Home Improvement, Humor
Comments 3

Ceiling Fan of Damocles

The Ceiling Fan of Damocles

For a solid year the ceiling fan dangled unbalanced and clearly crooked above the Spouse and me as we slept. We knew full well that failure was imminent with this fan – one among many coming problems in the house. We knew that buying a historic structure was going to be…tense. That we’d have moments of joyful accomplishment while living under the threat of crushing large scale repairs and near disasters. Since we moved into the place last year, the ceiling fan has been the physical embodiment of stuff we didn’t want to think about.

This spring the fan waggled in an increasingly catastrophic rhythm. After 13 months of lying under a 52 inch, 30 pound whirling death trap – except for a few short weeks when we graciously permitted guests the use of the room and shared with them potential dismemberment, contusions, or electrocution – the Spouse gave destiny a shake up last weekend and had a look at the situation under the fan’s cowling.

Hanging by a single near prehistoric screw thread.

Two antique wood screws wedged the fan bracket into a splintered fragment of lathe. One fell out when the Spouse poked it with a screwdriver. The fan swung back and forth in ponderous arcs, suspended by one last turn of the second ancient screw. Oh, hey. It really was dangerous. Huh.

The spouse sawed through attic floor boards for a while. He pawed old insulation, a lot of old insulation, out of the way. He found the old gas pipe. Defunct. Which is good. He found the splintered hunk of wood that had sort of been holding up the fan. Which wasn’t good. A proper bracket went in. The fan was wired properly. Mounted properly. Nine hours of effort and the fan is balanced and a lot safer than it was before. Our shoulders eased with this threat abated and the Spouse and I took turns flicking the fan on to watch it operate in a completely normal manner.

“No problem,” he said, “We’ll just get at it from the attic.”

But then I started to wonder, to where does the exhaust fan in the downstairs bathroom vent? And why is there no visible soil stack for that room? Now it’s the Bathroom of Damocles. But at least that probably won’t kill me in my sleep. Or at least not as dramatically.

Hamish the Job Dog.


  1. Spouse Who Saved Countless Lives by Properly Mounting the Ceiling Fan says

    I feel better knowing the fan is properly mounted of course, It bugs me when things aren’t done right. But as I crouched filthy and sweating in the attic mounting the bracket I couldn’t help but wonder what life would be like if I could ignore these little imperfections. More free time? Probably spend it lying in a hospital bed after being crushed by a ceiling fan while I slept!

  2. Dad says

    Having grown up in one, you sure did know that buying a historic (translate: old) structure was going to be…tense. A form of masochism? or Fun?

    • Well, I just don’t know. The Spouse and I just like old houses better. And hey, at least when something goes wrong it is a little bit expected.

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