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drop ceilings on plaster - add fan

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drop ceilings on plaster - add fan

Postby bridgeboy on Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:05 pm

Hi all,
My house's first floor has what I now know are drop ceilings of very thin drywall or something similar, about 1" below the original plaster. Based on my introduction to plaster in the upstairs I would guess the 10' ceilings downstairs were judged better covered than maintained. I agree!

Whoever did the drop ceilings just put in the one basic central light and I would like to make one a fan to help mix around warm air in winter and make it more pleasant in general. The light fit on easily since it didn't require much to hold it up - there is a central dowel about 1/2" thick that the lamp dish slides up and secures with a screwcap at the end. But a fan (with light) requires more to hold it up I would think.

1. Is the drop-ceiling going to get in the way of my fan-plan?
2. Is there a way to install a more secure crossbar to which to secure something to hold the fan/light, without having to respackle the drop ceiling?

For any info I would greatly appreciate it.

Thanks,
Dan
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1910 Post-Victorian Farmhouse
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Re: drop ceilings on plaster - add fan

Postby matt8667 on Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:25 pm

Ceiling fans and drop tile ceilings dont mix. Back in the day we did one ceiling fan on a droptile ceiling in a basement and we really had access and some major bracing to get the electrical inspector to give it the green light. That "stub" is most likely from a old gas light, but i have also seen light braces that look kinda similar. I would remove the old metal box from the ceiling (not a easy process) and install a new fan brace. I was an electrician for 4 years and it would still be a big pain the @$$. Not to mention what to do with the clearance of the tile ceiling and the chance that the wiring insulation is in poor condition. Personally i would suggest hiring a good professional, buying a nice floor fan or vintage table fan, or waiting till if/when the room gets redone.
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Re: drop ceilings on plaster - add fan

Postby bridgeboy on Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:15 am

Hi Matt,
OK I'm going to fix some accumulated cracks in the plaster walls but that's about it right now - if the room is redone, do you mean the whole ceiling taken down and replaced?

But.... if a floor fan will break up the hot air and mix up the room air, that would be fantastic. Do you think a table fan or floor fan would do that sufficiently in the winter?

Thanks,
Dan
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Re: drop ceilings on plaster - add fan

Postby khwils on Tue Oct 05, 2010 9:42 am

Well now wait a minute. Is this a drop ceiling as in suspended or did they put up fir strips and drywall? If it's drywall over plaster then you can cut out a square of drywall to give you access to the plaster ceiling Then cut out your plaster to give you access to your joists. Install a new ceiling box for fans - they make special boxes for them. Then put in a patch of drywall, it's really not that hard. In fact if its accoustical tile you can do the same thing by removing the 4 tiles surrounding your light and replacing when done. I've patched a few water damaged accoustical tile ceilings and you'd never know it was patched. Also if it's just plaster you can rip it out as well and patch when done.

Your real issue is that old wiring! :cry:

Kurt
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Re: drop ceilings on plaster - add fan

Postby bridgeboy on Tue Oct 05, 2010 6:57 pm

Hi Kurt,
Yes I was wondering what was holding up the thin drywall. I felt around the opening and it was just suspended about 1" from the plaster. I could patch, but it's not backed up against anything in that immediate vicinity. Maybe the drywall is held on at the joists with some sort of drop screw. It looks like they covered the drywall with a kind of spray-on spackling. Maybe that's what I do, and somehow affix the repaired drywall to the ceiling, tape the seams, and spray over to fix.

What could be an issue with the wiring? There are two sets of wires to modern bulbs - would those two sets of wires not be sufficient for a fan?

Thanks,
Dan
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Re: drop ceilings on plaster - add fan

Postby khwils on Wed Oct 06, 2010 11:13 am

You have a 1" gap between the new and old ceilings? That means they probably put up firring strip and screwed the drywall to them. You're not looking at a big enough picture, when I say cut out a square of your drywall I'm talking about a 1 or 2 foot square hole. You need to find your firring strips and cut back to the middle of them so you have somewhere to screw your patch onto. Then cut out a big enough access hole in your plaster to get to your joist where you can hang whatever you need.

Does that make sense now??

My reference to your wiring is that it is old.


Kurt
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Re: drop ceilings on plaster - add fan

Postby bridgeboy on Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:34 am

Hi,
OK thanks and you read the mind of a guy from work (who was hanging a light btw when I caught him) who came over to install it for me (I'm clueless). He said that the load-bearing central dowel should hold the fan, but that he is going to try to get the wiring a little more safe in that fixture. He said I should definitely try to get the wiring updated in the house. Hopefully this circuit can handle this fan. We'll see how it goes.

Thanks,
Dan
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Re: drop ceilings on plaster - add fan - help!

Postby bridgeboy on Fri Oct 08, 2010 6:52 am

Hi all,
We ran into a problem. The trusty coworker found on closer inspection the old light had been anchored not to stud but to the lathe, which won't support a heavy fan/light. I suggested we break through to put a brace between two studs but he said he didn't think that was right. He wants to, get this, attach the fan assembly to the next stud one foot over, and cover the existing hole with a wirebox. Not only would that put the fan out of center of the room, but we'd have an odd-looking box right next to it hugging the ceiling.

Is it safe to go through the lathe? Would that affect the support for surrounding plaster or would the ceiling hold? The hole would be about 8" in diameter I would guess.

Thanks,
Dan
1910 Post-Victorian Farmhouse
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Re: drop ceilings on plaster - add fan

Postby khwils on Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:22 am

Dan,

YOU'RE NOT LISTENING!!! There, I feel better now.

Cut through the drywall to your 1x firring strips so you have someplace to attach your drywall patch. Cut a hole through your plaster AND lathe so you can get access to your joists. Go to your hardware store and buy a fan mount box that has the extensions to put it between the joists and install it. This could be a 12" by 16" hole! Who cares, you can patch it with drywall when you're done.

I certainly wouldn't off center my light/fan in a room. This really isn't hard, re-read my posts or at least read them.



Kurt

Oh, I'd get rid of the "trusty coworker" if he wants to move the light over and slap up a junction box on the ceiling! At the very minimum mount the box IN the ceiling and use a cover plate. There is no need for a junction box of course if your wiring will reach the new hole.

If you're going to mount it to a joist then mount the box directly to the bottom of the joist. They make ceiling boxes for this too called pancake boxes but you won't need a pancake box since you have an extra 1" to work with.

You can also hide ceiling holes close to your light with a ceiling medallioin.

But just do it right and keep it in the middle, they make ceiling fan junction boxes just for this purpose!
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Re: drop ceilings on plaster - add fan

Postby khwils on Fri Oct 08, 2010 9:53 am

Oh, also someone makes a bar/brace that you can put up through a small hole in the ceiling and install it by expanding the shaft out to the joists. It's called a safe-t-bar or something like that. It looks slick but I've never used one. They claim you can install it through a ceiling box hole without further access??

Kurt
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