Hanging a chandelier in your home can add class to the look of your dining room, entryway, staircase, or any other area of your home. While there is no governing set of rules for hanging a chandelier in a private home, by following simple guidelines and the best practices you can hang the light fixture safely and securely in a manner that you can enjoy for years to come.
Be sure to select a chandelier that fits in the area you want to light without obstructing the view or foot traffic pathways. For standard height (8 feet tall) ceilings, this generally means hanging the chandelier over a table. If your chandelier has adjustable length hanging hardware, make sure the bottom is approximately 30 to 36 inches above the table surface to offer the best lighting without obstructing the views across the table. For chandeliers that are not above tables, make sure the bottom of the chandelier is at least 6 feet above the floor (6 feet and 6 inches is better) to keep it clear of people's heads as they walk under it, protecting both your guests and your light fixture.
Chandeliers are generally heavy, often more so than standard ceiling fixtures. Because of this, you need to make sure the weight of the chandelier is safely supported while you are installing it. You will also want to avoid attempting to climb up and down a ladder with it in your hands, as the weight may throw you off-balance. For standard 8-foot ceilings that allow you to use a regular A-frame ladder, have a partner hold the chandelier and necessary tools using a separate ladder to hand items to you if they cannot be handed up from the floor; never allow a helper to climb up on the ladder with you unless you are using a ladder specifically constructed for two-person use. For taller ceilings, use a scaffold or lift that is large enough for you to safely set the chandelier and all other parts down on the platform with you. For additional safety, tie the chandelier to the lift with a medium-weight cotton line so it will not accidentally get kicked off while you are working. Make sure no one stands underneath you while you work.
Always turn off the power at the circuit breaker before installing your chandelier. Just turning it off at the light switch is not considered safe, partly because someone might walk by and accidentally bump the switch on or turn it on without realizing that you are working with the wires, resulting in electrocution. There is also the chance that a small amount of voltage, known as "trickle voltage," may still seep through the wires, even with the switch turned off. While this voltage itself isn't at a dangerous level, feeling the buzz of voltage on your fingers is enough to startle most people, which can result in a fall off the ladder or scaffolding you are using to reach the ceiling. Such a fall can cause serious injury as well as damaging or destroying the chandelier if it falls with you. The glass components on many chandeliers make this a particularly dangerous situation, as they can shatter, causing additional injuries.
- Photo Credit Chandelier image by TekinT from Fotolia.com
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