Fix It: Fan-tastic

Ceiling fans have been around for a while. In fact, they have been around since 1886, prior to which fans were generally water driven.

ceiling fans 88  (photo credit: )
ceiling fans 88
(photo credit: )
Ceiling fans have been around for a while. In fact, they have been around since 1886, prior to which fans were generally water driven. In 1886, the first ceiling fan to work on electricity was invented. Ceiling fans are great - they can help save costs on heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer. When there is low humidity, it can make a room very comfortable without the use of air-conditioning at all. Style should not be the only consideration when shopping for a fan; the most important consideration should be how quiet it is. The higher quality fans have stronger motors which allow them to run more quietly. Ceiling fans generally come in three sizes. You should only consider the small and medium size if the room is not large enough for a large fan. If your room is large enough, the large fan will significantly increase the breeze you feel from the longer fan blades. Many people only make use of their ceiling fans in the spring and summer seasons. The fan generates a breeze, similar to what you feel riding in a car with an open window. However, fans are beneficial to use in the winter months as well. Hot air rises to the top; using the fan, you can help bring the warmer air down to make the lower parts of the room warmer. The direction the fan is running in also makes a difference. The blades of the fan are slanted and have a different effect if operating the fan in a clockwise or counter-clockwise direction. These settings are important and vary from one manufacturer to the next. The basic rule is to have the blades forcing the air down in the summer and the air blowing up in the winter. If you are handy, you could probably install these fans yourself. You need to be familiar with basic wiring and have the ability to change a typical light fixture. It is critical that the fan is fastened securely to the ceiling, which generally involves using a hammer drill to secure the fan with metal anchors. When dealing with any electricity, it is important to follow all the safety instructions from the manufacturer. This will include turning off the circuit breaker for the fixture when connecting the wiring. It is estimated that a ceiling fan uses about the same amount of electricity as a 100 watt bulb. Even if you already have air-conditioning, you should strongly consider adding ceiling fans. They will pay for themselves in the savings you will benefit from using less air-conditioning. Wendy G. asks: I have a bentwood rocker brought from Europe with caning on the back and seat. Due to being outdoors on a porch (albeit always in shade) the varnish is cracking, exposing the raw wood beneath. This chair has been in Israel now 10 years. I would like to remove the remaining bits of varnish and treat the wood to bring it back to health. I no longer keep the chair in open air; it is indoors only now. How does one remove this chopped old varnish? Last year while in Rome I spontaneously popped into a restoration shop to chat with the workers and asked them how to treat my chair, home in sunny Israel. They said only apply good wax to the wood, never varnish. Could you explain to me the pros and cons of wax versus varnish on wood given our climate? What about oil-based stain, which you recommend for pergola care? Finally, the caning can also use spa treatment. What can one apply to caning to give it back moisture, luster and resiliency? Varnish is a very hard finish that is great protection for wood floors but not suitable for furniture. Wax will provide the flexibility that is needed by the wood on your chair. You need to remove the old varnish that is cracking; this can be done by initially sanding it with 80 grade sand paper suitable for removing the cracked varnish. Then you can sand with a 120 grade and then a 220 grade sandpaper to get it really smooth. If you desire a finish as smooth as glass, you can even sand with 320 grade sandpaper. After it is smoothed out, you should apply the color you want using a stain or even a Danish or Tung oil. Once the color is achieved, wax is applied. Both the oil and the wax are applied with a rag. Unfortunately, the caning will probably have to be replaced. It is very unlikely that any treatment of oil or wax will be able to refurbish caning. Readers' tips, questions and comments are always welcome! The authors can be reached at