By REBECCA SLOAN
The thermometer reads 90 degrees and the pavement is hot enough to fry an egg.
Seeking a cool, comfortable refuge, you drag your hot, sticky self into the house and collapse in a chair under the whirling blades of the family room ceiling fan.
Although the fan is churning full blast, the room still feels like a sauna. In fact, it feels even steamier and stuffier inside the house than it did outside.
As a bead of sweat trickles down your nose, you decide you'd be better off sitting under a shade tree in the yard.
If the ceiling fans in your home don't seem to be beating the heat the way they are supposed to, perhaps you need to check the direction the fan blades are spinning.
Here's the trick: Todd Camacci, a manager at Coventry Lighting in Canfield, said ceiling fans should run counterclockwise in summer and clockwise in winter.
Check for a switch near the motor of the ceiling fan that lets you adjust which direction the fan's blades spin.
If your home's ceiling fans are spinning in a clockwise position during the dog days of July and August, they actually will be making your home warmer. This is because fans moving in a clockwise position will push hot air down from where it rises and collects near the ceiling.
In homes with high ceilings, especially newer homes designed with cathedral ceilings, there can be a lot of hot air floating around up there, especially when the blistering sun is beating down directly above on the home's black-shingled roof.
Cutting heating costs: Of course, during the winter, using a ceiling fan to bring that hot air down to earth can make a home cozier and cut the cost of heating bills.
Camacci said many people don't realize that ceiling fans should be used to circulate air in the home during summer and winter. "Year-round use will not only help to keep ceiling fans in prime condition, it will also make your home's heating and cooling systems work more efficiently."
For example, a properly spinning ceiling fan can help circulate warm air in a room equipped with a fireplace and can help keep cool air circulating in a home equipped with air conditioning.
Better yet, running a ceiling fan will not make a significant impact on your monthly electric bill.
Running into problems: Although ceiling fans are designed to be mostly maintenance-free, letting a fan sit idle during six months of fall and winter can cause problems, Camacci said.
People often complain their ceiling fans are making odd noises or running irregularly when the fans are turned on after having sat idle for a long period.
Camacci said letting the fans run for a while, possibly as long as one or two days, will usually work out any kinks. "If the ceiling fan is still making strange noises or seems to be running irregularly after it has been going strong for 24 to 48 hours, check with the installer or manufacturer."
Camacci also recommends letting a fan run for 24 to 48 hours straight after it is first installed to get any kinks out.
The size issue: Make sure, too, that when a ceiling fan is installed, it is large enough for the room it is being installed in.
Camacci said people often make the mistake of installing one ceiling fan in a room that really needs two, or installing a ceiling fan that is too small to do the job.
Ceiling fans vary in size from 33 inches to 60 inches in diameter. To be sure you are installing a fan that is the correct size for the room you have in mind, check with the seller or manufacturer.
In the last few years, ceiling fans in a variety of snazzy new designs and colors have hit the market, assuring a perfect match for every home decor.
One popular new style features up lighting, or lights that point toward the ceiling instead of toward the floor, a feature designed to create a classier, softer ambiance, manufacturers say.
Ceiling fans for kids rooms designed with baseball, football, airplane or soccer motifs are also new and popular.
But no matter what size or type of ceiling fan you buy, Camacci recommends buying one that comes with a lifetime warranty.
Buying a fan with a lifetime warranty helps to assure that, with consistent usage, occasional cleaning and proper installation, your ceiling fan will provide a lifetime of cool summer breezes and warm winter undercurrents, he added.