Ceiling fans are a great way to circulate air around your home. They’re also a great way to keep your energy costs down. In fact, ceiling fan manufacturers claim that using one can save you up to $100 per year on heating and cooling costs!
But what happens when your ceiling fan starts making a buzzing noise? That’s not the most pleasant sound.
The buzzing noise heard from malfunctioning ceiling fans is often caused by things like a dirty fan, loose screws, or unconnected blades.
If your ceiling fan has begun to make noise, don’t freak out! Instead, try to identify the problem, possible solutions to the problem, and whether or not you would benefit from a professional to help take care of it all for you.
Ceiling fans regulate temperature in rooms, and often have light capabilities intertwined within them, making them an important part of the comfort of your home.
In this article we’ll discuss why your ceiling fan might be buzzing or humming, and how you can fix it yourself at home or hire a professional service technician to take care of it for you.
Why Does Your Ceiling Fan Make a Buzzing Noise
There could be many reasons why your fan is making noise, but we aim to cover seven of them along with comparable fixes. It can be frustrating to deal with the unknown, so stick around and read through to see if you can find the reason behind your buzzing noise, and the subsequent solution.
Your Fan is Dirty
Spring cleaning gets away from the best of us. Life is too full to be able to stay on top of every little chore that could be done. Unfortunately, one of the most frequently forgotten things to clean is the ceiling fan.
Though more often than not, this oversight is rather harmless, occasionally it can lead to problems that require more money and time to fix than anyone would’ve imagined.
If you don’t clean the blades and motor of your ceiling fan regularly, dust will accumulate, which can cause vibrations that create a buzzing sound.
You should clean your ceiling fan at least once every two months. If your ceiling fan isn’t balanced, the blades can vibrate when they are rotating. The same process that causes the buzzing sound can also cause your fan to wobble.
There Are Loose Screws
If there are any loose screws in your ceiling fan, they may cause it to vibrate or make other noises as well as cause problems with the wiring system. Make sure all screws on the motor housing (where the light fixture is attached) are tight and secure before attempting to diagnose this problem further. If you don’t know how to fix the problem, call a professional.
If these first two possibilities didn’t prove to be the culprit, the next two just might be.
The Light Fixture is Loose
Wha could be scarier than the thought of the light fixture that hangs above your head so often being loose? I couldn’t tell you! People are often surprised to know that fixtures can become a bit looser over years of operation and need to be checked on regularly.
Not checking on the fixture regularly keeps you in the dark about when it may be loose, which can prove problematic if it’s resulting in the annoying buzzing sound you’re so desperately trying to get rid of for good.
When ceiling fans aren’t tightly fastened, the loose parts rubbing up against one another can result in that annoying buzzing noise.
One of the best ways to know if the light fixture is loose (and if that looseness is resulting in the buzzing noise you’re trying to get rid of), is to try tightening it.
There will be more on that later. What’s important now is that you recognize whether or not the fixture is loose, and if it is, if that’s the only issue.
The Motor is Sticking
When a ceiling fan is stuck, the blades are actively fighting against the agent keeping them stuck without being able to circulate.
This lack of opportunity to move can often be the cause of a deep buzzing noise resulting from the blades not being able to move forward.
It’s important to note here that if the issue still hasn’t been fixed, there are a few more possibilities, so don’t despair!
Part Are Loose Within the Motor
Imagine taking a bunch of smaller objects, putting them in a dryer machine, and turning it on. What a horrible sound that would make! Not only would the items get damaged, but the machine would too.
Something similar transpires when parts are loose within the motor. Motors are simple, efficient mechanisms- everything (is supposed to) have its place. When things get out of place, the end result is noise- often a buzzing sound.
The Blades Aren’t Connected Properly
Whether you or someone else installed your ceiling fan blades, its worth considering whether or not they were installed correctly. If blades were installed either too close together or too far apart, the end result is a poor connection between them and the turning mechanism.
You want to turn the fan off (just like with the other steps), and make sure that all of the blades are secure within their respective areas. This has been a problem in the past for me, and (fortunately) it’s one of the easiest issues to fix.
Let’s investigate one last possible cause that could result in the annoying buzzing sound you’re so desperately trying to get rid of; using a faulty dimmer.
You’re Using a Faulty Dimmer
A dimmer is a beautiful way to personalize a light fixture within a room. The benefits of controlling exactly how much light is let in, and how bright or dim a room gets as result, is a luxury that many now have at their fingertips.
Dimmers use current limiters to reduce the amount of light you’re exposed to in a precise manner.
