4 Reasons Your Ceiling Fan Light Isn't Working

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A light and ceiling fan combo gives you the best of both worlds: cooling airflow to keep your room comfortable and bright overhead illumination for the space. Ceiling fan lights are similar to other overhead light fixtures except the wiring goes through the fan before connecting to the main wiring. Ceiling fan lights can often be operated by a pull chain or a wall light switch. Several issues can cause the light to stop working, so some basic troubleshooting can help you decide how to proceed and restore light in the room.

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1. Basic Problems With Bulbs, Breakers, or Switches

Before tearing apart a good ceiling fan, check out the basics that could affect a light. Start by verifying that the circuit breaker is turned on and the fixture is receiving power. Next, check the light bulbs to verify that they're working and didn't all burn out. Make sure the bulbs match the wattage guidelines for the fixture as some lighting kits have a wattage limiting device that can stop it from working if the bulbs exceed the limit.

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Many people operate a ceiling fan from the pull switches without examining the wall switch. A seemingly unassigned wall switch may simply be a control switch for the ceiling fan. Test out the light switches in the room to see if any of them control the ceiling fan and light. If these basic fixes don't correct the issue, move on to other possible causes of the light not working.

2. Pull Switch Is Broken

The pull switch on the ceiling fan can turn the light on and off, but there can also be issues with it that cause the light to not work. A pull switch should be tight and click when you pull it. Compare the pull switch for the lights to the pull switch for the fan blades. Shut the power off to the ceiling fan at the circuit breaker if you need to do additional troubleshooting. Pull the cover off of the fan, typically screwed into the base between multiple lights or mounted into the light fixture, to visually inspect the pull switch.

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A damaged switch will have chunks of plastic in the switch, signs of scorching, or damaged wires. Switches screw into the side through a screw-on cap on the outside of the switch. The pull chain routes through the retaining cap. Unscrew the cap, and disconnect the electrical wires to replace the switch.

3. Wiring Is Disconnected or Damaged

The wiring for the light is usually not the cause of a nonfunctioning light. If the fan works, the lights should work. However, it doesn't hurt to check the wiring to make sure everything is connected correctly. Shut off the power to the ceiling fan before doing anything related to the wiring.

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Inspecting the wiring requires disconnecting the retaining screws that connect the fan to the mounting bracket in the ceiling and lowering the fan a few inches. You should see blue and black wires from the fan twisted onto the black wire from the main wiring. The colors of the fan wires may vary, so consult your installation manual to identify the proper colors. Pull the cover off of the light fixture to inspect the wiring near the switch and light sockets. Look for signs of damage and make sure the wires are all connected.

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Damaged wires will have melted sheathings or scorch marks. Frayed wires can also cause power supply issues. If you see these signs of damage, calling an electrician to handle the wire replacement is the safest option. A mistake with wiring can cause electrical shock, electrical shorts, or even electrical fires.

4. Incorrect Ceiling Fan Installation

Installing the ceiling fan with a light requires wiring the light to the main wiring. If you just installed the ceiling fan and the light doesn't work, the wires were likely not connected properly. Consult the installation guide and correct the issue.

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When the light goes out post-installation and you've verified the function of the bulbs, pull switch, and wiring, another possible cause is the light socket. Testing a light socket requires using a multimeter to verify that an electrical signal is being received in the socket. Consult the owner's manual for the multimeter for proper testing procedures involving a light socket. You can also visually inspect the socket for charring or burn marks, which can indicate a short that requires professional repairs.

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