Ceiling Fan Lubrication – Top How To For Lubercating Your Ceiling Fan

Any household appliance that’s powered by an electric motor should be lubricated so that it can run smoothly. Since a ceiling fan falls under this category, it requires frequent lubrication.

Important to note though is that not all ceiling fans require oiling as some have self-lubricating mechanisms.

Below is a more detailed answer to the question, “do ceiling fans need to be lubricated?”

Do Ceiling Fans Need to Be Oiled?

Yes, some ceiling fans need to be oiled

The decision to lubricate a ceiling fan largely depends on the specific model you have. The newest fan models on the market come fitted with double-sealed ball bearings that don’t need lubricating.

Such fans have self-lubricating systems, which means you won’t have to do much maintenance on your part. 

However, if you live in a vintage building, chances are that your ceiling fan needs fresh oil added at least once every year. 

Why you should oil a ceiling fan

To understand why a ceiling fan requires lubrication, you should first familiarize yourself with how it works.

Now, a ceiling fan is made up of numerous parts. But the most crucial ones that are pertinent to its operation are the motor, fan blades, and ball bearings. 


A ceiling fan’s motor acts as the heartbeat as it powers the entire system. 

Fan Blades

The fan blades are wing-like structures that rotate so as to circulate air within a given space. 

Ball Bearings

The bearings are also integral to a ceiling fan’s operation. They’re designed to minimize friction; thus, enabling the fan to run smoothly. These bearings need to be lubricated to play their part efficiently.

Without sufficient lubrication, the friction created by the moving parts can cause your ceiling fan to wear out quickly. 

How much oil does the ceiling fan need for maintenance?

Making the decision to lubricate your ceiling fan is good. But you also need to figure out just how much oil you should use. 

This is because going to extremes can have serious repercussions.

If you use very little oil, it won’t be enough to lubricate the bearings. 

Ultimately, they’ll start producing a grating sound and may potentially cause your motor to fail. On the other hand, adding too much oil can cause the excess oil to drip from the motor housing. 

According to experts, adding three to four drops of suitable motor oil is the sweet spot. It’s just enough oil to keep your ceiling fan running flawlessly.

What can I use to lubricate a ceiling fan?

When it’s time to lubricate ceiling fans, you can’t use just any motor oil from your local hardware store. 

Some types of oil aren’t suitable as they contain combustible compounds. If such oil is added to an electric motor, it can ignite a fire. 

So what kind of oil should one use?

Well, start by checking the owner’s manual. If there’s a specific type of oil that’s been recommended, then that’s what you should use. 

If you don’t have the fan’s instruction manual, look for non-detergent motor oil. Avoid detergent-based oils as they can lead to the formation of sticky substances. 

These can in turn prevent the bearings from working efficiently.

In addition to this, pay attention to the oil’s weight/ viscosity. Ideally, you should look for a 10-, 15- or 20-weight motor oil, which provides a high viscosity needed for lubrication. 

Steer clear of penetrating oils /fluids that have very low viscosity. 

A common question asked by homeowners is, “can I use WD40 to lubricate a ceiling fan?” The short answer to this is no

You can use WD40 to remove gunk from the metallic parts making up the fan’s motor, but that’s about it. Once you’re done cleaning, follow up this step with an application of an appropriate lubricant. 

How to Oil a Ceiling Fan Without Taking It Down

The good thing about lubricating a ceiling fan is that you don’t even have to take it down. Here’s how you should go about it:

1. Turn off the power

The first thing you should do is switch off the power. Turning off the power supply is a crucial step that prevents you from experiencing an electric shock.

If your fan is the kind that has a light fixture, turn it off as well. If you find it difficult working on your fan with the lights switched off, consider using a flashlight. 

At this point, you’ll also want to set up your ladder underneath the fan. But before you start climbing, ensure you have all the tools you’ll need in close proximity. 

2. Check the motor’s components

The second step is to prep your fan before you embark on the lubrication process. 

To achieve this, start by removing the cover of the fan motor. You can use a screwdriver to unfasten screws securing the cover in position. 

Then using a clean cloth, wipe away any dust or grime that’s accumulated on the unit. 

If it’s been a while since you did any routine maintenance, you may have to scrub the area a few times to remove all the dirt. 

3. Identify the oil hole and test current oil levels

The next thing you’ll want to do is locate the oil hole. 

In most ceiling fans, the hole is positioned at the top section of the motor just next to the down rod. 

If you’re new to the anatomy of ceiling fans, the downrod is the narrow tube that attaches the fan to the ceiling.

The oil hole is pretty tiny, but it’s often labeled so it shouldn’t be too hard to find. If you can’t locate it, there’s a high chance that your fan is not meant to be oiled. 

Once you locate this small hole, check the current level lest you end up over-lubricating your fan. To do this, insert about ½ inch of a pipe cleaner into the oil hole. 

If it comes out completely dry, it shows that your fan is low on oil. But if it comes out with oil, then you don’t need to add any more. 

As we mentioned earlier, remember to add just a few drops of oil into the hole. Stop filling once your pipe cleaner comes out with oil at the ½ inch mark. 

4. Clean up the area and reassemble

Now that you’re done with the hard part, the only thing left is to wipe off any excess oil and assemble. 

Often, you’ll find that a small amount of the oil spilled on the motor housing or the exterior of the fan. 

5. Power on and monitor

The last step is to switch your ceiling fan back on and do a test drive. Turn it to the lowest setting first. This way, it will be easier to determine whether it’s making noise during operation. 

If you did everything right, then the fan blades should rotate quietly and smoothly. 

But if you end up with a noisy ceiling fan, then you probably didn’t apply enough oil. 


Ceiling fans do a lot more than add aesthetic appeal to a room. They help in cooling and heating your home- a process that helps you save money on your energy bills.

But to enjoy these perks, you should conduct occasional maintenance. One maintenance task that you should never skip is lubrication. 

Not every ceiling fan needs to be oiled though. Newer models boast self-lubricating mechanisms, which makes for very easy maintenance.

But, other ceiling fans (especially older models) require lubricating annually.

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