Just got a Hunter 42in ceiling fan, and it's about 16lbs. I am hanging it in the kitchen. The house was built in 2015 and I have pictures I took during the rough in electrical. It's conduit and I see it's a standard box, mounted to one joist, with conduit coming in though the side.

Will I be able to hang a small fan off this that is 16lbs?

I came across this YouTube video showing how to knock out an old box and put in a fan support by twisting it in. This is in between floors, so I would have to knock it out like the video, if even possible with the conduit nipple against the box.

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  • Can you post photos of the inside of the box please, clearly showing any stamped-in markings? Aug 12, 2020 at 2:18
  • @ThreePhaseEel Thank you, I added some pictures. The inside looks like it got sprayed with paint, but you can still see some stamped markings.
    – eaglei22
    Aug 12, 2020 at 2:57
  • Is mounting the fan to the joist an option? Aug 12, 2020 at 3:23
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    @ThreePhaseEel Hmm I don't think so. The hardware supplied does give wood screws but per instructions, "only with approved electrical outletbox" the cap however would be too small if the supplied bracket was mounted to the joist, the supplied cover wouldn't cover the outlet box, only a portion.
    – eaglei22
    Aug 12, 2020 at 13:03
  • @ThreePhaseEel This is the fan I purchased: amazon.com/dp/B01CDGCCHC/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_Qr2mFbFMRBRP8
    – eaglei22
    Aug 12, 2020 at 13:03

2 Answers 2


How much force does an 3 pound hammer hit with? Just 3 pounds, right? Just place the hammer atop the nail and the nail drives in from the fearful force of 3 pounds? No, that's not how hammers work, hammers involve a dynamic force that is much larger.

That's not how fans work either. Fans are mostly dynamic force because of their spinning and vibration. It would be 16 pounds if you never started the fan; likewise the hook on my tool rack only has to contend with 3 pounds.

If you use a non-fan-rated box to hold up a fan, the fasteners will walk themselves out from the vibration, and you'll drop a fan on somebody's head. If that's a welded steel box, it could even crack the welds. (drawn steel boxes won't have that problem, at least).

So you'll need to do a box-ectomy, and the trick is to confine the drywall damage to what will be concealed by the fan shroud.

Tape the 2 wires together (obviously, do this with the breaker off). Since it's conduit, you'll have to find the other end of that conduit and pull back the red and white wire so it's just an inch inside the pipe, then unbolt the conduit (the castellations on that wacky nut are to give you a place to put a screwdriver so you can bap it to make it rotate; remember lefty loosey.)

You have to be careful positioning the new fan-rated box so a knockout on the box will align with the conduit pipe; it's probably EMT and hard to move. There's no benefit to removing the fitting from the end of the pipe unless you need the clearance to work. It's only an inch of clearance anyway. The fitting has to go back on the pipe before the box is fitted because you must tighten it (for grounding; that's the ground).

Then go to the box from which you pulled the wires back, and push them back toward this box. Pushing usually works if there's only one 90-degree-bend in the pipe. Or reach into the pipe with a narrow needle-nose and grab them. This is why you bundled them together: so you could grab them now.

  • Great explanation. Thank you. I think this is the route I will end up taking for peace of mind, and safety. Do you have a retrofit kit in mind you recommend? I was going to use one the Westinghouse ones from Home Depot. Will the fact that the conduit fitting is snug against the box be an issue when removing the old box? Is knocking it out with a board and hammer the routine way, or should I be using a power tool like a dremel to assist in the removal.
    – eaglei22
    Aug 12, 2020 at 16:54
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    What you're looking at there is a round mud ring on a 4x4 square box, such as a Hubbell 767. I would cut the drywall to conform with the 4x4 square box behind it (that's 4" square) and that will give you access to the screws mounting the mud ring to the box. With the mud ring unscrewed, you can see how the box is attached. Aug 12, 2020 at 17:16
  • How many threaded fasteners hold the mud ring to the box? Could you assume four? These fans are light. I have hung the old 50 lb Hunters and thse Aug 12, 2020 at 21:57
  • @JimStewart I would assume 2 on the corners. Most 4x4 boxes only have 2 tapped holes on corners. Aug 13, 2020 at 1:46
  • Only two screw fasteners would make the mud ring less secure than I feel comfortable with. If the current box is removed and a fan box inserted through the hole, then how does one achieve vertical alignment of the conduit and the knockout of the new box? The edge of the new box must be flush with the finished ceiling. Aug 13, 2020 at 17:21

With a steel box like that it's not so much a matter of it being fan-rated but how well it's attached to the framing. It may not meet code, but it may hold the fan just fine. You decide your priority.

I would give it a firm tug. Does it flex at all? If it feels solid with 50 lbs. of you hanging on it, I'd trust it to hold a light fan. Just be sure that the screws you use to connect the fan bracket to the box are of the correct size for the threaded holes, and don't overtighten and strip them.

  • 1
    Thanks for the response. Safety is always my number one priority. I did give it a good tug, and it seems pretty solid. Especially with the conduit bracing it as well. I just don't know the limits of the boxes, and what not so i didn't want to just install it and hope for the best.
    – eaglei22
    Aug 12, 2020 at 13:20
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    I'd be concerned about the screws going into the mud ring. Maybe tap for a larger one but then you're modifying the box.
    – JACK
    Aug 12, 2020 at 15:34
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    It is a concern, but a mild one. Unless the threads have been abused they'd hold 180 lbs., let alone 18. How many fans have we seen hanging on plastic light boxes?
    – isherwood
    Aug 12, 2020 at 15:38

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