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Ceiling Fan Troubleshooting 101

Helpful Tips and Solutions to Common Fan Problems

 

Over the years, we've encountered our fair share of ceiling fan troubles, but we've learned from our experiences and want to share with you what we've discovered along the way. We've compiled our best ceiling fan troubleshooting tips to help you identify and fix the most common ceiling fan problems. As always, use caution when working on your ceiling fan and turn the power off at the circuit breaker box to prevent any injuries.

Common Ceiling Fan Problems

Click on the links below to determine the cause of a ceiling fan problem and how to fix it:

 

Ceiling Fan is Not Working

Ceiling Fan is Wobbling

Ceiling Fan is Noisy

Ceiling Fan Speeds are Not Working

Fan Light Kit is Not Working

Ceiling Fan is Not Reversing

Ceiling Fan is Turning On/Off

Ceiling Fan has Airflow Issues

 


If your ceiling fan will not start, use the steps below to determine cause of the problem:

 

Ceiling Fan Is Not Working

 

  1. Check the circuit breaker to confirm the power is on. If the circuit breaker tripped, reset the breaker. If there are any blown fuses, replace the damaged fuses.
  2. Turn the power off the circuit breaker. Loosen the canopy, check all the wire connections are correctly assembled and secured with wire nuts.
  3. Make sure the fan blades spin freely. Pull the pull chain to make sure it is on.
  4. Confirm the reverse switch is not in a neutral position. Flip the switch several times to lock into position.
  5. Verify the plug connection in switch housing is securely fastened and all color-coded cables are aligned.
  6. If you have the electrical know-how, check the wall switch for power. If you are inexperienced in this area, call an electrician to check the wire connections. An electrician can diagnose the issue at a reasonable cost.
  7. If you are using a remote control, check that the batteries are installed properly and are not dead. Check that the dip switches on the remote and receiver are set to the same frequency.
  8. If you’re using a wall control, check the power to the breaker from your control and try working your ceiling fan manually.
  9. If your ceiling fan is located in a damp or wet environment, confirm the fan and outlet box is UL rated for that environment. While damp-rated and wet-rated ceiling fans can be installed indoors, dry-rated fans should not be installed outdoors as these fans are not equipped to withstand moisture or direct contact with water.

 

If your ceiling fan is new, go through each of the steps listed above. If the issue is not resolved, contact your ceiling fan manufacturer and explain the problem as this is most likely an issue with the specific model. Many manufacturers offer a limited or lifetime warranty on the ceiling fan.

 

If you have older ceiling fan, perhaps it's time to upgrade to a new ceiling fan. See Del Mar Fans & Lighting's selection of ceiling fans online.

 


If your ceiling fan wobbles or shakes, it may be due to several factors such as bent blade brackets, loose screws, or dusty or warped fan blades. Use the steps below to determine the cause of the problem:
 

Ceiling Fan Wobbles

 

  1. Remove any dirt or debris from all fan blades. See Del Mar Fans & Lighting's article on how to clean a ceiling fan for helpful cleaning and dusting tips.
  2. Tighten any loose screws on the light kit, fan blades, motor coupling, downrod, and mounting hardware.
  3. Confirm the hanger ball is firmly seated in the mounting bracket.
  4. Confirm the outlet box is ceiling fan-rated and designed to support the ceiling fan's weight.
  5. Confirm the outlet box is securely attached to a beam or a support brace. If the outlet box is installed directly to the ceiling, this could cause wobbling and eventually damage the ceiling.

 

If wobbling persists, see Del Mar Fans & Lighting's guide on how to balance your ceiling fan for assistance.

 


Many people find the gentle whooshing of a ceiling fan soothing; however, anything louder can be a sign of a serious problem. To determine the cause of your noisy fan, use the steps below:

 

Noisy Ceiling Fans

 

  1. If you've recently installed the fan, allow 24 hours for the ceiling fan to adjust.
  2. If your ceiling fan has a light kit, tighten any loose screws securing the glassware. Confirm the light bulbs are firmly threaded into the socket.
  3. If you're using a wall control, make sure the control is not a variable speed type.
  4. If your ceiling fan has an oil bath, check the oil level and replenish oil as needed.
  5. Locate and tighten any loose screws on lower switch housing, blade holders, motor coupling, and downrod. Confirm all pins are firmly in place.
  6. Verify the wire connections are not rattling against each other or the interior wall of the switch housing. Verify wire nuts have not fallen off.
  7. Confirm the canopy is not touching the ceiling while the fan is in operation.
  8. Verify the fan blades are not cracked. If the fan blades are cracked, replace the damaged blades with a new blade set from the same brand as your ceiling fan to ensure compatibility. See Del Mar Fans & Lighting's selection of stylish ceiling fan blades.

