How to Fix a Noisy Ceiling Fan

How To Fix A Noisy Ceiling Fan

What is the one thing that almost everybody hopes for at the end of a hot and exhaustive summer day? For me, it has always been some cool air and silence. 

You see, I live in a big city where the weather is always hot, and the roads are always noisy. And because I work in an office, I also get tired by the end of the day. So, when I come home, all I want is to turn on the fan, sit on my chair and peacefully go through my Instagram feed with nothing to bother me. 

One day, I came home from the office, hoping to do the same. I walked in through the gate all exhausted, sweaty and flustered. My hair was tied up, sweat dripping off of my forehead, and I aggressively fanned myself with a magazine in my hand. I entered the living room and switched on the fan, and practically collapsed onto the sofa.  

A few minutes into my recuperation from the stress of the day and I heard something. It was the ceiling fan, the one and only source of heaving me out of the day’s misery. It was screeching and making a very weird sound that I could not recognize. My body had visibly receded into an embryo because I could not deal with another task after a whole day of working outside. 

So, I started doing some research to figure out a way to stop the noise. Because I was so tired, I had to give up and call an electrician to fix the problem, and he gave me some very sound advice. He told me of some ways that I could prevent, deal with and fix a noisy ceiling fan without professional help.   

To save you the time, money, and effort (and also the sheer misery if you live in a hot region), here is all you need to know on how to fix a noisy ceiling fan all by yourself. 

Materials needed: 

  • A ladder/stool or a table you can climb on top of 
  • A screwdriver 
  • Some will power 
  • Motor oil (you can also use any type of lubricant) 
  • A washcloth 
  • If it’s serious, an electrician!

Step 1: Figure out the cause of the noise 

ceiling fan

As awful as it sounds, a noisy ceiling fan can have various causes. So, the first step to dealing with the problem is to identify its source. Generally, there are a few common causes for a ceiling fan to make noise. And while these causes can be very banal, you may have to make some effort to test out which part of the fan is causing the noise to occur. 

The first and most common cause of the problem is a dimmer. A dimmer for a ceiling fan is that round button beside the switch that you rotate to control the fan’s speed. The dimmer works in a way that reduces or increases the electricity flow for the fan. So if you rotate it to the left, the fan will increase in speed, and if you rotate it to the right, it will decrease in speed. 

If you hear a humming sound coming from the ceiling fan, it is definitely a dimmer related issue. Did you know dimmers were never really intended to be used for ceiling fans? This is because the way they regulate current is not entirely safe for the fan, and so the more frequently you use, the dimmer, the higher the chances of the humming sound increasing. 

This sound can be very annoying if you are trying to sleep or if you intend on just having a peaceful day to yourself. Since the use of dimmers is technically inappropriate, you should immediately look to change the dimmers with standard speed controls, which means you need to get rid of the dimmer entirely to save yourself from the noise.   

Another major cause of noisy ceiling fans is a loose screw. A loose screw on a ceiling fan will not only create a screeching noise but will also pose a potential threat to your safety because the fan can fall at any moment. This is extremely dangerous. Usually, the fan will create a rattling sound or a screech, which means some parts of the fan are loose and are bumping into each other, hence the sound. So climb on top of that stool or table and inspect your fan.  

Finally, the third most popular cause of a noisy ceiling fan is a rusty or dysfunctional capacitor. A capacitor is basically the device that allows for electricity to flow through the switch to the fan for it to function. If the capacitor is rusty, the fan will not receive adequate voltage, which will cause the motor to struggle. And a struggling motor tends to be a noisy one. 

Step 2: Clean out your workspace 

clean fan blades

Did you know that ceiling fans generate a lot of static electricity in their blades? This is usually why you see a lot of dust collecting on them, even though they spin throughout the day. Unfortunately, this is also the part of the house that is most often neglected, and the dust keeps collecting on them until there is a thick mound of dirt that you have to eventually deal with. 

I don’t know about you, but I can be very lazy in these matters, and I certainly had to confront a very disturbing situation when I got on top of the table to inspect the blades. Nonetheless, cleaning them is an integral part of the process if you want to eliminate the noise. You can use a washcloth, a towel, or any other fabric to clean up the blades and the stem of the fan. Just make sure you do it thoroughly. 

Once you are done, you will be able to see a clean fan, which for most of you may be a first. Just kidding, unless you’re anything like me. Anyway, you can now locate any problems that the fan may be posing. There is also usually a little opening between the base of the fan and the stem through which you can see the motor and the wiring. 

Step 3: Locate the problem and fix it

clean fan

Now that you have a clean fan, you can grab onto the blades, the motor, or the stem to see the exact issue and then fix it. So, the first thing you do is that examine the blades and rotate them with your hand. You can also slightly move them up and down to see if there is any inconsistency in the rotation. 

It often happens that due to the speed of the rotating blades, the screws that mount the blades to the fan’s base can loosen, and this can make very annoying noises. So, all you have to do is grab your screwdriver and start tightening the screws on the blades. To add a safety measure, just start tightening any screws you see because you never know which screw might be in the initial stages of loosening. 

Next, if you can see the motor on the base of the fan, and if it is visibly rusty, then just oil it. In fact, oil it even if you don’t see the rust. Oiling your motor is very important, and it is frequently suggested that you should do it at least once every few weeks. My electrician was the one to recommend this trick because it allows for the fan to spin more smoothly. 

Oiling your motor has many other benefits attached to it. Not only will it allow for the fan to spin smoothly, but it will also reduce friction between the gears of the motor. Oil is essentially a lubricant. It helps reduce friction between things. So, if your fan is making noise, especially if it is a screech, you can be sure that the motor’s friction is high. 

To curb this matter, use oil. It will create space for the motor to swiftly function. Oiling also helps with the fan speed. If you notice that the fan is getting slower every passing week and making a sound, then it’s highly likely that the motor has a problem. So, oiling it will increase the speed because nothing will be restricting the fan from rotating now. 

I would like to add a point from earlier here, that too much dust and dirt can often cause friction in the motor. And if the dust gets stuck in the little crevices of the fan, then it can be very difficult for it to gain back its speed. So, you should clean your fan very frequently. Oiling also helps in the cleaning process, by the way.   

Doing these simple things should help you alleviate your noisy ceiling fan problems. After that day, I have sworn to regularly clean my fan. And of course, by regularly, I mean hopefully once a month. Nonetheless, you should all be aware of this simple fact and take note to clean your fan today. 

Step 4: Call the mechanic if it’s a wiring or capacitor issue 

clean fan fix mechanic

Finally, if you think the noise is coming because of a voltage issue or if the dimmer is causing problems, you should call for professional help. Unless you are well trained in the mystic arts of fixing ceiling fans, you should never venture into wiring problems because it can be very, very harmful. You could get a shock or even an injury, and trust me, you don’t want that. 

So, call for professional help. What they essentially do is that the ceiling fan comes off. They open up the parts and change the rusty wiring of the inner machine. They then change the capacitor of the fan. Honestly, I had never seen a capacitor before the electrician showed it to me. But it’s not too scary to look at, so I was fine. 

After they replace the capacitor, they will most likely change the dimmer and fix your voltage issue. A bad voltage is usually because your wires may have deteriorated, melted down, or broken up inside the rubber casing. In this case, the electrician will simply replace the old wires with new ones for a better flow of current. But all this can be prevented if you simply clean your fan. 

All in all, had I been aware of the fact that I should clean my fan regularly, I may never have had to face this issue. But now that you all know what to do, I hope you can work on making sure that the blades remain clean and the screws are always tight, and you will never have to hear annoying noises from your ceiling fan. 

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