch is wired in the same way as the faulty one. If space permits, transfer one wire at a time from the old to the new so that you get them right the first time. If you don’t have any space, label the wires with masking tape and a pen so you can remember which one is which.

Loosen the terminal screws and remove the wires from the faulty switch. Place the loops around screws on the new switch in such a way that they will be tightened when the screws are tightened. With needle nose pliers, squeeze the loops closed around the screws. Tighten the screws firmly. Place the switch in the wall box, and install mounting screws. Replace the cover plate. Restore power to the circuit by replacing the fuse or turning on the circuit breaker, now check the operation of the switch.

Back wired switches are also available, and may be used as replacements for most ordinary switches. Installation is essentially the same as that described for back wired outlets.

Dimmer switches allow you to set the lighting mood of a room, from a soft, dramatic glow to dazzling brightness, and all ranges in between, simply by turning a knob or a slider. They also conserve electricity when set at a position other than full on. Installation is similar to other switches, except that the control knob is pressed on after the switch is mounted and the place re-installed.

It’s just that easy!

Shell Busey

Shell Busey has national recognition in Canada, with more than 50 years of home improvement industry experience under his belt; including over 25 years as a radio program host, and 118 episodes of his Home Check television program! Shell continues to deliver the how-to, what-to, where-to, why-to, when-to, and who-to of home improvement.

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Understanding Your Electric Circuit Panel

If you do not know where your electric circuit panel is, this article will help you locate it and understand what you need to know about it.

The electric panel distributes electric power to lights, outlets and appliances throughout your home and protects each circuit separately with a fuse or circuit breaker, which shuts off the power in case of an electrical short.

Your electrical panel can be located in many different locations in a home, it generally has a greyish or white cover with a swing door, although you may find that your panel has been painted a different color, boxed in or covered with a painting or something else to hide it.

If you have an overhead power line coming to your home from the utility poles along the street, you can follow that line to find the electric meter (which most of the time will be on the outside of the house), this will help in locating your electric panel.

Places to look to find your electric panel:

  • Outside of your house – You may find the Circuit panel next to or attached to the meter.
  • In the Garage – If you found the electric meter and it is on the outside garage wall, there is a good chance the circuit panel is in the garage on the same wall.
  • In the Basement – If you have a basement, look for the panel in the same area as you found the meter outside.
  • In a Closet – In many smaller homes, that do not have garages or basements, you may find the panel in a utility closet or pantry.
  • In a Hallway – In older homes and apartments, you may find the electric panel in the hall way leading to the bedrooms or den.
  • In the Attic – On the rare occasion, where the home owner wired their own house before building codes, you may find they installed the panel in the attic.

If after you have exhausted this list and you have not located your electric panel, please call a professional, as it is important for you to know where it is located.

Now that you found your panel, you will want to open it and see what is inside. You will have either fuses or circuit breakers.

Fuse Box
Fuse Panel
Circuit Breaker Panel

If a fuse blows you will see a small piece of metal under the glass that will have a separation in it. It then needs to be replaced.

When a circuit breaker trips, the lever should go to the center position and feel loose if you move it. You need to  move the breaker to the off position before turning it back on.

One of the issues with many panels is they are not properly marked, so when you need to turn off the power to a particular circuit or appliance in an emergency you have no clue where to start. In this situation, hopefully the Main Breaker is marked and you can cut power to the whole house.

Making sure that your panel is correctly mark is a fairly easy process but takes some time and best done with 2 or more people and some testing equipment.

Some of the tools that can help in this process are listed here, but you can just use a light you know works or a radio.

A Plug-in Circuit Tester works well for checking if there is power to an outlet.

An AC Voltage Detector will check outlet, light and wiring for power.

My favorite is a Circuit Breaker Finder, which will not only show you if the circuit is working but will show you which breaker belongs to which circuit.

Labeling your panel to include as many items or rooms on a circuit is best. See the video on the next page for tips on accomplishing this task.


Making Your Home Safer with a GFCI Outlet.

Installing GFCI outlets in your home anywhere water and electric could meet, will help keep you and your family safer.

A GFCI Outlet (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) is a device that detects when small amounts of electrical power is misdirected to ground. Water is an excellent electrical conductor to ground and if you are in between the power source and the ground you become part of the circuit, causing injury or possible death.

The GFCI Outlet will sense when this is the case and trip (turn off) the device, stopping power from traveling through it.

Building codes now require the installation of these devices in all new homes and renovation projects, but a lot of older home do not have them.

If you have an older home you can protect your family by installing GFCI outlets in any location where there is an electrical outlet and water or high moisture levels, such as Kitchen sink area, bathrooms, Garages and outdoor outlets.


Go to the Next Page for instructions on replace your current outlets with GFCI outlets.


Why don’t I have power at my outlet!

GFCI Outlet

When you walk into a room and have to ask yourself, why don’t I have power at my outlets? The first thing you probably think of is call an electrician. Well a lot of the time that is not necessary it may be a simple fix. It could take just a little knowledge and a few simple tools to fix the issue. Here is an article which could help same you the expense of a service call from an electrician.

When the lights go out in one or more rooms or in a series of electrical outlets, the culprit is sometimes a circuit breaker or a fuse has blown. However, in some cases the breaker or fuse may seem fine, and even if you reset the circuit breaker the circuit is still dead. In those cases the culprit might be a GFCI outlet that has tripped.This phenomena can occur in homes that use GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets. The GFCI outlet (sometimes also called a GFI) is like a circuit breaker and can shut off the flow of electricity to the outlet and all outlets, lights and hard-wired electrical devices downstream of the outlet. When the GFCI senses an electrical imbalance it will trip, much more quickly than a circuit breaker. Its purpose is to protect people from electrocution, something the average circuit breaker can’t do.

One thing about GFCI outlets, is that they can control outlets and lights in other parts of the home other than where the GFCI is located. It is quite common for a GFCI to be tripped in a bathroom, kitchen, laundry room, closet or even outdoors and somewhere else in the home is also affected. Don’t assume the GFCI is even on the same floor and the affected area.

GFCI Outlet

How To Reset a GFCI Outlet

Before electricity can be restored, the GFCI must be reset. However, even before you do that, you must take steps to ensure that it is safe to do so. Turn off or unplug all of the devices that are plugged into the circuit. Make certain no dangerous condition exists before restoring power.

Press the “Test” button. If it does not click, then the ground fault interrupter has tripped. Pressing the “Reset” button until you feel it click should restore power to the outlet and all lights and outlets downstream from this outlet. If it does not reset, the problem that caused it to trip may still exist. Turn off all light switches and unplug all electrical devices on the affected circuit, then try resetting the GFCI again. If the GFCI does not reset, try turning off the circuit breaker for the affected circuit, then reset the GFCI, then turn the circuit breaker back on. If the GFCI fails to reset or immediately trips again, the outlet may need to be replaced or a more serious electrical problem may exist and may require the assistance of a licensed electrician.

Follow this link for more information about GFCI Outlets

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Now that you have some learned about GFCI’s it will make it easier the next time you find yourself in the dark.

Stay tuned for more enlightening articles!