 


If your ceiling fan's speed settings are not working properly, you may notice a sharp change in the airflow. To determine the cause of the fan speed malfunction, follow the steps below:

 

Ceiling Fan Speeds Not Working

 

  1. Clean and lubricate the ball bearings
  2. Replace the ceiling fan capacitor

 

If does not resolve the issue, follow the steps below:

 

  1. Run the ceiling fan for a few minutes.
  2. Turn off the ceiling fan and allow the blades to come to a full stop.
  3. Feel the motor housing to determine if it's hot (be careful not to burn yourself). If the motor housing is hot, the bearings are shot and the motor needs to be replaced. To replace the motor, contact the ceiling fan manufacturer directly. Many ceiling fan manufacturers offer a limited or lifetime warranty on the motor. To ensure that your ceiling fan will work for years to come purchase a Minka Aire ceiling fan.

 


If your ceiling fan is operating correctly, but the light kit fails, use the steps below to determine the cause:

 

Light Not Working

 

  1. Check that the light bulb is securely fastened into the socket. Confirm the bulb has not burned out. If so, turn the power off and replace the light bulb. Restore power and resume normal use.
  2. Be careful not to over tighten the light bulb into the socket. This can cause the light bulb to flatten a small tab in the light sockets interior, causing the socket to fail and preventing ceiling fan from powering the light. Turn off the power and use a small knife or screwdriver to pull the tab up.
  3. Inspect the light bulb sockets for charred or burn marks. If so, you may have a short in the wiring and you will need to fix or replace the wiring.
  4. Verify the light bulb's wattage does not exceed the light kit's wattage limit. Some ceiling fans are equipped with a wattage limiting device, which disables the fan's light kit. If so, turn the power off and replace the light bulb, keeping the wattage under the recommended watts. Restore the power and resume normal operation.
  5. Verify the wires in canopy and switch housing are wired properly and secured with wire nuts. Generally, the blue wire controls the light kit.
  6. If you are using a remote or wall control to operate the light kit, confirm the dip switches on the receiver and control are set to the same frequency.

 


If you've attempted to reverse your ceiling fan for the winter, but noticed no change in the direction of the fan blades, there could be several causes. Turn off the ceiling fan and allow the blades to come to a full stop before flipping the switch. Follow the steps below to determine the cause:

 

Ceiling Fan Is Not Reversing

 

  1. Confirm the reverse switch is not in a neutral position. Flip the switch several times to make sure it is the right place.
  2. If you have an older ceiling fan, the switch may be worn out. In this case, replace the reverse switch.
  3. If you are using a remote or wall control to reverse the ceiling fan, confirm the dip switches on the control and receiver are set to the same frequency.
  4. If your ceiling fan is brand new, contact the manufacturer for a replacement fan.

 

See Del Mar Fans & Lighting's article on how to reverse your ceiling fan.

 


If your ceiling fan and light kit turn on and off by themselves, don't be alarmed as this is more common than you may think. Use the following tips to identify the cause:

 

Fan/Light Turns On and Off By Itself

 

  1. Confirm the circuit breaker is not malfunctioning.
  2. Verify the wire connections are not frayed and are securely connected with wire nuts.
  3. Remote and wall controls often come with default factory settings. So if your neighbors recently purchased a new fan, they could very well be controlling yours. When installing a new ceiling fan, create a unique frequency. See Del Mar Fans & Lighting's article on how to change the frequency on your fan remote.

 


If your ceiling fan is not moving air, use the steps below to determine the cause:

 

Airflow Issues

 

  1. Confirm the ceiling fan is spinning in the right direction. See Del Mar Fans & Lighting's article on ceiling fan direction.
  2. Verify the ceiling fan is suspended to hang between 7-8 feet from the floor so the air is reaching the ground. Also, a fan that is too close to the ceiling or wall will provide poor airflow. See Del Mar Fans & Lighting's ceiling fan installation guide for additional tips.
  3. Consider using a longer downrod that allows the ceiling fan to hang at least eight - nine feet from the floor.
  4. If you have an older ceiling fan, turn it off for a few minutes and then carefully touch the base to see if it's hot. If so, you may need a new fan motor or bearings.

