Hanging ceiling fan from blue plastic outlet box

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Greetings all!
I am installing two Hunter ceiling fans in a basement room in my house that I am fixing up. These are neat-looking tropical style fans -- not the largest variety, but still a little heavier than one might initially assume. The instructions explicitly say NOT to hang the fans from plastic outlet boxes. However, what we currently have installed in the ceiling (currently just used for lights) is in fact those familiar blue plastic outlet boxes. To take these out and replace them with metal outlet boxes would be a massive chore -- I'd have to take out a large section of drywall, and then repatch, re-mud, and repaint.
OR, I could defy the instructions and hang the fans from the plastic boxes.
The blue outlet boxes are VERY well attached to a joist -- very firm, very solid (in fact, they would be a major pain to remove). I assume the potential problem with the plastic boxes is not the possibility of the box detaching from the joist, but rather the possibility that the plastic screw holes in the box won't be adequate to hold a relatively heavy and vibrating object.
Ordinarily, I am a very good rule-follower, and rather safety conscious, but perhaps I'd be willing to make an exception in this case. I am thinking that even if worse comes to absolute worse, and the fan comes crashing down, then I am only out the cost of a fan.
Any thoughts on this matter are much appreciated. Has anyone ever similarly defied the rules and hung a ceiling fan of moderate weight from a plastic outlet box? Did mayhem ensue, or did everyone live happily ever after?
Thanks again for any info!
Chuck
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Dolchas wrote:

Follow the rules, Chuck, follow the rules. With your luck, the plastic box will break, the fan will fall on someone or something, the wires will snap, short and cause a fire, your wonderful basement remodeling job will be up in smoke (along with the rest of the house) AND (to beat Pop to the punch) your insurance won't pay a dime since the cause of the fire was due to YOUR negligence.
Now, there is a retrofit installation kit available at the boxstores:
http://www.lesco-inc.com/images/rafanbox2.JPG its called a "retrobrace" that actually works within the confines of your 4 inch opening and braces your fan to the rafters while giving you a metal box to attach it to. I've used them and they work, no patching, mudding, or painting.
--
Grandpa Koca - SAHD for 6 - Keeper of the Perpetual Kindergarten
To send me email, see: http://homepage.mac.com/papakoca /
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Negligence is one of the main reasons to have a homeowner's policy and far from being excluded, many of the claims paid out are for negligence. For example, hitting golf balls in your yard and whacking one into the neighbors window. Or leaving out a rake that someone trips over and gets injured. Those are negligence and homeowner policies will pay the claim.
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Wow, talk about painting apples and oranges the same color! Is there any verifiable evidence that what you say is a FACT? Your implication is that non-code wiring which causes a fire WILL BE reimbursable by the insurance company. I think you need to be REAL careful of the advice you give!
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If they denied every claim that involved substandard wiring or misuse of cords in violation of their U/L listings they wouldn't pay many and I haven't heard the outrage from the tort community. These things would certainly be in court.
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and the cost of fixing whatever/whoever happens to be under it at the time

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The box is fine for containing the wires but it will not hold the fan. Use some supplimental form of support so the fan is not hanging from the box or change the box to one listed for fan support. You will still have to provide adequate support for the new box. Some fans provide for direct attachment to a framing member, independent of the box.
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Plastic boxes can usually be cut out without damaging the ceiling (I have done a couple of times). You need to cut them up in pieces with metal cutters and shear the nails with a hacksaw blade holder. Once you get the old plastic box out of the way, install a wood support or a commercially made fan support through the hole (this is the fun part) before you replace the box with a metal one. The fan supports should anchor in the wood or commercially made support and come right through the electrical box to hold the fan mount.

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Dolchas wrote:

You'll probably be able to drill a couple of holes right through the bottom of that plastic box, centered on the joist width. Then use two hefty wood screws (say No. 8s) of adequate length to sink into the joist at least 1-1/2" and hold the fan mounting strip/plate up where it belongs. It may take enlarging or drilling a couple of new holes in that part to accomodate those screws. But it'll be a heck of a lot safer than taking a chance on those fine threaded holes in that plastic box.
Make sure you attend to making a proper electrical ground connection to the fan assembly while you're at it.
Good Luck,
Jeff
--
Jeff Wisnia (W1BSV + Brass Rat '57 EE)

"As long as there are final exams, there will be prayer in public
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And this will meet code?
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Some of the Hunter instructions actually suggest this and come with very long screws.

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I'll add your story to my long list of reasons why I don't use plastic electrical boxes. It's yet still another story about how someone elses penny pinching is causing a big headache for you.
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040721 1541 - Jeff Wisnia posted:

Or, use a hole saw and saw a 7/8" hole in the back of the box and install one of those type lag screws through the box and into the floor above. It is usually plywood or hardwood of some kind. Don't go through into the upstairs. This lag bolt -- bought at fixture stores -- has a lag on one end and a regular screw thread on the other -- maybe 10-24 or 1/4-20. Use a thread extension nut to turn it into the floor above with a socket and extension with a ratchet. Then just add a piece of threaded rod to get this supporting device down through the box and long enough to support the brace for the fan. The plastic box is OK for the wiring.
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Dolchas wrote:

Don't try hanging from the plastic. Plastic cold flows and will fail over time. Either replace it or try Jeffs idea.
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Chuck, surely you are kidding? Muff
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Sure mount it right to the pretty little blue plastic boxes. Come on there are reason for following instructions ,like maybe the manufacturer and the NEC know a little more about the subject. The weight of the fans will cause them to come crashing down and if your lucky nobody will be standing under them. You can chop out the plastic boxes easy enough the replace them with a fasco fan box and support. The differences between a fasco and a regular metal box are thse. 1. a regular metal box has two 8-32 machine screws that only catch at most 3 threads in the box. These screws can pull out or possibly shear off.
2. The fasco box uses 10-32 (maybe 10-24 I forget.) machine screws and extend from the back of the box through the ears and the fan bracket mountsusing these screws with nut and lockwashers. Also if rember right the fasco system is rated for 80# Trust me do it right . Ceiling fans have been known to work themselves loose and find the floor. I think the fasco box and hanger sell for around $15.00 each.
Bill
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The Fasco box that works best with Hunter fans is the #925. You may have to go to a real electrical supply distributor to find them as I have never seen them in the box stores. Good luck.
Joe
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Everyone's sure it will fail. Has anyone actually seen one fail where the box was installed securely? I doubt it.
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jeffc wrote:

Well unlike some people, I don't need to play in the street to know its dangerous. I don't think anyone is going to brag about it even if they have done it.
I've stripped the screw threads in those plastic boxes with just a hand tool when replacing a fixture, they are brittle and will crack very easy; two of the main environments for life testing of components is thermal cycling and vibration, both of which you are going to get in a ceiling fan installation - as there is no such thing as a perfectly balanced fan. Easy enough for you to recommend him to tempt fate, but I'd put in a metal box and brace the easiest way possible.
--
Grandpa Koca - SAHD for 6 - Keeper of the Perpetual Kindergarten
To send me email, see: http://homepage.mac.com/papakoca /
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the
Really? Where did I recommend that?
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