How to Lubricate a Ceiling Fan Without Taking it Down
Is your ceiling fan making a squeaky noise? This is a clear sign that it’s time to lubricate it. Not doing so can cause damage to multiple parts so do it as soon as possible.
One reason why you might be reluctant to lubricate it is because taking it down is a real hassle. But it’s actually not necessary at all.
Here’s my simple step-by-step guide on how to lubricate a ceiling fan without taking it down. Realistically, it takes only about 15 minutes to do this, as long as you have the right products at hand.
How to Lubricate a Ceiling Fan: Step-by-Step
1. Switch off the fan
Don’t lubricate the fan while it’s on. You don’t want to get an electric shock or mess up the electrical components. This is an essential tip when working with any electric appliance and ceiling fans are no exception.
2. Check if lubrication is even needed
Not all ceiling fans require oiling/lubrication because some, especially newer models, are self-lubricating. However, those that do require lubrication have an oil hole on the top of the motor. This is where you add the lubricant.
Older ceiling fans typically require lubrication annually, but it can differ between various models. So checking the user manual or manufacturer’s info on your model is the best way to determine its maintenance requirements.
To check if lubrication is needed, climb a stepladder and check if there is an oil hole or not. If there is, you can check the oil level using a pipe cleaner. Fold it and insert its hook into the oil hole.
Upon removing the pipe cleaner you will see if there’s oil on it or not. If there is it means that your ceiling fan has enough lubrication. But if it comes out squeaky clean it means that lubrication IS required, and we can proceed to step #3.
3. Clean the ceiling fan
You don’t want dust and debris entering the oil hole so it’s a good idea to clean the surrounding structure beforehand. This can also make the fan run better, prevent dust from spreading across the room when its on, and make it look nice and shiny.
Since you don’t want to take it down, I suggest using a ceiling fan duster with an extension pole. It makes it super easy to clean a ceiling fan without having to climb a ladder.
I recommend the SetSail Duster because it’s washable, can also be used for cleaning furniture and is super affordable (under $10 at the moment of writing). You can check it out on Amazon.
There’s an even more effective duster made specifically for cleaning ceiling fan blades, Blade Maid. You pull the fan blade through the duster and it captures the dust inside and from all sides at once. That way it doesn’t fall on the floor, which is often the case when using a regular duster.
Alternatively, you can use an old pillow case, place it on the blade and then pull. In that case all the dust will remain inside the pillowcase. However, this might require climbing a ladder to reach the fan and cleaning it in that position can be a bit awkward, and dangerous if you have balance issues.
4. Spray the right lubricant into the oil hole
We’ve come to the pinnacle of this operation. There are two ways you can mess this up:
- by using the wrong lubricant
- by putting too much lubricant inside the hole
It’s important that you use an oil-based lubricant, or a lubricant that’s been cleared for fan motor use. As a general rule, it’s best to use a non-detergent motor oil with an SAE number (viscosity rating) of 10, 15, or 20. But some manufacturers recommend a specific type or product, so if you have the instruction manual check for this information.
My top recommendation is 3-in-1 motor oil. It’s the equivalent of a SAE 20 oil rating and has increased viscosity compared to standard motor oils. This means that it provides extended wear protection. It’s a great choice for lubricating the moving parts in small electric motors in general, not just for ceiling fans.
Another excellent choice is Premium Fan Oil. This universal oil was specifically made for lubricating fans. It works for vintage and modern fans and will maintain lubrication with a small amount even in very high temperatures. It’s a bit more expensive but if you’re looking for top grade stuff that you can use without worries, this is it.
You don’t want to put too much inside regardless of the oil/lubricant you’re using. As a general rule 1 to 2 ounces should be enough. Adding more can damage the motor so it’s better to add a bit less than go over the top. You can use the pipe cleaner to check if you’ve put enough inside.
After spraying or pouring the lubricant inside, allow it to do its work for a few minutes before turning it on.
5. Turn on the fan and test for noise
After a few minutes have passed turn on the fan and see if it’s still producing any noise. Test it at different speeds. If you’ve lubricated it properly there should no longer be any friction causing noise.
If the noise persists, you can add a bit more lubricant. If it continues after that, the noise might have a different source, such as a loose part that needs to be adjusted or replaced. Here’s my guide on how to fix a noisy ceiling fan.
If it turns out that your ceiling fan is simply too noisy or too old, then replacing it might be the best option. Especially if it’s in the bedroom and it’s keeping you awake. In that case I recommend checking out the top 5 quietest ceiling fans that will never disturb you.
As you can see, lubricating a ceiling fan is a piece of cake. You don’t even have to take it down. As long as you have a strong stepladder and aren’t suffering from vertigo, you can locate the oil hole on the motor, check for lubricant deficiency and add more if needed. I hope this helps!