Ceiling Fan Troubleshooting and Repair(Include Light, Blades, Motor)

Ceiling Fan Troubleshooting and Repair

A ceiling can be a functional piece of your home that’s used year-round or just something you turn on occasionally. Regardless of the styles or size, each year millions of Americans have to replace ceiling fans when they can’t repair them.

In this guide, we’re going to discuss some common areas that cause homeowners trouble, and tell you the best way to fix them. That includes fans that won’t turn on along with ceiling fans that have flickering lights or wobbly blades. With that in mind, we’re going to start with the easiest area to diagnose.

Problems with Ceiling Fan Lights

One of the most common issues with ceiling fans lights are blown bulbs. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but there’s nothing worse than having to drag a ladder out once a week to change a bulb. While that may not be an issue for ceiling fans with permanent LED fixtures, if your fan has flickering bulbs, you will definitely want to keep reading.

Fans blades turn at high speeds, which can cause bulbs to become loose in their socket over time. This can cause a bulb to blow or flickering lights when the fan is in use. If the bulbs are tight, the next thing you need to do is check the wattage. Light sockets in these fans can’t handle every style of bulb, which could be the issue if you’ve recently changed wattages.

Once you’ve ruled bulbs out, it could be an issue at the switch or with the pull chain depending on the type of fan you have. If it’s the latter, our guide can help you fix a broken pull chain in less than 30 minutes. If you believe the problem is voltage-related, you’ll want to consider bringing in an electrician to check for voltage fluctuations or a short in your ceiling fan. 

Taking the Wobble out of Ceiling Fan Blades

In our research and from personal experience, we found the biggest reason for fan blade wobbling is due to damage. It could be as simple as something bumping one blade or a bit more severe like a bent arm. In either case, it’s a problem you can address yourself without having to bring in a professional.

When inspecting your blades to ensure they aren’t nicked or damaged, give them a good dusting. Heavy accumulation on the top of the blades can actually throw them off balance and cause problems with your allergies as well. Ensure the blades are firmly attached to the arms, and that the arms are not loose where they connect to the ceiling fan.

Even if a fan blade doesn’t look damaged, it can still be bent. The easiest way to tell this is to hold a yardstick to the ceiling near the blades while manually rotating them. If a blade is bent or warped, you’ll quickly notice based on the distance to the ceiling. If that’s the case, you may be able to bend the blade back into shape once it’s been removed from the fan.

balancing kits

Alpurple 3 Set Ceiling Fan Blade Balancing Kit

For warped blades, a replacement is generally in order although there are kits that can fix unbalanced blades as well. These balancing kits come in a variety of sizes and require the placement of small weights on the back of fan blades. They can be highly effective in some cases but are only a temporary solution in others.

Issues with Ceiling Fan Motors

If you buy a high-quality ceiling fan, the last thing you should worry about is the motor. They typically come with a limited lifetime guarantee, and fans with DC motors can last for decades when properly maintained. There are still some issues that commonly plague homeowners, however, including fans that simply won’t turn on.

Ceiling fan Construction

While simple, when your ceiling fan doesn’t turn on, the first thing you’ll want to check the switch to make sure it’s fully on and that the motor reverse button is locked into place. If those check out, the next step is to look at the breaker. There are no fuses in ceiling fans, but they can trip circuit breakers frequently depending on the load and the wiring in your home.

If the fan still doesn’t turn on, it’s time to get under the canopy and check the wiring. Before you grab a ladder, be sure to turn the circuit breaker off. You will need to consult your owner’s manual in regards to the wiring, but the main thing is to make sure there are no loose connections and that the wire nuts are firmly in place.

Two of the main reasons for a fan motor to have stopped working are bad bearings or a motor that has overheated. More often than not, it’s a quality control issue as fan motors have excellent guarantees. If you hear a noise coming from the motor, but the blades don’t spin, it’s usually time to dig out the warranty. Bad capacitors and bearings are not something that the average homeowner can address.

Final Thoughts

Ceiling fans may not be complicated devices, but they can be challenging to fix if you’re not sure where to start. We hope our guide helped you diagnose the issue with your fan whether you have a flickering light or out of balance blades. For mysterious and common noises, be sure to check out our guide to fixing noise issues with ceiling fans, so you’ll never miss a good night’s sleep again!

Ceiling Fan FAQ

Q: My LED light fixture is making a buzzing noise?

A: 90% of the time when you hear a buzzing noise coming from a ceiling fan with a dimmable LED fixture, it’s due to a compatibility issue between the switch/dimmer and the fan.

Q: How do I know if a capacitor is bad in my ceiling fan?

A: You can usually tell this by listening to the fan. If it has power, but the blades don’t spin and you hear a slight humming noise, it’s usually a bad capacitor.

Q: Why does my new ceiling fan have an odor?

A: That’s not uncommon on brand new ceiling fans, and something many homeowners experience with plastic parts that have been packed. The smell should dissipate within a matter of hours with the fan in use.

Q: What’s the best size downrod for a ceiling fan?

A: That all depends on how high your ceilings are. Ideally, having the fan at 8-9 feet above the flooring will provide the best airflow, but it should be mounted at least 7 feet above the floor at a minimum.

Q: Why does my light work, but shut off in less than a minute?

A: Some new fans have a built-in feature that will automatically turn the lights off if you’re using a bulb over 60-watts. Always make sure the wattage on the bulbs matches the recommendations for the fan.

Written by

Rene has worked 10 years in the HVAC field and now is the Senior Comfort Specialist for PICKHVAC. He holds an HVAC associate degree and EPA & R-410A Certifications.

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