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Help! My Ceiling Fan Stopped Working: Troubleshooting Help

Dec 11, 2017


What's wrong with my ceiling fan?

Here’s something you may not know: changing the direction your ceiling fan can help keep you warmer in the winter.

Sounds strange, but it's true. You want your ceiling fan to spin counterclockwise in the summer, which pushes a cool draft into your room. In the winter, the blades should spin clockwise, which pushes the warm air near the ceiling — hot air rises, as we all learned in elementary school science class! — back towards the floor.

How do I reverse my ceiling fan? 

It’s easy. There should be a direction switch on the motor housing of your ceiling fan. Turn the fan off and allow the blades to still (very important), then use a stepstool or a chair to find the switch. Set it in the appropriate direction, and voila — just like that, you’re more energy efficient.


Dealing with a Broken Ceiling Fan

None of this information matters, of course, if your ceiling fan is broken, making weird noises or thumping like it’s about to come flying off the ceiling. In these cases, you may have stopped using your ceiling fan completely because you’re afraid something terrible is going to happen.
No need to worry — ceiling fan problems are actually pretty common. The issues are usually simple to troubleshoot, too. The solution can be as easy as a simple screw replacement or as complicated as a new look at your home’s wiring.
Is your ceiling fan dead? Rattling? Did the light stop working? There’s always an explanation. We’ve worked with customers across Northern Virginia, and our electricians in Warrenton and other local cities have seen everything that can go wrong with a ceiling fan. If it’s broken, we can fix it. And in some cases, so can you.

My ceiling fan stopped working.

You flip the wall switch and your ceiling fan doesn’t move. You yank the metal drawstring dangling from the motor housing and — nothing. Great. Your ceiling fan stopped working and you’re not sure what to do.
Here are the first things you can check before calling a local electrician:

1. Find the circuit breaker. Is the fan is receiving electrical power from the circuit breaker? The solution may be as simple as resetting a tripped breaker. If you live in an older house — and in cities like Washington, D.C., Alexandria, Fredericksburg, and Warrenton, for example, there are a lot of old homes — replace a blown fuse if needed.

2. Test the remote control (if you have one). Sometimes the answer is as simple as replacing the battery in your ceiling fan remote control. 

3. Check the directional switch. Remember that switch that could reverse the spin on your blades? It may have been accidentally set to neutral (it can happen, especially when someone is dusting or cleaning the fan blades). If it is, try flipping it several times to lock it into the right position.

4. Free the fan blades. Fan blades can get stuck — is anything blocking, hindering or preventing the motor from turning the blades? Be careful before sticking your hand into any tight spots or tinkering with the motor if you suspect something is jamming the fan blades. Turn off the electricity.

You can solve those problems yourself. However, you may need to call in a Warrenton electrician, or one of our five-star technicians in your town, if you run into one of these problems:
  • Your switch is broken. Run out of simple solutions? There’s a chance your switch isn’t receiving power, which, in turn, prevents your fan from working. We don’t recommend fooling with the switch’s wire connections. If you suspect your switch isn’t receiving power, contact a Warrenton electrician.
  • You have the wrong kind of fan. Not all fans are created equal. You can install damp- or wet-rated fans indoors — not a big deal — but you shouldn’t’ bring dry-rated fans outdoors. Moisture or direct contact with water can ruin the motor. If you have an overhead fan on your patio, porch or deck and it simply up and died, you may just have the wrong kind of fan.

My ceiling fan won’t stop humming.

Is your unit making a humming noise when it runs? Try tightening the parts. Sometimes, that faint humming noise can come from loose screws, bulbs, pins or blades. Tighten as needed.
Not an issue with tightness? The control may need to be replaced. Make sure it’s compatible with your fan and that it has an anti-hum feature. 
Quick tip: the amperage rating must be greater than your fan’s demands. If you have multiple fans or fans with lights, you may need special controls. Of course, this hint won’t work if your motor is dead.
Some fans require oil to perform. If your fan is one of them, check the oil level and replenish the oil as needed.
Finally, it’s time to look at the blades. Some blades will wear down over time, causing them to be quite noisy. If your blade is cracked, you’ll need to replace the damaged pieces with a new set. Just make sure the new parts come from the same brand (in order to assure quality).


My ceiling fan is shaking.

There may be a little wobble to your ceiling fan when it’s running at full speed. This alone is not a big deal. If the wobble becomes more of a shake, however, you could be putting yourself in a dangerous situation. Don’t mess around — find electricians in Warrenton you trust to fix the problem.
Here are some of the things that could be causing it to shake:
  • The outlet box. Is your fan hanging from a regular ceiling box instead of a box for fans? Fans exert more force on this box than an average light. If your unit isn’t fan-rated, it could shake itself loose and come crashing down.
  • Outlet box location. It’s incredibly important that your fan’s outer box is secured to a beam or support brace. If it is attached directly to the ceiling, it’ll do more than just wobble — this type of sloppy installation can cause your fan to damage your room’s ceiling and, again, come crashing down.
  • Loose screws. It’s natural for a few screws to turn loose as your fan is called into action time and time again. Check all of the screws in the light, mounting hardware, motor, and blade. Replace or tighten if necessary.
  • Dust. Dust is one of the main culprits behind (or, should we say, on top of) a wobbly fan. Give your fan’s blades a good cleaning to remove all dirt and debris. Be safe! Never try to clean a fan that’s too high to comfortably reach or a fan that you suspect has greater electrical issues.


My ceiling fan lights won’t turn on.

Uh, did you try changing the lightbulb? We’re not insulting your intelligence! Sometimes it’s easy to jump to a more complicated conclusion that the simple one staring you in the face.
Not the lightbulb? OK, next step. You may have some internal electrical issues. The heat generated by the fan’s electricity can expand and contract its electrical wires — this, in turn, may cause loose wire connections that lead to premature bulb failure.
Vibrations can also be a problem. It doesn’t take much vibrating to damage the delicate fire these bulbs use to provide light. Sometimes, loose paddles or other fan parts can cause more severe damage. You can reduce this failure by using fan-rated light bulbs. While they’re a bit more costly, can withstand these conditions.
If your light fixtures aren’t working throughout your entire home — not just your fan — it’s possible that you have an overlamping problem. If your voltage exceeds your bulb’s rating, they’ll burn out more quickly and may create fire hazards. To determine your voltage reading, contact a Warrenton electrician.

Fix your ceiling fan today.

Electrical work should always be trusted to a trained professional — it's not the type of DIY job you should attempt yourself. When you need electrical repair in Warrenton, trust the five-star technicians at CroppMetcalfe. Call us at 1-877-740-6657 or schedule service online now.


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