Faulty dimmers can be caused by wattage problems, wear and tear, as well as current limiter malfunctions. Often times, the easiest way to fix the faulty dimmer problem is simply to get a new one.
Though replacement of individual parts and repair are both options, the work associated in either, for the average homeowner, is far more extensive and costly in time than it would be to just hire a professional to thoroughly see the project through to completion.
Best Fixes For Your Buzzing Ceiling Fan
When it comes to fixing a buzzing ceiling fan, the solution looks a bit more like troubleshooting, rather than a one size fits all. Possible options include cleaning, tightening screws, tightening fixtures, lubricating motors, and more.
Of course, if you are looking for a simpler solution, calling a professional is always an option, but for those who want to stick it out themselves in hopes of finding a “fix”, this next part of the article is for you.
Clean Your Ceiling Fan
It’s a good idea to clean your fan once in a while. This can help eliminate dust, dirt and other particles from the blades that might be causing the noise.
Cleaning also gives you an opportunity to inspect and tighten screws around your ceiling fan. A dirty ceiling fan is one of the most common causes for a buzzing sound. If dust and other items have accumulated on the blades, it can cause them to vibrate as they rotate in the air stream created by your ceiling fan.
Cleaning your ceiling fan regularly will keep it running smoothly and prevent any buzzing noise from occurring.
Tight the Screws Around Your Ceiling Fan
If you have a ceiling fan that is buzzing, the first thing you should do is check all of the screws around your ceiling fan. Make sure they are tight and secure before attempting to diagnose this problem further.
If you think that some of these screws are loose, tighten them and see if this fixes the noise problem on your ceiling fan. If it does not work, move on to other solutions listed below. The next thing you can try is cleaning the blades of your ceiling fan. Dust and dirt can get trapped in between the blades and create noise when they move.
Cleaning your fan’s blades will also help eliminate any build-up of dust, dirt or other particles that may be causing the buzzing sound.
Tighten the Light Fixture
Check that the blades are not bent, cracked or broken and that the motor is not making strange noises.
If your blades are off balance, it could be because one or more of them is not secured properly or has become loose. Make sure that all screws around your ceiling fan are tight before attempting to diagnose this problem further. If your fan has a reversing switch, make sure it is in the “off” position when you do this.
Lubricate the Fan Motor
Check that the motor is not loose or damaged and that it is working properly.
If your ceiling fan is making a buzzing or grinding noise, check to see if it needs to be lubricated. This can be done by removing the cover plate from the motor housing and cleaning out any debris with a vacuum. Next, put several drops of light machine oil on the shaft of the fan blade holder and spin it for about 30 seconds until all surfaces are covered with oil.
If you have a remote control for your ceiling fan, check the batteries to make sure they are not dead. It may also be a good idea to check that all electrical components are secure and functioning properly, and that the motor is not running hot and that the bearings are not damaged.
Re-install the Fan Blades
If your ceiling fan is making a buzzing noise, it’s possible that the blades are not balanced properly. This means that one side may be heavier than the other and cause vibration when you turn on your fan.
If you notice that one or more of the blades are off balance, check the screws on the back of each blade for tightness. Also make sure that all of your ceiling fan’s electrical components are functioning properly. You can easily fix this problem by replacing your old blades with new ones.
Replace the Motor Altogether
If all else fails (and a professional deems it to be necessary), it might be time to replace the motor all together. Though this isn’t the most favorable option, it is, unfortunately, a viable one.
It’s important to weigh the costs and benefits with replacing the motor versus buying a new unit all together. It’s also important, regardless of that decision, to make sure that you consult a professional at every step along the way to ensure you aren’t skipping any important steps.
When Should You Call a Professional?
If you’re having trouble diagnosing the problem or don’t feel comfortable with electrical issues, consider hiring a professional.
A licensed electrician can identify the issue and fix it quickly. If it’s an issue with wiring, they’ll be able to identify that as well and make sure things are up to code.
If you hear buzzing noises coming from your ceiling fan motor that sound like they’re getting louder, especially if they’ve been getting worse over time, it could be time to call in a pro. The same goes if you have any other unusual noises coming from the direction of your ceiling fan motor—you may need some help!
If you’re experiencing a buzzing noise from your ceiling fan, it could be due to a problem with the motor, the lubrication, or blades.
There’s no shame in calling a professional for help. It may end up saving you large amounts of time, money, and stress.
Ruben has a diverse background in the home services industry, with experience running a construction company, a kitchen and bath showroom, and a moving and relocation company. This breadth of experience has provided him with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in various areas of home improvement in general and specifically in the heating and plumbing niche.