3 Common (And Annoying) Ceiling Fan Issues — And How to Fix Them

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Ceiling fans can provide cool, soothing airflow for many years if properly installed and maintained. Since they are fairly simple machines, troubleshooting malfunctions and making basic repairs can usually be accomplished without the help of a professional. From strange noises to problems with the remote control or pull chain, you should be able to fix problems with your ceiling fan without much trouble.

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1. Strange Sounds

If you hear a humming, buzzing, or clicking sound emanating from your ceiling fan, there could be a few culprits:

The Use of Dimmers

Although dimmers are perfectly handy for lowering the lights in a bedroom, they're not actually intended for use with ceiling fans (and in fact, that can be a fire hazard). If you are controlling the fan with dimmers, you should replace your dimmer switches with standard ones.

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Low or Weak Battery Signal

If you have no dimmers in use with your ceiling fan, the buzzing or humming noise might be coming from a low battery or weak signal on your fan remote. First, replace the batteries in your remote to see if this fixes the problem. If the batteries have been replaced and you still hear a humming, try to see if the signal has been disrupted by an obstruction like a piece of furniture.

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Loose Screws

Another common reason for a humming noise on a fan? Loose screws on the fan's assembly. To fix, simply tighten everything up with a screwdriver and see if it makes a difference.

Improper Mounting

Strange sounds can also emanate from your ceiling fan if it is mounted improperly. This is particularly problematic when fans are hung directly on ceiling joists rather than in between them with an approved ceiling fan hanger. Remounting your fan should fix this problem.

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Signs It's Time to Call a Professional

If none of these issues proves to be the problem with your fan, it may have faulty capacitors. Malfunctioning capacitors can cause low voltage levels inside the fan, which makes it hard for the motor to operate. Replacing the capacitors or changing the circuit your fan is on should help fix this problem, which is typically best handled by an electrician.

Similarly, if you ever hear sizzling noises coming from your fan or see or smell smoke, the drive capacitor could be malfunctioning. Smoke can also be a sign of problematic wiring. This can be particularly dangerous because much of the wiring for a fan is housed within the ceiling, and you might not see signs of a fire for several minutes. Turn off a fan that is exhibiting any of these problems immediately and contact your local fire department and a professional electrician right away.

2. A Pull Chain That Won’t Pull

If the pull chain for your ceiling fan won't pull, you will need to remove the housing for the switch. After unscrewing and removing this portion of the fan, you should be able to see the switch and the pull chain in their entirety. If the chain is broken or out of place, you can unscrew its casing and remove it from the switch assembly. You can then either replace it with a new chain or reset the original if it was not broken. Replace the assemblies you have taken apart and test the chain to verify it is working.

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3. A Remote Control That Won't Work

If the remote for your ceiling fan is not working properly, the first thing you nee to do is check the batteries. If they are low or dead, your remote will not be effective. Replace the batteries with new ones and attempt to use the remote once more.

If the remote still does not work, take note of the light diode on its end. Is it emitting any light when you press buttons on the remote? If not, there is no signal being sent to the fan. This likely means the remote is faulty and will require replacement. Contact the manufacturer of your ceiling fan to order a new remote.

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If the light at the end of the remote is sending a signal to the fan, it is possible the two are set at different frequencies. You may need to pair them. This can usually be accomplished by checking the dip switches on both the fan and remote. They should be set to the same frequency, which is usually denoted by same-direction switches.

If you are unable to power on the fan using the remote after attempting all of these steps, but the fan itself still functions properly if switched on directly, you should order a replacement remote from the manufacturer.

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