Question: The bedrooms in our house don’t seem to get very much air circulation when the weather is hot, even with all the windows open, and we would like to know how much trouble it would be to install ceiling fans.
Your Handyman: A ceiling fan can be a stylish addition to a room, but can also help with air circulation to keep the room cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
If your bedrooms have adequate attic space and access, the installation will be a relatively quick project.
Most fans that are sold now have a remote-control feature for both the lights and the fan speed, so it is not necessary to install a wall switch for the fan to operate, provided there is electrical service in the attic that is accessible.
Many fans now also have an optional remote-control wall switch that will control both the fan and light if the fan is replacing a ceiling light.
The first step is to install a new metal electrical box that is rated to support a ceiling fan and is strong enough to safely support the weight and movement of the fan.
You will want to determine the location on the ceiling for the fan and then drill a small hole in the ceiling to insert a piece of wire through so you can find it when working in the attic.
Depending on the position of the ceiling joists, which are the horizontal framing lumber that supports the ceiling, you may have to move the fan position slightly so it is between two joists.
Typically, a piece of 2×4 wood blocking is nailed between the ceiling joists at the location of the new fan and the electrical box is screwed to this piece of blocking.
There are also special expanding brackets that cleat into the ceiling joists to provide adequate support for the fan. This type of bracket also can be used if there is no attic access.
The next step is to provide electrical power from an existing electrical junction box in the attic using the proper electrical fittings and cable.
This work should only be done by an electrician unless you are very experienced with electrical work. Do not work on any circuit unless the circuit breaker is turned off and you verify with a testing device that the power is off.
If your fan is replacing an existing ceiling light, the electrical supply cable for the old light is usually adequate for the new fan.
You are now ready to assemble and install the ceiling fan following the manufacturer’s instructions packed in the box with the fan.
Keep in mind that ceiling fans seem to be frequently on sale at big box hardware stores, but a bargain fan will usually be a noisy fan, while a more expensive fan will operate more quietly.
An inexpensive fan that hums or rattles when operating may keep you awake at night and make you regret not purchasing a more expensive model.
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Question: The back door in our laundry room that goes to the backyard was replaced seven or eight years ago by my brother-in-law, but it is now so swollen up from rain that it needs to be replaced again.
Do we need to get a metal door, so the new door doesn’t get ruined also?
Your Handyman: Probably the main issue affecting the longevity of your back door is that is does not have an awning or patio roof that provides protection from the weather.
An exterior door that is exposed to direct rain all winter is going to need to have the protection of multiple coats of paint on both faces and all four edges.
If it has a dog door, the cut that was made for the dog door needs to be thoroughly sealed with paint and caulking.
If the door has an aluminum sash style window, care must be taken that the seam around the window is kept caulked and painted.
All exterior doors ideally should have a raised threshold installed on the floor, an aluminum door shoe on the base of the door with a drip edge to push rain away from the door base, and a rubber weather strip on the bottom of the door shoe to keep moisture from seeping under the door.
Otherwise, the base of a door can wick up moisture that runs down the face of the door and the door base will soon start to swell up and crack.
A simple awning can easily be built and installed over the door for the best weather protection for the door and for people and pets using the door in bad weather.