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I recently took down a ceiling fan that was clearly loose and found it was mounted with an inadequate fixture box. Although it’s adjacent to a joist, the ceiling is roughly 2in thick. The original box was total length 3in including the bracket that was nailed to the joist.

I don’t think that most of the retrofit ceiling fan products out there can be used due to my ceiling thickness. Is anyone aware of a rated extended box that can be used? I’d rather not open the ceiling up or access from attic. (If this isn’t feasible, I’m leaning toward replacing this fan with a light fixture using box extenders.) Is there any compliant way to reuse my fan without opening/patching the ceiling or accessing from attic space?

Thick ceiling

Original fixture bracket:

Original fixture bracket

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  • Adding that there are boxes out there such as this slider box that are meant for thick ceiling substrate: alliedmoulded.com/product/…. Unfortunately it only accommodates 1-5/32 inches of substrate and I have 2in. Commented Apr 8, 2023 at 0:08

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Success! I wanted to post a detailed solution answer since I figured out a bit of an unexpected solution.

Long story short: I was able to install a old/new work box in its new work configuration without 1) making a larger hole or 2) going up into my attic that does not have flooring.

Here’s the box: RACO 1-Gang Gray Steel New Work/Old Work Standard Ceiling Fan Ceiling Electrical Box which is 4 X 2-1/8 in.

I had given up finding a solution that would work for the thickness of my ceiling. So, I purchased a light fixture and the box to side mount in the existing hole, intending to use the old work install instructions and an extender to bring it flush with the ceiling. In the old work configuration, the box would have still been ~1.5in above my ceiling surface.

However, the thickness of the ceiling made it difficult to install the side mount bracket with my drill due to geometric constraints. I couldn’t get the screws to go in at an appropriate angle.

So, I purchased a right angle drill attachment, and I realized that I might be able to install the box in its NEW work configuration from below. It worked!

The bracket is flipped in the new work configuration, which lowers the box by quite a bit and I was able to get it flush with my ceiling.

Using the adapter was a tight squeeze, but I was able to move around in the space. The only downside was that I had to finish tightening the screws by attaching a screw driver to the right angle adapter as the geometry still made it difficult to completely drive the screws using my drill attached to the adapter.

Hopefully this helps someone if they come across this and don’t want to attempt this from the attic either. Pics below:

Right angle adapter installing bracket

Bracket installed

Box installed

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  • So are you going to put in a light fixture or are you going to put in a fan with light? Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 2:51
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    @JimStewart I was able to reinstall the existing ceiling fan. This whole project started because I noticed the existing ceiling fan was loose, but now that I have a rated box installed I can safely use that fan. Commented Apr 11, 2023 at 11:59
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If you google "Ceiling fan electrical boxes", you get many options.

Some, like this one are only 1 1/2 inches deep. You may have to add 1/2 inch shim to make it flush with the ceiling drywall, but when used with with the proper screws it will work just fine.

OR...this box with spreader bar can be slid anywhere along the length of the bar and the bar can be moved up or down the height of the joist to set the box at the depth needed to be flush with the ceiling.

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