We are attempting to install a ceiling fan into our 1920s home. The light fixture was centered in the room, above it are two wooden cross sections (I’m guessing to support the floor above).

We can’t get the new fan box/brace to center in the hole that is there.

What should we do, Cut out the plaster ceiling so the fixture will be off center from the room (not preferred)?

Or, would it be OK to cut/remove the cross section so the fan support brace will fit, leaving the fixture center in the room?

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  • Photos of the hole and the structure in it will help, also the box you have. Post them elsewhere and provide a link and one of us can add them here.
    – Alaska Man
    Nov 28, 2020 at 20:56
  • I don’t one how to add a photo. I tried but couldn’t find a link to do it. Help! 😂 Nov 28, 2020 at 21:05
  • I think I did it! Nov 28, 2020 at 21:09
  • Use caution when accepting help on the internet there are a lot of internet only electricians out there that provide downright dangerous advice that is Not code. Liability lawyers love failures! I have seen the after effects of 3 ceiling fans come down from not being properly attached to a listed ceiling fan box. The one that was a box extension punched a hole in the wall and smashed a glass table, another one took out a sliding glass door and sent the family dog to the vet. The 3rd one fell from a 12’ ceiling and put 1/2” deep gouges in a really nice hard wood floor. Is it worth it?
    – Ed Beal
    Nov 30, 2020 at 23:29

1 Answer 1


The cross bracing there is just to keep the joists from twisting and isn't required. You can cut it out.

Take extreme caution in doing so!

  1. Vibrations from any kind of saw will jiggle lots of dust down on you and could crack the plaster on the ceiling.
  2. MORE IMPORTANTLY: You have a wire right there and it would be very easy to accidentally cut into it.

Make sure that this wire is dead (breaker is turned off, test to be sure with a non-contact voltage checker) before working near it.

Odds are really good that in addition to the old-work ceiling fan brace you've got there (good job on picking that up!) you'll also need an extension of some sort in order for the ceiling fan bracket to actually reach the mount points on the box. Because of the height of the legs on your old-work support and the extra depth of plaster & lath, the box that comes with the support just won't be tall enough to be flush with the ceiling or slightly below. I'm not certain of the best, code approved, way of doing this in a retro-fit, so you may want to ask a new question about that.

  • Wow! Thank you so much!! Nov 28, 2020 at 21:49
  • I have to down vote as that is a standard box extension. 422.18 paddle fans shall be supported independently of an outlet box, Or by a listed box or outlet box system identified for the use and installed per 314.27.C. This means a box extension would need to be listed for a fan and if you find one let me know I will purchase a few as I have not seen one. The proper method would be to build up the mounting wood not use a non listed box that could end up with serious legal repercussions if the fan came down! I have seen the damage kludge , or Mickey Mouse modifications have caused. Not worth it
    – Ed Beal
    Nov 30, 2020 at 23:19
  • Fair enough, @EdBeal. Please write up an answer addressing how to do that! TBH, while I accept that it may not be to code, I had ceiling fans hanging from regular octagonal boxes held up with a couple of short wood screws attached only to lathe boards for the best part of 30 years. I DO NOT recommend doing this, but a non-approved box extension isn't a recipe for instant death... Extension info removed and converted to a note that something will need to be done.
    – FreeMan
    Dec 1, 2020 at 13:07
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    I hope my edit has met with your approval, @EdBeal. I certainly take your point. As noted in the comment, I'm not recommending my 30-years-ago-knew-a-lot-less-then-than-I-do-now solution!
    – FreeMan
    Dec 1, 2020 at 14:39
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    That is better gave a + we really should not suggest non code compliant methods. Building up with wood or a steel frame attached to the joist is how I do it 1/4” plate is inexpensive and can be made custom in a few minutes most contractors I work with have welders and can make one in a few minutes if the space is deeper than a wood spacer.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 1, 2020 at 15:06

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