Is there anyway to safely mount a ceiling fan to this type of older ceiling junction box (see the photos)?

I rent an old 1920's built house where an old hanging light fixture junction box was covered with a blank panel. I want to hang a ceiling fan in this living room, but when exposed I see this old junction box that is really in the plaster and would be a huge hassle to replace.

One photo is how it looked when I first removed the blank cover. You will see the old threaded light fixture mount. With that mount removed as well as some plaster, you can see it is in there pretty well. There is no access from above it since that is a wooded bedroom floor directly upstairs. That junction box appears to be held sturdy by the two rusty-colored head screws (see photo) to a metal cross bar behind it.

I am sure my landlord would not be cool with having the ceiling torn apart more to replace this old junction box, so I wanted to see if anyone thinks there is an adapter or way to retrofit and adapt this box to mount a ceiling fan.

enter image description here

  • 1
    There is a way to do it using the threaded mount that was originally there. You need a threaded nipple that is used for light fixtures, and an adapter plate that will screw onto the nipple. The plate has a spot to attach the ground wire to, as well as the screw holes that will attach the fan to the box. These products can be found at some hardware and some specialty lighting stores. I will do some more research and write up an answer. Apr 19, 2016 at 20:30
  • Whatever you do, consider slipping modern heat shrink tube over the place where the old wires cross into the box. diy.stackexchange.com/a/20279/5960
    – Bryce
    Jun 3, 2018 at 17:29

5 Answers 5


Buy a ceiling hugger style fan (the ones without a stem or with the option to mount without the stem).

Mount the fan's bracket directly to the ceiling with toggle bolts or other such fastener. This way the fan is not support by the box at all.

Good luck with your project!


Close inspection of the pictures reveals that this is a plaster ring mounted to a 4-S or 5-S box. It is a strange plaster ring in that it does not have standard threaded fixture tabs.

Open the plaster a bit more to reveal the screws in the corner that hold the ring to the square box below. Because the square box itself appears to be sufficiently anchored, you may be able to install a heavy duty fan rated 4-S/5-S to 4-O plaster ring onto it and away you go. Or, preferably, pull the box and install a fan-rated box.


It looks to me like the current box would come out pretty easily. I'd probably get a new box of similar dimensions that's intended to carry a fan and mount it to the metal bar basically the same way that the current box does. Some are designed to accommodate surface mounting.

Otherwise, it's just a matter of finding the right hardware configuration to mount the fan base bracket to what you have available--apparently the metal bar. You may be able to find longer versions of the screws that are there now.

  • Unfortunately the photos do not really show the whole construct of the box. That round opening is part of the black, flat facing you see around it. So I believe it is a square cover that has the round opening (and that cover is attached to a junction box underneath). To remove that square-to-round cover, I would need to expose more of the square junction box (to get to the screws that hold that cover down) which would mean tearing away more plastic and cutting those wood slats. That is what I am trying to avoid - tearing up more ceiling (but may not be able to).
    – Matt M.
    Apr 18, 2016 at 20:50
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    I see. A photo of the fan's bracket would allow more specific advice.
    – isherwood
    Apr 18, 2016 at 20:57
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    I actually wonder if this box is fan-rated to begin with? It mounts in the way you'd expect a new-work fan rated box to... Apr 18, 2016 at 22:54
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    Someone's downvote button is smoking today. Care to comment?
    – isherwood
    Apr 19, 2016 at 20:38

This old electrical box is not rated for modern fans. It does not have the the 8-32 screw tabs on two sides. I suggest to remove this old metal box and replace it with a new shallow fan box. Clearly this old box is screwed to a floor or ceiling joist in an old home. The new ceiling box can also be screwed to the joist. Be sure to turn off the power before attempting this or call an electrician.



This box does have 8/32 screw support. I have the same issue. There are two holes in the back of the pan that accept 8/3 screws and , in my case, the the center nipple also accepts an 8/32 screw. I need to find a way to use the old threaded nipple, else the fixtures hang too low usually. The nipple is incredibly strong and floats to allow a fan to self level.

Another issue is the electrical wire, most modern brackets expect that the wire will come through the center, but these old shallow pans have the wires , in essence coming off to far from the side. I had to drill a hole into the last large plate supplied by the fan mfg to allow the positive wire free movement.

  • 2
    I'm not sure if you're asking a new question, ("I need to find a way to use the old threaded nipple"), or if you're attempting to actually answer the question. If this is a new question, please ask a new question. If it's intended to be an answer, please edit to clarify how you're addressing the OP's question. In either case, welcome! and please take the tour to see how this place differs from other discussion forums.
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    Jan 31, 2022 at 13:24
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