How to Troubleshoot a Ceiling Fan

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Did one of the kids launch a ball into the ceiling fan and now it's making a strange noise and doing a wobbly hula dance overhead? Or maybe it's not "making the rounds" at all. Let's look at some possible problems and fixes.

Things You'll Need

  • Circuit Tester
  • Screwdriver Sets
  • Get rid of excess noise by checking for these easy-to-fix problems.

  • Make sure things are tight - over time, screws or nuts and bolts can vibrate loose. Check all of these that you can find; also see if the unit is loose where it attaches to the ceiling. If there's excessive play, remove the base cover and tighten nuts, bolts and mounting screws.

  • Understand that stopping squeaks, hums or grinding noises could just require a little light lubricating oil on bearings or pivoting mounting points.

  • Cure the wobbles and you'll put an end to one source of noise. Check to see if the blades are hanging level - that's something you can see when the fan's in motion as well as at a standstill.

  • Push the fan back into level while it's turned off. You might have to do this a couple of times to completely cure the wobble.

  • Listen for any humming noise at the fan motor; this can indicate that there is power to the unit but that a seized bearing or worn brushes or windings are keeping the fan from functioning.

  • Make sure you don't have a bad switch on the fan unit or on the wall. These can both be easily tested with an inexpensive circuit tester and replaced for a low cost.

  • Check for blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers at the main electrical box of the residence.

  • Plan to replace the fan if you find that it won't turn at all because of a bad motor - most fans are inexpensive enough that repair costs would outweigh the cost of replacement.

Tips & Warnings

  • Some of the pricier specialized fans may be worth taking to a repair shop (or returning to the manufacturer).
  • As with any electrical appliance, call a professional if you have any doubts about your ability to work on even the simple things.

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