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How to quiet a noisy ceiling fan

A standard ceiling fan should be quiet while it’s blowing streams of cool air across the room. But it can become noisy for a variety of reasons.

The fan motor uses ball bearings to enable the blades to rotate. Due to prolonged use, the bearings may start to wear down and the lubrication used to reduce the friction (and noise) can dissipate.

Eventually, your ceiling fan may start producing humming or rubbing noise. Here are a few ways you can quite a noisy ceiling fan motor by yourself. These solutions work approximately 95% of the time (the rare 5% of cases involve replacing broken fan parts):

Inspect the fan as a whole

You need to first inspect the ceiling fan to identify the source of the sound.

You might think that the sounds are coming from the fan motor only to find that the actual source is loose blades or poor installation.

To carry out a thorough inspection and to avoid electric shocks, turn off the fan before you get down to business. Unless you enjoy the adrenaline rush (just kidding, turn it off for real).

Take a good look at the ball bearings

If have inspected the fan and established that the source of the noise is not from the fan blades or poor installation but from the fan motor, here’s what you should do:

All ceiling fan motors use ball bearings to rotate effortlessly. These bearings are similar to other ball bearing sets and for them to work properly they need adequate lubrication. If the lubrication dissipates, the ball bearings will rub against the casing and this will cause noise.

Ceiling fans are almost always pre-lubricated in production. However, the lubrication wears out with time.

Modern over-head fan models have their bearings soaked in oil bath. This means that the ball bearings are enclosed in a casing that contains lubricating oil, and as such the bearings self-lubricate as they revolve inside the housing. Nonetheless, continuous usage of the fan may still cause dissipation of the lubrication.

The old-fashioned fan models are manufactured in such a way that you can re-lubricate them. They feature areas where you can fill the lubrication oil to ensure that the ball bearings are lubricated. Here’s my guide on how to lubricate a ceiling fan without taking it down.

Use the appropriate lubricating oil

There is a specific lubricating oil used in the lubrication of ceiling fans.

If you use the wrong lubricating oil you might end up clogging up the bearing and damaging the fan. You might be forced to replace the entire ceiling fan if this happens.

Non-detergent fan lubricants are highly recommended because those that contain detergents can clog the bearings.

Check the motor housing

Sometimes, the motor is not the real cause of the noise that is coming from your ceiling fan. Probably the screws that hold the motor housing are the real problem.

Through normal vibration, the screws can become loose and create unwanted noise. Therefore, ensure that you also check the entire motor housing and tighten all the screws you see.

Avoid turning the ceiling fan to full speed

Do you really need the fan to run at full speed? – Probably not.

Allowing the ceiling fan to run at full speed is not a good idea because it wears down the different parts that make the fan operational like the motor and the screws that hold the motor housing and the blades in place.

Once these parts become loose, the fan WILL become noisy. Therefore, only turn the ceiling fan at full speed if you have to.

How to lubricate the ball bearings

Lubricating the older fan model

As stated earlier on, older fan models are designed for regular re-lubrication, meaning that you can actually re-lubricate it yourself.

The re-lubrication procedure is easy and you do not need any technical knowledge to do it yourself:

With the help of a small oil can, fill the ball bearing’s casing with the right lubricant. There is a small opening in the housing designed for this procedure.

Once you have filled the oil potusing the right lubricant, switch on the fan and let it run at standard speed. While the blades rotate, the ball bearings will also rotate and lubricate themselves.

This will eliminate the unwanted sound and the fan will operate smoothly and the noise will be eliminated.

Lubricating the modern fan models

For the new models of ceiling fans, the lubrication procedure may be a little harder.

This is because most of the new models come with the self-lubrication feature that allows the ball bearings to automatically lubricate as the motor runs.

However, this does not mean that once the motor becomes noisy, you should ignore or buy a new ceiling fan. No, you need to fix it.

You have two options when it comes to lubricating the new ceiling fan models; do it yourself or call a professional.

Do it yourself

If you decide to carry out the lubricating process on your own, you need to first take down the fan from its mount.

Carefully take out the blades by unscrewing them from the motor casing. Remove the motor cover from the fan’s body.

Once you have removed the motor cover, open it using a screwdriver and find the ball bearings. Carefully lubricate the bearings with the appropriate fan lubricant.

Once you have completed this procedure, reassemble each and every part and re-install the ceiling fan.

The last step is running the fan at average speed to allow the ball bearings to lubricate themselves properly. This should make the noise disappear.

Call a professional

If you realize that you cannot do it yourself, it is a good idea to call a professional.

You can either contact the fan’s manufacturer and have it professionally serviced or simply call a reputable service person to come and fix it for you.

What if the noise is not coming from the fan motor?

If after inspection you realize that the fan is not the cause of the noise, you should do the following:

Check the fitting

Inspect the ceiling fan and ensure that it is appropriately installed. If it is not installed properly and it is hanging loosely, simply tighten it using the right tool (usually a simple screwdriver).

Take a look at the blades

If there is no problem with the mounting of the ceiling fan, check the blades. You can do this by wiggling each blade independently to see if it is loose.

Loose blades can cause some squeaking sounds when in motion. Tighten all the loose screws on the blades and this will eliminate the squeaky noises.

Balance the fan blades

Imbalanced fan blades can cause the ceiling fan to wobble and even get loose. If not fixed this can damage the fan or cause it to fall from its mount.

Therefore, ensure that all the blades are balanced using a balancing kit that usually comes with the fan. The kit comes with an instruction manual to enable you to balance the blades.

Clean the fan

Over time, fans accumulate dust and dirt. This can make them lose balance, triggering a squeak. Cleaning and removing the dirt will enable the fan to maintain balance and run effortlessly. Use a clean piece of cloth to wipe off the dust or dirt.

Check the light fixtures

If your ceiling fan is equipped with a light kit, inspect the light kit. Maybe it is the reason why the fan is noisy.

When it is operational, the ceiling fan creates motion. If the light kit is loose, the motion will make it vibrate. This will cause a squeak that you might think is coming from the fan motor.

Tighten the loose light fixture, check the rubber covering and ensure that it is still in its original place, and tighten the screws that hold the globe in place.

If tightening the screws does not help, you can use a thick rubber band to tie around the neck of the globe and the shade.

Check the canopy

This is the round or square mounting bracket that comes in direct contact with the ceiling.

If the bracket is loose or is not level with the ceiling, there will be a gap between the ceiling and the bracket. This can be the cause of squeaky noises when the fan is on. Therefore, tighten any loose screws and ensure that the canopy is in the right position.

To Conclude

A noisy ceiling fan can be a real nuisance, especially if you are trying to sleep or concentrate on important business.

As you’ve just read, the noise can come from the various parts that make up the ceiling fan. Therefore, inspect the fan as a whole and try to pinpoint one or a few of the sources of the noise.

In most cases, tightening the loose screws and lubricating the bearings is all that is needed to get those blades reverting as quietly as they did before.

If nothing works or you can’t be bothered to fix it, check out the 5 quietest ceiling fans on the market. These would surely act as quality replacements if you’d give them the chance.

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