Best of 2023

FixDandy’s Totally Foolproof, Nearly Entirely Safe, and Probably Almost Legal DIY Guide to Ceiling Fan Replacement

Ready for a new ceiling fan?

Take it from me, your friendly internet-neighborhood FixDandy man: No matter how little experience you have, how badly you’ve botched previous DIY projects, or how many neighbors have sent you cease-and-desist letters, even you can follow my step-by-step guide to install a bit of indoor moving-air heaven.

Materials required

New ceiling fan



Estimated time

45 minutes


  1. Open new ceiling fan box; dump pieces on floor.
  2. Throw away packaging.
  3. Begin disassembling old unit by removing screws that secure manifold to fan engine.
  4. Having stripped the thread of those screws by trying to turn the wrong way (Remember: righty-tighty, lefty-loosey!), go to hardware store, purchase screw-removal kit. Add those to materials list.
  5. Remove old unit by unscrewing anchoring screws.
  6. Apologize to your child, whose fan you are replacing, because, when you failed to hold old fan unit up while removing last anchoring screw, the unit fell on their 8th-grade science project due tomorrow, destroying both it and any lingering chance your child had to get into a magnet high school, then a selective college, and then decent employment that would allow them to cling to a precarious middle-class existence.
  7. Call manufacturer about missing L5 screws. Add 1-2 hours.
  8. After manufacturer explains that the screw pouch was taped inside the box, retrieve packaging from garbage. Add rubber gloves to materials list, and 10-30 minutes. If by some miracle you find the screws, skip Step 9.
  9. Repeat Step 7, adding 1-2 weeks for screw delivery.
  10. Open screw package.
  11. To recover the R9 washers that you just let roll into the floor HVAC vent, see my guide “How to Retrieve Errant Washers, in 21 Easy Steps”; add 15-17 hours. If unsuccessful, repeat previous two steps.
  12. Assemble engine assembly with Pieces C2, T5, and Y7.
  13. Call a friend. Have them write gauze, over-the-counter antibiotic, and medical tape on materials list, to treat the vicious gash on your dominant hand caused by trying to pry Piece H2 that you mistakenly affixed to Piece W11. Additional time required varies by wound severity, your pain tolerance, and how recently you have been vaccinated for tetanus.
  14. As per manufacturer’s instructions to mount new fan engine, “attach B8 to G2 along transverse axis.”
  15. Do not, under any circumstance, attach F3 to Q3. Trust me on this.
  16. Look up definition of “transverse.” Repeat Step 14, this time correctly.
  17. Wire color-coding conventions are tricky, but FixDandy’s got you covered! Proceed as follows: Connect royal blue wire to navy blue wire, midnight blue wire to azure wire, and sky-blue wire to imperial blue wire. Tie remaining wires into one big bundle.
  18. Place manifold over fan engine unit. If does not fit, repeat Steps 14-17, up to six times. If manifold eventually fits, skip next step.
  19. Patch wall, spackle, and repaint drywall where, in frustration, you just punched a hammer through it. See my “How to Patch a Wall, in 41 Easy Steps.” Add 13-19 weeks.
  20. Install fan blades 1 and 2.
  21. After the third blade cracks because you over-tightened it, order replacement blade. Add 1-2 weeks.
  22. Attach third fan blade.
  23. Test all fan functions.
  24. Add flashlight to materials list. Assuming you correctly followed above steps, you did not connect williamsburg-blue wire to the cobalt-blue wire, thus fan was not grounded. Your home is now without electricity. Call a certified electrician. Depending upon electrician availability, add 4-6 weeks.
  25. Repeat Steps 2-8, for removing old ceiling fan assembly, to remove now-destroyed new ceiling fan assembly.
  26. Take mental health break. This may add anywhere from 10 minutes to 9 weeks.
  27. Go to store and purchase second new ceiling fan. Add ½ hour to 2 hours.
  28. To make sure that the new-new unit is the appropriate capacity, calculate room’s square footage and compare to manufacturer’s specifications. Then, calculate domicile’s total square footage. Open Zillow, and conduct cost-benefit analysis of relocating to an equivalent home with functioning ceiling fans.
  29. With second new ceiling fan, repeat Steps 1-28. This time, with foreknowledge, you may be able to avoid Steps 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 19, 24, 25, and 26.
  30. After failure of second ceiling fan installation, consult lawyer concerning manufacturer liability for resulting damage to ceiling, household wiring, and your deteriorating mental state. Additional time is contingent upon lawyer availability, disclaimers included in ceiling fan packaging, and the vagaries of the American legal system.
  31. Go with a friend to store parking lot. Give friend your credit card. Have friend enter store and purchase new ceiling fan #3, saving you the embarrassment.
  32. Repeat Steps 1-28. If result is different than previous installations, then a) you failed to follow the directions the first time, or b) you failed to follow the directions this time. Does it really matter?
  33. The store has run out of your ceiling fan model. Order fourth new ceiling fan online. Consult your burgeoning list of required items, and order all that shit, too.
  34. Attend marriage counseling. Be open to counselor’s advice that admitting defeat on fan #4 is not a weakness. In terms of how much time to add, there is disagreement among the marriage counselor, me, and my former wife.
  35. Order fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth ceiling fans together, to save on shipping costs.
  36. Sacrifice a goat, a sacred bull, or twelve virgins to deity of your choosing. Consult local authorities and allow time to acquire the necessary permit(s).
  37. For ceiling fan #5, follow whatever damn steps you think might work.
  38. Reassess your life decisions. Because the efficacy of psychological methods varies widely, add 8 weeks to 20 years to your ceiling fan installation journey.
  39. Have dumpster delivered.
  40. Toss ceiling fan #6 right into the dumpster. That piece of crap was never going to work, anyway.
  41. Buy copy of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Cross out each instance of “motorcycle” and write in “ceiling fan.” Required materials: Book, ball point pen, and extraordinary patience for early 1970s claptrap.
  42. If you’re successful with fan #7, skip subsequent steps. But I wouldn’t count on it.
  43. Lay out all pieces of fan #8 on a 6’x9’ tarp on garage floor, exactly according to manufacturer’s instruction manual’s diagrams. Then, strike each piece repeatedly with full force of a 12-pound sledgehammer (10-pounder may also work; see my “How to Replace a Light Bulb, in 79 Easy Steps”). This will put you in proper frame of mind for subsequent steps. To materials list, add tarp and sledgehammer. Dispose of destroyed fan. And tarp. Also, sledgehammer.
  44. Solicit bids from cement contractors to replace garage floor.
  45. Call electrician to install ninth ceiling fan. This may be quicker than previous electrician calls, now that you have them on retainer.
  46. Turn on new fan, revel in the breeze, and congratulate yourself on yet another DIY job well done!