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Why Does My Ceiling Fan Wobble?

Whether your fan is brand new or some years old, your ceiling fan can wobble and make some slight movements (this is normal). However, when the wobbling of the ceiling fan becomes incessant or frequent,  it can be attributed to a number of factors like a problem with the fan’s motor or blades.

Your ceiling fan wobbles because it’s imbalanced. Typically, this happens because the ceiling fan is experiencing a heavier blade that causes the ceiling fan to wobble. Oftentimes, the wobble could also happen if the ceiling fan was not mounted correctly, so be sure to make sure you do a thorough audit before taking action.

In this article, we will be looking at the reasons why your ceiling fan might wobble and how to fix it.

First, let’s take a look at some answers to FAQs on why ceiling fan wobbles

Is it normal for the ceiling fan to wobble?

It’s perfectly normal for a ceiling fan to wobble a bit. A ceiling fan is a motor with blades hanging from a rod mounted to a ceiling, and as such it makes perfect sense for ceiling fans to wobble a bit.

While your ceiling fan is running, it’s usual for the blades to shift slightly. When the fan is set to greater speeds, this movement may become more pronounced. However, if you observe a lot of swaying while your fan is at low or high speeds, you should explore the problem since too much wobbling might be dangerous.

How much should a fan wobble?

It is considered safe and normal if a ceiling fan exhibits 1/8th of an inch wobble while running high. If the wobbling of the ceiling fan exceeds this it’s unsafe.

Are ceiling fans dangerous?

No, they are not! Ceiling fans can be dangerous if they aren’t installed properly. While it’s normal for any ceiling fan to wobble a bit, it can become dangerous when the wobble becomes too much. Too much wobbling can damage the fan or anything around it at the time. In extreme cases, the fan can suddenly crash.

Can a wobbly ceiling fan fall off?

Not likely! According to experts, a wobbly ceiling fan is simply an imbalanced ceiling fan. The imbalanced fan can be a result of one fan blade being heavier than another. This might make the ceiling fan wobble, but the chances of falling are very slim.

However, that does not dismiss the fact that a wobbly fan is dangerous. When the ceiling fan is not mounted properly or it has loose screws, it could lead to the eventual fall of the ceiling fan.

Can you fix an unbalanced fan?

Yes, you can fix an unbalanced or wobbly ceiling fan although experts say the process is a lot of trial and error. However, fixing an unbalanced fan requires you to check some parts to accurately diagnose the cause of the wobbling.

And that brings us to ways to know when you have a wobbly ceiling fan.

Diagnosing Wobbly Ceiling Fan

As stated previously, a wobbly ceiling fan is simply an unbalanced fan. The fan’s unbalancing might be due to a plethora of factors like unbalancing or damage of the ceiling fans blades or the motor of the fan.

Let’s dive in!

In the diagnosis of a wobbling ceiling fan, one of the first things to do is;

Check for loose blades

Oftentimes, one of the causes of a wobbly ceiling fan might be some loose fan blades screws that hamper the ceiling fan from rotating properly. Also, these loose fan blade screws could pose a serious threat when they are not fixed, as the blade of the ceiling fan may fall off unexpectedly.

So, in this case, the solution is to make sure to tighten the loose fan blade screws.

In addition, one of the best practices to prevent loose fan blades is the attachment of the ceiling fan to a fan box or fan brace. If you also already have this feature and still experience a loose blade situation, make sure to check the fan support/brace to see if it is correctly tightened.

After fixing the loose fan blades or blade holders, and the wobbling still continues, the next thing to do is,

Check for warped Blades

If the wobbling fans’ screws don’t stop the wobbling, you should check each fan blade and its blade holder for warping, cracking, or any other form of damage. To figure out any kind of damage to the fan blades, you can simply just get a stepladder to check each of the fan blades. Look down each one to see If you see any sign of damage or wear.

If during your inspection, you discover that any of the blades or the blade holders are worn or damaged, contact the manufacturers of the ceiling fan for a replacement.

The next thing to check during your diagnosis for the wobbliness in your ceiling fan is to check if there are any indications that the ceiling fan’s blade shave become warped or bent.

Blades of a ceiling fan are vital to its operation. If any of the fan blades are out of alignment or bent, then the entire ceiling fan will wobble and not function properly. This can be due to several factors, including exposure to high humidity or constant daily usage.

To know whether your ceiling fan blades are warped, turn the fan off, unscrew each blade from the ceiling fan and lay each of them side by side on a flat surface to verify if any of the blades are not laying flat on the surface.

After checking for warped blades, the next thing to do to diagnose the cause of wobbliness in your ceiling fan is to,

Check the Electric Box

Usually, some fans are attached to a basic electric box, and because some of these electric boxes are not built to handle the additional weight of the fan, your ceiling fan might wobble.

The solution to the electric box situation is to get and attach your ceiling fan to a fan brace or box which you can easily find at home improvement stores.

