Ceiling fans can be a great decoration for any room. In addition, they serve the practical purpose of cooling down your rooms. So, if it’s not spinning well, you’ve got a problem.
The good news is that there are solutions. And, some involve simple DIY repairs that only require a few tools and a little bit of money.
We put together this guide to help you identify why your ceiling fans might spin slowly and what you can do about it. We hope you find it informative and that it helps you fix your ceiling fan without spending a lot of money.
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4 Reasons a ceiling fan barely spins and how to fix it
There are four main reasons why a ceiling fan barely spins. Two are mechanical and two are electrical. We’ll go through all four, starting with the easiest things to check and replace and ending with things that require taking the fan apart and replacing its electrical components.
Blades. The easiest fix is to make sure the blades are balanced. Imbalanced blades can cause the fan to spin slower than normal.
The easiest way to address this is by measuring the tip of each blade from the ceiling. If one of the blades is closer to the ceiling than the others, tape a washer or a coin to the top to weigh it down.
Also, it’s common for fans to come with a rebalancing kit. However, if yours didn’t, or you lost it, you can also find one at a big box hardware store. You can use it to balance your fan blades.
Bearings. If the blades are balanced, try spinning the fan with your hand. If it’s difficult to move, try lubricating the fan unit’s bearings.
At the top of the motor housing, there will be a hole where you can add oil. It should be labeled “add oil” to make it easier to identify. The, spray some light oil—like SAE 10 or SAE 15— into the hole. Make sure you wipe off the motor unit so you don’t get oil all over your floor.
Capacitor. Before working on any electrical component in your fan, it’s important to turn off its circuit at the breaker box. If you’re uncomfortable working around electricity, you may want to consider calling a professional to take care of it.
Ceiling fans have a start-stop capacity for the first jolt of energy. To check it, remove the fan motor unit’s cap. The capacitors are black and/or silver cylinders. You should look for any that are swollen or discolored.
Then, contact your fan’s manufacturer about how to get replacements. They’re either screwed in or there are nuts that connect them to wires.
Winding. Damaged capacitors can also cause the fan unit’s winding to partially short circuit. Checking the windings is the most work-intensive issue because you need to disassemble the fan.
The windings look like discs with holes and copper wire. Inspect them for scorch and burn marks. If the copper is heavily burned, you’ll need to replace the ceiling fan’s motor.
You’ll also need to replace the capacitors that are causing the partial short-circuit. Inspect all of your capacitors to find the one or ones that failed and replace all of them. If you don’t replace them, they damage your new fan motor unit.
What can cause a new ceiling fan to barely spin?
In general, if a new fan is spinning slower than it should be, it’s an electrical issue rather than mechanical. That’s because major mechanical problems are usually caused by age. Therefore, if your fan is brand-new, it likely came with faulty components.
The primary cause of a fan spinning too slowly is a blown capacitor. Capacitors store electricity for a short time before releasing it to either start the fan or control its speed.
If you purchase an inexpensive ceiling fan, the savings might be at the expense of quality electrical components. If your new fan is spinning slowly, cut the power at the circuit breaker and remove the cover for your fan’s motor unit.
If you find that one or several of the capacitators are discolored or swollen, they’ve gone bad. Your fan may be under warranty and, if it is, you should return it. If it isn’t, you’ll want to replace the bad capacitors soon because they can cause damage to the fan motor itself.
What causes a ceiling fan to slow down over time?
There are four primary reasons your fan might slow with time. In addition to electrical components wearing out, certain mechanical components will start to age. The good news is that mechanical problems are also the easiest to fix.
The first mechanical issue is that the bearings require more lubrication. It’s easy to forget to oil them, but you need to do it every so often. Look for a small hole on the top with “Add oil” written on it. Your fan’s owner’s manual will tell you what kind of oil to use.
Over time, the screws holding your fan together can loosen. This can cause your fan to spin slower than it should. So, tighten your screws, especially the ones holding your blades to the arms.
Finally, unbalanced blades can cause your fan to spin slowly. To fix this issue, you can use a fan rebalancing kit. They’re usually included in your fan purchase, but you can also pick one up online or at a big box hardware store.
Electrical problems can also occur over time. The biggest reason fans slow is due to blown capacitors in the fan motor. To check this, remove the cover to the motor and check the capacitors. Then, replace any that are discolored or swollen.
If your ceiling fan is spinning too slow to get your air circulating, there might be a simple reason. It could be a mechanical problem or an electrical one. It could also happen at any point during your fan’s life—either right out of the box or over time.
The good news is that, in most cases, you won’t need to replace the fan or make a pricey service call. You can probably fix the problem yourself and the solution could be simple and inexpensive.
We hope you found this guide to slowly spinning fans helpful. If you did, we always love to see your comments letting us know. You can also share a link to it on social media.