 

Do you have a ceiling fan problem that is not listed above? Let us know! Leave a comment below.

Aleem Goolam
MY CEILING FAN WORK OK WHEN U PUT IT ON BUT AFTER 30 MINUTES YOU CANT FEEL THE AIRFLOW AT ALL
February 13, 2014 at 7:23 am
Ronnie J. Moss
The fan part is working fine. The light is blinking like a strobe light. This fan has no dimmer or hand-held controls. It is on a three-way switch. Can't be a short because the st-robing is to uniform. This fan two years old and has been working fine till now.
February 20, 2014 at 12:19 pm
Yira Rawlins-Prins
My ceiling fan stop spinning. I thought it was the switch and I replaced it. After replacement it still doesn't work. What else can I check for in order to get this ceiling fan working.
March 20, 2014 at 6:13 pm
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hello Yira, Thank you for the great question. If the ceiling fan is still inoperable after replacing the switch, you will want to examine the wire connections in the fan housing to confirm they are not loose or disconnected. Secure any loose or disconnected wires with wire nuts. You will also want to check the circuit breaker box for any blow or damaged fuses. We hope this help!
March 24, 2014 at 11:50 am
James Ricketts Jr.
When ceiling fan is spinning the wires are spinning also how do I stop the wires from spinning
April 23, 2014 at 1:55 am
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hi James, Thank you for the question. In order to better assist you, could you clarify which wires are spinning?
April 23, 2014 at 11:02 am
Earl Clark
what did you find out about the fan problem...I have one doing the exact same thing...what was the fix ?
May 1, 2014 at 8:33 pm
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hello Earl, Thank you for the great question. Fan lights may flash on and off for several reasons. The first cause is high-wattage light bulbs. Ceiling fans include limiters that cut off the power when the light kit consumes too much power. Check the owner’s manual for the wattage limit and verify that the bulbs do not exceed the manufacturer’s limit. The second cause is loose light bulbs. Fans vibrate when operating and if the light bulbs are loose, the lights may flash on and off. Check the bulbs are firmly screwed into the socket. The third cause is loose wire connections. Verify the wires in the motor housing are secure with wire nuts. Electrical tape around the wire connectors will keep the connections secure.
May 5, 2014 at 10:18 am
Thina Bear Singletary
Light working blades not
June 2, 2014 at 5:39 pm
Pat Venier
I have a 25 yr old Dynasty fan that was in a bedroom and was literally soundless, all I could ever hear was the air. I moved the fan to a different bedroom & now the motor kinda has a hum to it which was not there before it was moved. I can no longer leave the fan on at night because of the humming noise. Any idea's on getting my noiseless motor back? Thanks Pat
June 3, 2014 at 12:11 pm
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hello Thina, Thanks for the great question. Could you tell us whether you are able to move the fan blades manually? If the blades do not move, it may be a sign of bad bearings. If the blades do spin, it may be a sign that capacitor needs to replacing. We hope this helps!
June 6, 2014 at 4:24 pm
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hello Pat, Thanks for the great question. Ceiling fans can make noises for a number of reasons. However, the most common cause is loose screws, wires, or wire nuts. Since you’ve moved the ceiling fan from one bedroom to another, verify that all the screws on the canopy, downrod, motor housing and fan blades are secure. In addition, verify the connections in the motor housing are secure. We hope this helps!
June 6, 2014 at 4:46 pm
Rhonda Swanson Rusk
I have a new Hunter ceiling fan that we installed in a bedroom. The fan has a dimmer switch built into the pull chain of the fan. The electrical source for this fan also feeds a 2 - way switch for our hallway light. The hallway light now pulses on and off and will only work if the fan is turned off. The pulsing stops and a steady light will go if we flip the switch. We are 99% certain this has to do with the dimmer switch in the fan and that set-up. We are trying to figure out how to by-pass the dimmer--any suggestions?
August 10, 2014 at 7:08 pm
Rani Bambrah-Jandu
we have fan 1 year old all of sudden lights stopped working, we change the bulbs and also change the switch but still not working please give us suggestion. Please let me know if fan could be on dimmer switch or not?
August 11, 2014 at 8:57 pm
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hi Ranni, Thanks for the question. In this case, we recommend having an electrician look at the ceiling fan. If this is not an option, test to the fan to see if it’s getting any power. If it is, the fan may be defective and you should return the fan to the store where you purchased it for replacement. We hope this helps.
August 21, 2014 at 10:29 am
