Messages Archive 2007

How to fix wobbly ceiling fan

A.J. Hamler
>To fix a wobbling or shaking fan, the first thing to realize is that you may be spending a lot of time up near the ceiling. Don't attempt to correct a wobbly fan unless you have a good, stable ladder to work on. Although possible to fix on your own, the help of a second person is a huge asset. Here are the probable causes in the easiest and most likely order to check.

To begin, loose connections anywhere in the system can cause wobbling. Check all screws and bolts securing the blades to the irons and the irons to the motor. Check the ceiling mounting, down rods and the motor housing. There should be some amount of play in the entire system, but if any one component is loose, tighten it securely.

There are several causes for a wobbling or shaking ceiling fan, but the most likely cause is that the blades are misaligned. And the most likely cause of blade misalignment is that the mounting brackets -- called blade irons -- are bent. So how did the blades get out of alignment? Any number of ways. The weight of the blades over the years may have put more stress on one blade iron than the others. One or more of the irons may have been bent while cleaning or even during the original installation (this latter cause is very common). If the blades have ever been hit or bumped by hand, broom or any other object, it may have deflected one blade up or another blade down... or both. Finally, one of the irons may be cracked or broken.

Sometimes, it's easy enough to check alignment by slowly spinning the blades by hand and observing how they turn - a low or high blade is sometimes obvious. If not, have your helper hold a yardstick against the ceiling at the end tip of one of the blades. (You can also use a broom handle or any long pole or stick.) Note or mark where the blade tip meets the yardstick. Now turn the fan by hand till the next blade meets the yardstick -- is it at the same spot, or is it higher or lower? If it doesn't hit that same spot, congratulations: You've just determined that your blades are misaligned. With your helper holding the yardstick, straighten each of the misaligned blades in turn until all are exactly even with the mark on the yardstick. Straighten the blades by hold the fan motor securely with one hand to keep it steady, then gently lift or lower the blade to correct it. Do this very carefully, just a little bit at a time; overdo it, and you might snap the blade iron. When all the blades are at the same level, test the fan. This will most likely fix the problem.

Wobbling can also be cause by unbalanced or warped fan blades. If your blades are correctly aligned as per the above instructions, check each blade by sighting along its length. If the blade is bent or twisted, it's time to get a new set of blades. Be careful when removing the old blades and attaching the new ones that you don't bend the blade irons. If the blades are unwarped and aligned, it's possible that the blades aren't balanced. If that's the case, then a blade balancing kit may fix the problem. All fan manufacturers offer these kits, and you can find one at your local Home Depot. Follow the instructions for balancing that come with the kit.

And finally, it's possible that the motor is out-of-balance. Although this isn't likely - very few motors leave the factory out-of-balance - it can easily be checked by removing the blades and irons, and running the fan without them. If everything is secure and all screws and connections are tight, and the fan still wobbles or shakes, then the motor may be the problem. However, an out-of-balance motor is so uncommon, that it's best to do this test last.

Hope this helps.


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