How to Fix a Shaky Ceiling Fan: 3 Problems That Might Be Causing the Wobble

by Michael Franco
Brown ceiling fan hangs near a neighboring wall

Do people cringe in fear when walking under your wobbly ceiling fan? If your fan visibly shakes every time it is on, it could be a safety hazard.

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Fixing a wobbly ceiling fan is a job you can most likely take on yourself without any major tools or equipment, but the fix depends on where the wobble is coming from.

Fan Box or Fan Brace

A properly installed and secure ceiling fan will be attached to either a fan box or a fan brace. Basic electrical boxes for lighting are not equipped to handle the additional weight of the fan. This is why you need a box or brace. If your ceiling fan is only attached to an electrical box, you will need to purchase and attach a fan brace. These are available at home improvement stores.

Before doing any investigative work, pull the cord controlling the fan so it won’t accidentally be switched on and turn off the switch to the fan. To feel extra secure, flip the circuit breaker to cut off power to the fan. But if you do this, you won’t be able to test the fan.

If your fan is attached to a box or brace, check the fan support bracket. It might be this bracket only needs a little tightening to get rid of the wobble. Make sure the screws attaching the fan box to the ceiling are secure as well. You’ll also want to check the hanger ball. This is a small ball that fits in a similarly shaped bowl. Attached to the ball is the center rod of the fan. Ensure the hanger ball fits snugly in its joint and doesn't move around.

All screws should be checked, including the screws holding the blades and any connections between the light and fan, and tightened if necessary. Loose screws on any part of the ceiling fan mean the parts can move independently, which could make the entire fan wobble. Once you’ve tightened all the screws, turn the fan on high to test if it still wobbles.

Blade Height Issues

If tightening the fan’s screws didn’t work, the next step is to see if any of your blades or blade holders are warped, bent or cracked. Safely using a stepladder, stand at eye-level with your fan blades. Look down each one to see if there’s any sign of warping or cracking. The blade holders are the metal pieces at the end of each blade. Are they cracked or worn? If you see any warping or cracking on either the blade or the blade holders, contact your fan’s manufacturer for replacements.

Next thing to check is your actual blade height. Are they all the same? Use a yardstick to measure the outside edge of the blades. Always measure the same edge of the blades as they are naturally tilted. Line the yardstick up with the edge of the blade and hold it against your ladder or step stool (or against the ceiling). Then, spin the fan. Make sure all blades hit the yardstick at the same height. If not, try tightening the screws that connect the blades to the motor. Do this for the lower blades, then see if their height is now the same as the others. Now, turn the fan on high to see if the wobble is gone.

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Blade Balancing

Unbalanced blades can cause a lot of wobbling. You can purchase a blade balancing kit at home improvement stores. You can also use household items to make your own. A blade balancing kit contains small weights (either clips or adhesive weights) that you attach to your fan blades to make them run smoothly once again. You attach the weights individually to the blades until the balance is back. If you’d like to do this yourself, you can use nickels and dimes to replicate the weights. You’ll also need tape to adhere the coins to the blades. The process is the same, attaching the coins to the blades and testing the fan until it runs smoothly. Using coins does take a little longer as you’ll need to tape and un-tape each coin as you go through the balancing act.

You test the fan by attaching a weight or coin to one blade, turning on the fan and seeing if it still wobbles. Move through the blades until the fan no longer shakes. You can start by putting the weight in the center of the blade and then moving it inwards towards the motor or outwards to find the spot where the weight will stop the ceiling fan’s wobble. You may need to use more than one weight on a blade to balance it. If the fan still isn’t balanced, the blades may not have been installed correctly. Swap the blade positions and retest.

If you still can’t get rid of the wobble, it’s safer at this point to call in a professional to properly diagnose and fix the issue.

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