How to Fix a Ceiling Fan - Fix 5 Common Problems - The Saw Guy (2023)


Table of contents

  • Troubleshooting: The fan does not work at all
  • The fan makes noise, but the blades do not rotate
  • The fan hangs on one level.
  • The pull cord has broken in the fan.
  • Wobbly or noisy fan

problems with aCeilingFan? Don't sweat. (Pun intended.) These everyday devices are powered by simple induction motors, and there's only a handful of things that can go wrong with them.

For the DIY enthusiast, this makes diagnosing and fixing problems relatively easy (again, pun intended). In this article, we'll walk you through several troubleshooting steps to identify the culprit and get your fan running again.

We will break down the troubleshooting process based on the following issues:

(Video) How To Fix A Ceiling Fan – Troubleshoot 5 Common Problems

  • The fan does not work at all (no power, no hum, etc.)
  • The fan makes noise, but the blades do not rotate
  • The fan hangs on one level.
  • The pull cord has broken in the fan.
  • Fan hums/hums abnormally or wobbles excessively

Ceiling fan maintenance

Before you continue troubleshooting, now would be a good time to briefly talk about maintenance. The main cause of burned out ceiling fans is overheating due to dust build up and/or insufficient lubrication. make sureClean your ceiling fansfrom time to time: avoid dust deposits on the blades or the motor housing and from time to time put a few drops of household oil on moving parts.

Troubleshooting: The fan does not work at all

If this is the case, you are either faced with a very simple fix, or your fan is warm and likely needs to be replaced.

First make sure you have power to get to the fan. If the fan has a light and the lights work but the fan doesn't, you know the power is good and the problem is somewhere in the wiring or the fan motor.

If nothing works at all, check if the wall switch is getting power. Check to see if a circuit breaker has tripped. If you're sure the power is OK then there may be a problem with the wall switch, but this is unlikely.

Once you're sure the fan is getting power, your only option is to go inside the case and check the wiring. The fans spin at high speed, often for hours, and a connection may have been lost.

Many modern ceiling fans have a hanging bracket that allows you to temporarily hang them from the mounting bracket while you disconnect the cords. If you don't have this, you'll likely need a helper to hold the fan while you unplug it.

Remove the motor housing and do a simple visual inspection. Look for obvious signs of shorts or open circuits. A very common problem with ceiling fan problems is a blown capacitor, but this is probably not the cause if the fan shows no signs of life. We'll talk about burned capacitors in detail shortly.

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If the wiring inside the motor housing looks good, check the connections in the roof electrical box. If there is no visible damage or obvious culprits, you should get out the voltmeter and start testing the connections.

Start at the fan motor. If you find that there is sufficient current going to the motor but nothing happens, the motor is roasted. Of course, electric induction motors can be repaired or replaced, but if they burn out, it is much more practical to replace the entire device.

Keep in mind that the most common cause of burned out fan motors is overheating from dust buildup.

The fan makes noise, but the blades do not rotate

If you turn on your fan and it hums or buzzes but the blades won't spin, a blown motor capacitor is most likely the culprit. These simply burn out from age or overheating and can be replaced for $8 or $10.

To check the capacitor, remove the motor housing. The capacitor is asmall black boxwhich attaches to the pull cable - if it blows nine times out of ten it's very obvious andvisibly destroyed or melted. Replacing is easy but requires cutting and splicing of wires. If you replace the capacitor,Make sureI hope you get the same one as above, or at least one with the same electrical requirements.Also, make sure the power is off at the circuit breaker before attempting any electrical work.

A rarer problem is a broken steering wheel. On some ceiling fan models, the blades are attached to a [[rubber flywheel]] rather than directly to the motor. Over time the flywheel can become brittle and break, in which case the electric motor would run but the blades would not be able to turn. If this is the case, replacing the flywheel is arelatively easy process.

It is also possible for the bearings in the motor to freeze. In this case, the blades cannot rotate even if you push them by hand. The bearings can be replaced, but in this case it is better to replace the entire fan.

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The fan hangs on one level.

This is another common problem that can be traced back to a blown capacitor 95% of the time. The capacitor determines how much power is delivered to the fan motor. If the capacitor burns out, only a small amount of current will reach the motor and the fan will freeze at low speed.

If the fan is stuck at high RPM, the capacitor is probably fine, but the pull wire it's attached to is probably broken or has come loose. In any case, the motor housing must be pulled off and a visual inspection must be carried out.

The pull cord has broken in the fan.

Depending on which setting the cable is snapped at (high/medium/low/off), the fan will get stuck in that position.

Depending on the model, the cable can be reconnected or the entire cable switching unit must be replaced. Replacement switches are only a few dollars, but require cutting and splicing wires.

*Remember: If you are replacing a part on your ceiling fan (e.g. capacitor or cord switch) that requires cords to be spliced, MAKE SURE THE CIRCUIT BREAKER IS TURNED OFF TO REMOVE THE POWER SUPPLY!*

AReplace cable switchYou need to remove the motor housing and then remove the small nut on the outside of the housing that holds the switch to the housing. Next, disconnect the wiring and install the replacement switch.

On many models, the cable switch housing is transparent and you can see inside to determine which position the fan is stuck in or if the cable can be retrieved or reconnected.


Wobbly or noisy fan

This is caused by unbalanced blades or loose bolts/connections somewhere within the assembly.

First check the entire ceiling fan assembly for loose bolts or connections and tighten anything that needs tightening. Use a tape measure to ensure all fan blades are the same distance from the ceiling. Also check the blades and their mounts to see if anything is bent, warped, or damaged.

If the fan still wobbles abnormally and there is nothing loose or bent, the fan may beSuspension ball on top of bottom bar(if you have one) has come loose from the slot it sits in. To check this, the base plate is removed from the ceiling and the connection to the mounting bracket is checked.

If nothing else is causing the wobble, aBalance-KitIt can be used to attach small adhesive weights to unbalanced fan blades. The equipment is cheap and veryEasy to use.

Forget the repair - replace my fan

If you've tried the above and haven't gotten very far with either solution, take our recommendation for the most efficient ceiling fan available today: Westinghouse Lighting 7801665 Comet 52-Inch Indoor Ceiling Fan, Matte Black.


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Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated: 02/19/2023

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