Usually, a slight wobble when the ceiling fan is on is not a cause for concern. After all, it is essentially a spinning motor hanging down from your ceiling, with blades attached for air circulation.
You can typically observe minor wobbling for up to 1/8th inch at the highest speed setting. However, if the appliance wobbles relentlessly every time it is on, it could be potentially dangerous to use and need immediate attention.
Luckily, troubleshooting a ceiling fan wobble is inexpensive and does not require fancy tools or extensive handyman knowledge. Read on as we explain what causes ceiling fan blades to shake and how you can fix the issue.
Quick Diagnostic Tests for A Wobbling Ceiling Fan
Before we go into detail about what usually causes ceiling fans to shake and wobble, let’s first discuss some quick diagnostic tests to get to the root of the problem.
- Make sure the fan brace or the fan box does not require tightening.
- Ensure the fan blades show no signs of damage like bends or cracks.
- Check if all the fan blades are at the same height from the ceiling.
- Ensure no loose screws are holding the fan blades to the blade irons.
- Make sure the fan’s hanging bracket is seated snuggly inside the ball socket that comes with a downrod ceiling fan.
Once you have made these checks, you will probably find one or more problems with a wobbly fan. Keep reading to find the solutions and learn about the issues in detail.
5 Reasons for A Wobbly Ceiling Fan and How to Fix Them
Here are some of the most common reasons that cause your ceiling fan to wobble and shake.
1. Loose Fan Mount Or Support Bracket
Often, a ceiling fan glides back and forth when you switch it on because it is not attached to a fan box (also known as the fan brace). Instead, many ceiling fans are bound to electrical boxes suitable for light fixtures.
If you find that your ceiling fan is mounted on an electrical box, you need to replace it with a fan brace or box. This step is essential because these specially made boxes provide the necessary support for ceiling fans’ supposed weight, which an electrical box cannot.
If you find that the ceiling fan is attached to a fan brace, see if it needs tightening, and do so. Then, the next step is to check the fan support bracket. Ideally, you should not be able to move it easily. Tighten the support bracket to fix the wobbly ceiling fan.
2. Unbalanced Fan Blades
Most ceiling fans rock back and forth unnecessarily due to unbalanced fan blades. Naturally, if your ceiling fan blades are not balanced, it will affect the movement of the entire fan. Sometimes, the weight of the fan blades changes over time due to various reasons (like water in wooden blades evaporating differently).
In such a case, you can use a blade balancing kit or make do with items like coins to add weight to the fan blades until you find the optimum weight balance for a reduced fan wobble.
Using A Fan Blade Balancing Kit
A typical fan blade balancing kit has three balancing weights and a plastic balancing clip. Most modern fans these days include such kits; however, you can also buy them from home improvement stores very easily.
To fix a wobbly ceiling fan, ensure which speed causes the shaking issue. Usually, the highest speed causes the most wobble. Make sure the power is off when you start placing the plastic clip. Start with a single blade, placing the balancing clip on the edge midway between the blade holder and tip.
Turn the fan on and see if the wobble has gone. If not, move the clip up and down to find the spot, adding stability to the fan movement. Be careful when switching the fan on and off while balancing. Only touch the blades when the power is cut. When you are done with one blade, repeat the process for the rest of the blades. When you know which blade is causing the wobble, stick the balancing weight in the center, parallel to the balancing clip.
Alternatively, you can also do the same with a few coins.
All you need apart from a few coins is masking tape. Stick the coin in different places on a single blade, starting from the middle. Sometimes, you need to use more than one coin on one blade until the wobbling stops.
3. Fan Blade Alignment Issues
Another reason for a shaking ceiling fan is the lack of alignment of the fan’s blades. All the fan blades should be at the same height from the ceiling, with a leverage of 1/4th inch.
You can measure the fan blade alignment using a yardstick and move the fan slowly to see where the blades hit the stick. Since fan blades are usually angled, make sure you measure the same point of the blade edge from the same place at the ceiling.
If you can see a significant difference between the fan blades, loosen them from the blade holders that attach them to the fan motor by unscrewing the bolts. Now, align them accordingly and firmly tighten all the screws back to the blade holders.
4. Fans Blades are Warped Or Bent
Bent or warped blades can also cause the fan to move unnaturally.
Sometimes, carefully bending the blade can help align and straighten out the shape, but you have to be careful not to damage the edge or blade holder. You have to be most careful around the blade base where it attaches to the blade holder.
However, if the blades are too warped or you see signs of other damage like cracks on the blade edge or the holder, it is better to ask for a replacement from the manufacturer.
5. A Dirty Ceiling Fan
Sometimes, a simple fix such as cleaning the dirt and gunk off the blades and motor is all you need for the ceiling fan to function correctly. If you haven’t cleaned your fan in some time, the dirt on the blade, blade iron, and the motor housing can shift the gravity center, causing the fan to rattle.
Clean the fan blades with a dry microfiber cloth. To clean the motor housing, you will probably need to unscrew it from the ceiling.
Youtube tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRGMQOyt_18
A shaking ceiling fan can be as dangerous as it can be annoying. It is best to deal with the problem head on and check for potential issues that cause the fan to sway relentlessly.
Ensure the fan is attached to a fan box instead of an electrical box. Also, see that everything is tightened, from the motor to the ceiling and the blades to the blade holders. Check to see if, over time, fan blades have become unbalanced and rectify the problem with weights that come with a balancing kit or use coins.
If needed, check the balance for all the blades and use more than one weight.
Ensure the blades are all the same height from the ceiling and each other. Fix any bent blades by either manipulating them slightly or asking for a replacement from the manufacturer.
Also, see the blades and the motor do not have any dirt hindering the performance or weighing them down.