Design & DIY

3 fixes for malfunctioning fans

A ceiling fan mounted to a wood ceiling By Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Like any appliance, you don’t really think about the fans in your house until they’re not working. And, according to Murphy’s Law, a house or cottage fan will stop working precisely when you need it the most. Here are some tips and tricks to keep your room and ceiling fans running, and potential DIY fixes for when they conk out.

1) Power fails

The first step in figuring out why a fan isn’t working is to check the power supply. For room fans, make sure that a tug on the cord hasn’t pulled the plug out. Next, head to the fuse or circuit panel to make sure that hasn’t tripped. Finally, try plugging in a functioning appliance like a lamp or vacuum to test if the outlet itself is working.

If your ceiling fan remote doesn’t work, try replacing the batteries. If that’s not it, turn the power off, remove the canopy, and check to make sure none of the wiring connections have come apart.

If you turn on a fan and hear a humming sound but it won’t spin—or your ceiling fan lights work but the motor won’t turn—the motor may be dead. Check with the manufacturer to see if a replacement motor is available. Depending on the quality of the fan, it may be more cost-effective to buy a new one.

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2) Wobbly fans

An off-balance ceiling fan can be noisy and eventually damage the motor. Start by gently cleaning off any dust that’s accumulated on the top and edges of the blades.

Next, tighten all the screws holding the blades in place. You’ll also want to remove the canopy cover so you can tighten the mounting screws holding the unit to the ceiling.

While you’re up on the ladder, measure the distance from the tip of each blade to the ceiling. They should all be within about 1/8” of each other. If not, tighten the screws that hold the blade brackets to the motor to level them up.

If that doesn’t work, buy a fan balancing kit. These come with a plastic clip to that you attach to the blades one at a time, turning the fan on each time to try to figure out which blade is unbalanced. Once you’ve done that, attach one of the stick-on weights included in the kit to correct the issue.

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3) Noisy fans

Tightening all the screws on your ceiling fan might help eliminate any noises. If not, try spraying some silicone lubricant on the bearings.

If you hear a clinking sound while your ceiling fan is spinning, tighten the nuts that hold the glass globes in place. If that doesn’t fix the problem, the bulbs you’re using might be too big for the fixture.

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