How to balance a ceiling fan

Adjusting the angle of a Fan Blade

If your fan blades are at different angles they will push air at different rates. Which is one reason they could wobble. – Photo by J&J

Ceiling fans are a great way to save energy and reduce your utility bill. But just like any other thing, sometimes they need repair.

The cooling breeze of a ceiling fan can be your best friend in the heat of the summer. The whole house can feel several degrees cooler just from sitting under it.

But a pleasing experience can become quickly annoying. Just imagine laying in bed, feeling the breeze from you ceiling fan, and hearing “Thud, thud, thud, thud”.

The banging was loud enough that it would easily cause us to worry that it might fall off of the ceiling.

It can make falling asleep quiet difficult. So you turn the fan down to stop it from making the noise… and now the breeze is not as satisfying.

It would seem that you just cannot win.

How to Repair a Fan

There are several ways to try and fix a wobbling fan, and we started with the ways that cost money. I went to the hardware store and bought one of those ceiling fan blade balancing kits that are supposed to stop it from wobbling.

They consist of different weights, and a movable tool to help you find the blade that is off balance. We tried using this – but it just never worked.

We took over an hour adjusting and trying to figure it out the first time, without success.

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After the frustration subsided, a few weeks later, we tried again – it took just as long and the results were just as… nonexistent.

In researching what I was doing wrong (after all, I bought this kit at a store, so it MUST work… right?), I ran across people talking about blade angles, poor mounting and other possibilities.

To test this, I took down all of the fan blades from the offending ceiling fan. I started by laying two of the blades next to each other on a desk. I pushed down on the end you mount to the fan motor. You should notice the fan blade tilt.

I then measured how high off of the table the higher end of the blade was. (You can see this in the picture)  I was shocked when I did this again with the next one and found it was off by .25 inches.

But that was not the biggest surprise. I went along, adjusting each of the blade to the same height – it takes only a slight twisting motion to make the adjustments. When I was done with one, I would stack it on top of the others.

Misaligned Ceiling Fan Blade Mount

In this stack of 5 ceiling fan blades, one of the mounts was twisted – making our fan off-balance and noisy. – Photo by J&J

After all 5 blades were done, I noticed a much bigger problem. One of the actual mounts (the metal part that screws on to the blade, and the into the motor) was way off from the rest. Way, way off.

I could not find any way for me to make an adjustment to this. Luckily, we had replaced a ceiling fan before that was the same model of this one. We kept the blades, so I had the hardware I needed to make the repair.

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I installed the mount, and compared the blades again – things were looking much, much better.

Home Repairs: Do It Yourself

I replaced the blades back on to the motor and turned it on. Only one thing was missing – the “Thud, thud, thud, thud” was all gone!!!

Ahh, the return of the cooling fan on high speed! The sweet silence of success!

Repaired Fan Blades

After replacing the mount, everything lined up again. Now the spacing between the blades would be equal. – Photo by J&J

My advice to you is to try this first. If nothing else, it will only take you 10 minutes to remove the blades and see if they all line up. If they do, then maybe it is worth spending your money.

In our instance, the fan blade mount was turned so that one blade was pointing closer to another blade than it should be, sending the whole system off balance. No blade balancing kit was going to fix that.

The moral of the story is, if you can save $2, save $2. Especially when that $2 might not even fix your problem!

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