Also, another important thing to monitor is your ceiling fan motor housing. Due to constant usage, your ceiling fan accumulates dust on the inside of the motor housing, which can hamper and cause a strain on the motor of the ceiling fan.

And in situations where the ceiling fan is extremely dusty especially with old fans, the dust can affect the working of the motor thereby leading to the wobbling of the fan.

So, you need to clear the dust, clean the fan and the motor housing, then power it on. If after this, you still observe wobbliness in your ceiling fan, then the next thing is to,

Check the mounting

Another way to check the wobbling of your ceiling fan is to make sure that your fan is mounted on a fan-rated electrical box instead of a basic electrical box.

The reason is a basic electrical box isn’t built to handle the additional load of the ceiling fan, and as a result, the fan might wobble dangerously and ultimately come crashing down.

So, to prevent your ceiling fan from wobbling, make sure it’s mounted either directly to a 2×4 with lag bolts or to an adjustable brace for and attached to a fan-rated outlet box.

Another thing to make sure that the mounting of your ceiling fan is solid is to test the fan support bracket for sturdiness. If you discover that the bracket is easily moveable, tighten it.

How do you fix a loose ceiling fan?

To fix your loose or to stop your ceiling fan from being wobbly, here are all the required items needed to fix without hiring a handyman and what they are used for during the whole process.

A Balancing Kit

This kit is designed to help correct the wobbling of your ceiling fan. The kit contains some adhesive-backed weights as well as the blade clip for balancing.

How to use it.

  • First, attach the clip to one blade, then turn on the fan and see whether it continues to wobble.
  • Repeat the above process for each of the fan blades and turn the fan on until you figure out which one is causing the imbalance
  • Once you note the unbalanced blade, slide the clip down the length of the blade 1/2 inch at a time to gauge whether its balance has improved.
  • Once the optimal balance is achieved, then put on one of the weights from the balancing kit and place it in the middle of the fan’s blade.
  • Finally, use the adhesive backing (or glue) of the kit to hold the weight and then take the clip off the blade.

Screw Driver

The screwdriver comes in handy when you want to tighten blade holders to prevent the wobble of the ceiling fan. Also, it can be used to remove the housing cover of the ceiling fan to see the electrical wiring inside

Small Ladder  & Yard Stick

These tools are also required when fixing the wobbling of your ceiling fan. The small ladder can be used when you want to physically inspect for loose screws or loose blade holders and also measure the distance between the ceiling and each blade. While on the ladder,  you can use the yardstick to measure blade alignment and this is calculated by measuring the distance from the edge of any of the blades to the ceiling.

Steps for Fixing Ceiling Fan

  1. Clean the fan blades:
    • The top of the fan is prone to getting dusty and dirty, and dirt and debris can get into the motor or grooves, making the fan wobble and unbalanced. By cleaning this dirt and debris with a damp cloth and some soap, and then drying it with a clean towel and paper wipes, can help improve the balance of your ceiling fan
  2. Tighten all the Screws:
    • It’s important to make sure that all screws on the blade or blade holders are screwed tight. This is because when screws on the ceiling fan or any part of the ceiling fan are not tightened, it allows the different parts to move independently making it all wobbly especially when it’s turned on high.
  3. Check the Canopy:
    • It’s important to remove the canopy which where the fan connects to the ceiling to see if there are any loose screws and tighten them
  4. Tighten the downrod support screws:
    • These 2-3 downrod screws which are usually found near the motor of the ceiling fan need to be checked and verified to be properly tightened.
    • The downrod support screws are the screws that keep the ceiling fan attached to the ceiling and you can make sure they are tightened by simply unscrewing the downrod
  5. Shaving the heaviest Blade:
    • This simply means turning on the fan on high and checking for any signs of wobbling due to the heaviness of one of the blades over others. Even if there is a slight difference of .5grams in the weight of the blades, wobbling is bound to occur. 
    • Usually, this happens when the fan was badly set up or the blade design of the ceiling fan was poorly designed. You can use a balancing kit to correct this by either purchasing one from a home improvement store or make them yourself by using tape and some nickels and dimes.
    • Although the readymade balancing kit is highly recommended due to the stress involved with the homemade version of the balancing kit.
  6. Buying A New One Is An Option:
    • If after trying all the steps and your ceiling fan still wobbles, you can proceed to buy a new ceiling fan instead of coping with your fan’s vigorous wobbling as this could prove to be an inconvenience and even danger in some cases, and this is often the case with old ceiling fans. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Conclusion

It’s normal if your fan wobbles just a little. When it becomes noisy and starts to wobble vigorously, you have to do something about it. With all the DIY hacks listed in this article, you can easily fix them yourself. However, if all the hacks and tips listed fail, then you can get a new fan as a last resort.

NOTE FROM the author

It's a pleasure to have you here! We've written helpful information on all things that make your home so very special.

If you really enjoyed this article, please feel free to check out the entire website. I'm super excited to share more content to help you unleash your home!

- Tiffany B.