How to Fix Ceiling Fan That is Wobbly and Unbalanced

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

Modern 3 blade Ceiling Fan

Well, your ceiling fan has been shaking for a while and it has you scratching your head as to how you can fix this problem. Here in this blog, we are going to dive deep and talk about some of the most common problems ceiling fans encounter.

The culprit areas are many, but most problems ultimately stem from that the blades are uneven for one reason or another or there are problems with the base of the fan. The third biggest area is mechanical function of the fan itself.

Check the Individual Ceiling Fan Blades for Unevenness

Old 5 blade ceiling fan that is unbalanced

Stand back and look at your fan. Does it look like it is sitting even and level in the room or does it look like it is slouching or pulling in one direction or another?

Over time, one of the screws that attaches to the motor may have come loose. Do a visual inspection to see if one blade sags more than the others. Then tighten up the loose screw with a screwdriver and see if that balances the fan better. This tip is a pretty simple overlooked thing that is not obvious if it is not pointed out.

Another thing to check the blades for if they are made of wood or a material that flexes, is warping over time. This will most definitely throw a ceiling fan for a spin, literally! If this is indeed the problem, it might be time for a new fan!

Check for Wear on the Washers on the Blades

This is a common problem on some models of fans. If applicable to your model of fan, check the bolts with washers that attach to the fan blade itself. If they are undersized or made of a material that not metal, this may be causing the blades to sag. Take the screws out and replace the cheap washers with some small flat washers that aren't going to bend on all the blades and you might be all fixed up. Ensure that you install the same amount of washers on each blade so that it won't throw the balance of the fan off.

This little trick saved me from buying a whole new fan in my own house as I thought the fan was ready for the dumpster. Sometimes its as simple as replacing the 2 cent washer with a 5 cent washer will make all the difference!

A lot of manufacturers on different products always have that one too cheap of part that they use to save themselves money. But when it comes to the consumer using the product, it becomes apparent that this sometimes causes problems. The washer example here proves that point!

Check the Base of the Fan

ceiling fan base

Ensure that the rod that the fan hangs from the fan base(if applicable to your fan) is secure and level when the fan is not in motion. There could potentially be a problem with how the fan base is attached to the ceiling causing it to sit not level. If the base is not level to start with, the fan doesn't have a chance to spin evenly right from the get go.

Check all of the connections with a screwdriver to make sure everything is good and tight. All it takes is something to be loose and it will throw the balance of the fan off.

Check the Electrical Box

Another area to check is the electrical box and how it is attached to the ceiling. You might have to take off the base of the fan to check this area. The screws maybe loose or not secured properly. It might be as simple as tightening a screw!

This could potentially be a problem area. If originally in the location where the fan is mounted it used to be a regular light, the box may not be designed to handle the weight of the fan.

A proper mounted fan box installation ten plus years ago would have involved supporting a regular octagon box on 2 sides. One side would have been screwed to the joist structure of the floor or ceiling and the other side would usually been supported by running a 2 by 4 or equivalent across the span of the two joists. This would have helped the electrical box not sag on the ceiling and ensure that it did not pull out under the weight of the fan.

More recently in the Canadian Electrical Code, there are actually electrical boxes that are designed for specifically mounting fans to. Basically they are constructed stronger with more metal compared to a regular box. They are also according to code to be screwed in by use of number 10 screws. This will ensure that the box is not going anywhere! They are meant to be supported on 2 sides as well.

If you have checked this out and you have no issues with the electrical box, please move to the next section of my guide, cleaning ceiling fans.

Clean the Fan

dust on ceiling fan blade

Over periods of time, a fan will collect dust, dirt and grime that may affect how well it spins. Do a thorough cleaning and this may help with the fans performance. As you clean the various parts of the fan, check for signs of wear or loose parts. This might point you in the right direction as to what is wrong.

When cleaning the fan, use a feather duster of sorts to get the bulk of the dust off and use a slightly damp cloth to get the rest. Regular cleaning of your ceiling fan will also avoid the dreaded dust rings on the ceiling from fan use. It can be somewhat difficult to get the dust off of the ceiling once it is on there.

The best tip for cleaning the ceiling would be again to use a feather duster to lightly brush the dust particles off or even hire a company that specializes in cleaning ceilings for areas that have years of cleaning neglect.

Use of Balancing Clips and Weights

Sometimes for one reason or another, everything is tight and secure but the fan still spins uneven. This might be a time that you need to use balancing clips and weights. If it is a new fan out of the box. it may have came with a set of them or you can buy them separately.

Try using the balancing clips first on each individual blade and check to see if it improves the fan spin or makes it worse. You might have to use a couple of clips on one side of the ceiling fans blades to notice improvement.

Once you figure out which blade or blades need more stability use weights near the center of the affected blade(s) with a clip. Continue to add more weights to the affected blades until the wobbling stops.

As an alternative to using weights on the ceiling fan, you may consider using coins and just glue them to the top of the blades to secure them. If you have some penny's still lying around somewhere, you might have found something useful to do with them!

Check the Rotation

Most fans have some way to control the speeds of the fan. They are commonly controlled by either a wall control mounted in the switching location, a remote control, or possibly even just a simple pull chain located in the center of the fixture.

Try setting the speed of the fan on low speed and check the rotation. Check to see is there are any abnormalities with the spin. If it is a subtlety noticeable, crank up the speed rotation and see if that makes any difference or change. If it gets worse, then you might be able to notice visually what doesn't quite look right and pinpoint what problem your ceiling fan has.

Hopefully by using this method to troubleshoot it might cut your time down in figuring out what exactly is causing the wobble, and what you will need to do to solve the problem.

Its Just an Old Fan

wobbly and unbalanced ceiling fan

If the fan is 10 or more years old, it may be just time to let this one ride into the sunset. Listen carefully to the sound of the fan spinning. Listen for problems with the motor and consistency of the rotation of the fan.

You usually can hear the motor making some sort of noise if it has something to do with it starting to fail.

It may have mechanical problems as it starts showing its age. More than likely, the repair to the motor would cost more than the cost of an entire new fan. This is another important aspect you may have to look at when diagnosing ceiling fan wobble.

Need Help With Your Fan by an Pro?

Does your ceiling fan have you stumped and pulling your hair out? If you are in the Cochrane, Calgary and area feel free to give Firestorm Electric a call. We can help you with all your Ceiling fan problems and any other electrical service that you require. For more information on what we can do you related to ceiling fans installations, please click here.

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