Rob, we came to the same conclusion about our luck! It was very heavy, very greasy (black smelly stuff) and would have made a huge mess. But instead of forgetting to finish the job, as Jon suggests, the way things got built in cabins out here means it was more likely the owner, not a real contractor, who installed it, and that person had no idea of what they were doing. On the other hand, that still doesn't explain its gravity-defying presence in the ceiling. Jon 's microwave story sounds like the typical situation here, too. I've had problems with lots of things installed or built even by so-called professional contractors.
It does make one wonder how contractors and DIY enthusiasts do some of the things we must go back and rework, repair, or replace. I'd bet someone forgot to attach the fan in the first place or forgot to come back and finish the job.
When we built out house here in Utah I told the kitchen people I would install an outside vent for the microwave oven later, so they just had to put the oven in place and I'd get to it when I had time. Until we had the vent, I told them we would use the oven's fan to recirculate the air. When I removed the microwave to install the vent I noticed the installation people had left a baffle in place that directed the air to the back wall. The air we felt coming out the front vents somehow bypassed the baffle just enough so we thought everything worked fine. Glad I got the vent in or likely the fan motor would have burned out. It's difficult to trust people to do things right unless you do them yourself.
Sounds like you simply lucked out that previous fan didn't fall out of the ceiling at some point. When I was installing the ceiling fan I was tempted to take a substantial short cut that would have involved mounting the fan less securely. But I figured Murphy's Law would send the fan crashing down at some point, so I took the long safe road.
Rob, I can at least understand the problem if it's a first-time installation. What was so weird about our situation is that a previous fan had been mounted in the hole, and when we took it out, we couldn't figure out how it stayed up: there was no mounting structure of any kind.
Ann, I ran into the same challenge as your husband when I installed a ceiling fan in a dining room. I thought, "This is a common installation -- how hard can it be?" I spent some quality time on the beams in the attic space, which is a difficult space for improvising. Like your husband, I had to create a mounting structure as the fan didn't have a sufficient apparatus to attach to the beams.
Jon, that sounds like some clever adaptations on your part. I wish I could get my husband to describe what he did in adapting a bathroom fan to the opening in our kitchen ceiling which had previously, and mysteriously, accommodated an old grease-laden bathroom fan (in this tiny cabin kitchen there's no room for a modern exhaust fan). The mystery came when we couldn't figure out how the old fan had been mounted, in between the beams and on top of acoustic ceiling tiles, into the attic space. Anyway, he had to create a structure inside the attic that could then be attached and used to mount the fan. The project was about 80% design and 20% installation.
Good advice, Ivan. I suppose that's why contractors and repair services charge what they do--they never really know what's involved until they get started. I see this often on PBS's "This Old House," when after tearing out some part of a structure, the builders find rotten wood, incorrectly installed plumbing, leaky pipes, and so on. It's no wonder PBS never reveals the total cost of a project!
I have taken recently to avoiding saying any job will be easy. I keep running into this kind of unexpected condition that makes a seemingly easy job require a lot more work than first expected.
We used to call this "discovered work" in that we only figured out how much work it really was once we started.
I have also started applying a new rule to my work projects. Do as much as possible to prepare the work site beforehand. Clear the site, get everything out of the way and make sure one has sufficient access before actually ripping out stuff to be replaced. Keeping the work site clean and cleared of debris is really helpful in reducing lost time.
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