How to Make a Ceiling Fan Run Backwards


Most ceiling fans have the capability of turning in either direction (clockwise or counterclockwise), with the direction controlled by a toggle switch on the fan housing. This makes the fan useful year-round. Running counterclockwise, the blades are tilted into the direction of the spin, pushing air down on you and creating a breeze. Running counterclockwise, the fans are tilted away from the direction of the spin, which pulls air up to the ceiling where it's warmer -- and then moves it back down into the room.

Things You'll Need

  • Stepladder
  • Turn on the fan at the wall switch or pull-chain. Watch as it starts turning (before it builds up to full speed) to confirm which direction the air flow is currently set at. If the fan is spinning counterclockwise as you look at it from underneath, it means the air is blowing down; if it's spinning clockwise, it means the air is being pulled up.

  • Turn off the fan. Wait for the blades to completely stop spinning.

  • Set your stepladder under the fan and climb up to it. Find the toggle switch on the side of the fan unit, on the housing below the blades and above the light (if there is one). The switch will be set either to the right (for an upward draft) or to the left (for a downward draft).

  • Set the switch where you want it (generally, to the left/downward in summer, and to the right/upward in winter). Remove the ladder. Turn on the fan.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your fan can be set to different speeds, set it on high during the summer, blowing down, to create a cooling draft, while setting it on low, pulling up, during winter, to slowly push warm air down around the edges of the room without pushing it fast enough to create a draft.
  • Reversing the fan direction while the blades moving can be dangerous, and can damage the mechanism.

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  • Photo Credit Ceiling Fan image by AJ Sellas from
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