How to Balance a Ceiling Fan and Other Fan-Maintenance Tips
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How to Balance a Ceiling Fan and Other Fan-Maintenance Tips

How to balance ceiling fans to prevent wobbling and protect the motor bearings. Unbalanced ceiling fans can pose an increased risk to building occupants it they become loosened to the point they detach from the electrical box.

Most people who have installed or replaced a ceiling fan probably never attempted to check the fan for balance after everything was secure and they turned it on. Most people assume that the gentle wobble they notice while fan is running is a quaint idiosyncrasy of all ceiling fans. However, this is not the case; for over time the blades become loose and dust builds up on the surface of the blades, causing the entire unit to wobble. If this continues it will prematurely wear out the fan bearings or wear away the screws holding it in place and cause the fan to come crashing down, potentially injuring someone seriously. A quick refresher course on how to balance a ceiling fan and a few maintenance tips will keep cool breezes blowing and save you a trip to the emergency room.


If tightening the screws on the blade brackets and wiping dust off the blades don't solve the problem, here are a few directions to get the fan back on track.

1. Place a numbered piece of masking tape on each blade so you don't loose track of which blade is which. It may be helpful to place the tape on different angles so it will be easier to pick out the offending blade.

2. Use a ruler or tape measure to measure the distance between each blade's leading edge and the ceiling. The leading edge should be the edge closest to the ceiling. Keep the ruler vertical and always measure from the same spot on the ceiling, using your hand to rotate the blades to measure each one. If an edge is far out of line with the others, try to gently bend the blade's bracket up or down by hand, then turn on the fan at LOW speed and observe the operation from a ladder that is far enough away, but at eye level with the blades. Find a point of reference on an opposite wall to help you keep track of each blade's level. The top of a window or a door casing is a good choice.

3. If the fan continues to wobble, buy a blade-balancing kit from a home center, hardware store, or the fan's manufacturer. If you can find the weights that came with the fan, use them. Take a balancing clip out and place it in the middle of the trailing edge of the blade you think is wobbling. Run the fan and look at it from a ladder to see just how the extra weight affects it. Turn the fan off and slide the weight either out toward the end or back toward the motor. See if there's a change. Continue moving and testing the clip's position on this blade or others, if necessary, until the wobbling stops.

4. Use a piece of masking tape to secure one of the kit's weights to the top of the blade's centerline, in line with the clip. Remove the clip and see how the fan runs. If this corrects the problem, use a pencil to mark an outline around the weight, remove the tape, and stick the weight permanently to the blade. Do this on as many blades as necessary, until the fan runs smoothly. You may have to add more than one weight to a blade.

Routine Maintenance Tips

The best time to inspect your ceiling fan is the time between the heating and cooling season. By switching the rotation of the fan blades in the winter, you can force the buoyant warm air off the ceiling where it can be felt by you and your family. While you are up there changing the position of the directional switch, consider a light coat of polish such as furniture polish on the top and bottom surfaces. This will make the blade look better and it will also slightly improve the efficiency because it cuts down on resistance.

Check each of the mounting screws to make sure that they are tight. If you’ve begun to hear a mild ticking noise as the fan rotates, chances are that there are loosened screws. Loose screws can result in a blade wobble or the fan itself beginning to vibrate.

If your fan has a down rod, or down rod extension, make sure that the cotter pin, clip and setscrew are secure and not worn through. The bottom of the ceiling fan should be no lower than 7 feet, including the light kit.

Finally check the decorative plate that rests against the ceiling. It should be firmly attached. If it’s not, it will probably be necessary to remove the blades and motor housing to get at the decorative plate. Make sure that it’s tight against the ceiling before putting the fan back together.

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Comments (2)
jimo oestreich

will painting a ceiling fan effect the cooling of the housing?

I have painted my fan and after it runs about 1/2 hour it seams

to be overly warm. It then starts to make noise like a bearing or

motor problem exists.

Depending on how old the fan is, it might be a bearing problem regardless of the paint. Painting the blades may make the fan unbalanced as you may have more paint on one or two blades. You can try to replace the blades with new ones and see if that helps. Vacuum out the slots around the motor too. If none of this works, it may be time to replace it.