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
Fan Not Working
If your ceiling fan will not start, use the steps below to determine cause of the problem:
- 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.
- Turn the power off the circuit breaker. Loosen the canopy, check all the wire connections are correctly assembled and secured with wire nuts.
- Make sure the fan blades spin freely. Pull the pull chain to make sure it is on.
- Confirm the reverse switch is not in a neutral position. Flip the switch several times to lock into position.
- Verify the plug connection in switch housing is securely fastened and all color-coded cables are aligned.
- 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.
- 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.
- If you’re using a wall control, check the power to the breaker from your control and try working your ceiling fan manually.
- 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 an older ceiling fan, perhaps it's time to upgrade to a new ceiling fan.
Wobbling Ceiling Fan
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:
- 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.
- Tighten any loose screws on the light kit, fan blades, motor coupling, downrod, and mounting hardware.
- Confirm the hanger ball is firmly seated in the mounting bracket.
- Confirm the outlet box is ceiling fan-rated and designed to support the ceiling fan's weight.
- 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.
Noisy Ceiling Fan
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:
- If you've recently installed the fan, allow 24 hours for the ceiling fan to adjust.
- 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.
- If you're using a wall control, make sure the control is not a variable speed type.
- If your ceiling fan has an oil bath, check the oil level and replenish oil as needed.
- Locate and tighten any loose screws on lower switch housing, blade holders, motor coupling, and downrod. Confirm all pins are firmly in place.
- 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.
- Confirm the canopy is not touching the ceiling while the fan is in operation.
- 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.
Ceiling Fan Speeds Not Working
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:
- Clean and lubricate the ball bearings
- Replace the ceiling fan capacitor
If does not resolve the issue, follow the steps below:
- Run the ceiling fan for a few minutes.
- Turn off the ceiling fan and allow the blades to come to a full stop.
- 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.
Fan Light Not Working
If your ceiling fan is operating correctly, but the light kit fails, use the steps below to determine the cause:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Verify the wires in canopy and switch housing are wired properly and secured with wire nuts. Generally, the blue wire controls the light kit.
- 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.
Fan Not Reversing
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:
- Confirm the reverse switch is not in a neutral position. Flip the switch several times to make sure it is the right place.
- If you have an older ceiling fan, the switch may be worn out. In this case, replace the reverse switch.
- 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.
- 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.
Fan/Light Turns On and Off By Itself
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:
- Confirm the circuit breaker is not malfunctioning.
- Verify the wire connections are not frayed and are securely connected with wire nuts.
- 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:
- Confirm the ceiling fan is spinning in the right direction. See Del Mar Fans & Lighting's article on ceiling fan direction.
- 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.
- Consider using a longer downrod that allows the ceiling fan to hang at least eight - nine feet from the floor.
- 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.