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hi Rhonda, It sounds like you have a complex situation there. Our best recommendation would be have an electrician look at it. If that is not an option you may be able to add another switch for the fan and leave the hallway light on its own switch. We are not sure how you would by pass the fan dimmer unless you simply did not run power to it by not connecting the blue wire that comes out of the fan.
August 21, 2014 at 10:30 am
Megan Ann Anderson
My ceiling fan works great! It's not too noisy, lights work, everything. What happens to us is that the fan seems to wobble for several seconds at a time, and then stop. These wobblings (shakings? Vibrations?) Come suddenly without warning and then stop just as suddenly. It's almost as if someone is walking on the ceiling above the room and is jumping up and down to make the fan shake. Do you know what this is? This happens several times throughout the day. When these shakings are not occurring, the fan works perfectly, it sits flush against the ceiling and has only been installed for a couple months, and until about a month ago we didn't have this problem. Any insights would be appreciated! Thanks!
September 4, 2014 at 1:26 am
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hi Megan, Thanks for the great question. Your ceiling fan could be wobbling because it's out of balance, which can be caused by dusty fan blades or bent blade brackets. First, we recommend giving the fan a good dusting. If the wobbling continues, next, check for bent blade brackets and gently bend the blade bracket(s) back into place. If the problem persists, you may need to use a blade balancing kit to stabilize the fan. Most ceiling fans include a balancing kit in the original packaging, but you could purchase one from your local home improvement store. Finally, watch our video on how to use the blade balancing kit: http://www.delmarfans.com/educate/basics/how-to-balance-a-ceiling-fan/. We hope this helps!
September 9, 2014 at 10:12 am
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hello Parth, Thanks for the great question. In order to better assist you, could you tell us whether the ceiling fan and the lighting kit are working independently? Or are they turning on/off simultaneously? If they're turning on/off at the same time, it may be an issue with the wiring. We recommend checking the wire connections in canopy and the switch housing. Make sure all connections are secure with wire nuts. Additionally, make sure the grounded wires are separate from the ungrounded wires in the outlet box. We hope this helps!
September 9, 2014 at 10:59 am
Skip Scianna
A I changed a light in a ceiling fan(has four lights) and I used the wrong type of replacement bulb and it blew all 4 of the lights?? HELP.. Any ideas what I should do next..
September 9, 2014 at 11:42 pm
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hello Skip, Thanks for the great question. First, we recommend checking the sockets to determine if they are charred or burned. If they're not damaged, replace the burned out bulbs with new ones. Make sure the wattage does not exceed the manufacturer's recommendation, and do not over tighten the bulbs. If the sockets are damaged, we recommend replacing the light sockets or the light kit altogether. We hope this helps!
September 10, 2014 at 10:27 am
Angela Clark
i have a problem with the speed of my fan, how can i increase its speed...? tri-staterepairs
September 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hello Angela, Thanks for the great question. If your ceiling fan is running slow on all speeds, we recommend replacing the capacitor on the fan. The capacitor is a small black box located in the switch housing. Replacing the fan capacitor is a relatively easy and inexpensive fix, but if you’re unsure of where to start, we recommend hiring a licensed professional. We hope this helps!
September 15, 2014 at 10:34 am
Jake Haslebacher
Hello, I have a Hampton Bay ceiling fan. About a year ago, the blades stopped spinning. Oddly enough, the BASE spins and whips the pulley chains against each other and the glass where the bulbs are located. It makes an awful noise and I have to turn it off immediately. Any idea what the heck could cause this BACKWARD type of operation? Google has failed me...for once.
September 16, 2014 at 6:36 pm
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Hi Jake, You are certainly facing a unique situation. If your light kit is spinning, but the fan blades are not, this could indicate a faulty wiring issue. It could also indicate a hardware issue such as missing screws and bolts in the light kit. We recommend reviewing the wiring and installation. We hope this helps!
September 18, 2014 at 5:00 pm
Jake Haslebacher
Del Mar Fans & Lighting Thanks for the advice! Took the unit apart and found a black wire completely severed. Waiting for an extra hand to help me reattach the twist wire nuts then will test. Fingers crossed. It would appear I owe you one.
September 18, 2014 at 10:24 pm
Del Mar Fans & Lighting
Be safe and best of luck Jake Haslebacher .
September 19, 2014 at 9:37 am
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