Ceiling fans should not be noisy. The average ceiling fan should not make noise over 60 dB (decibels) to 70 dB. There are several reasons that result in a noisy ceiling fan. You do not have to worry about it because most of the problems can be fixed by using hand tools and minimal mechanical or electrical knowledge.
Here is a list of 13 reasons your ceiling fan is noisy and how to fix it:
- Dust buildup on Blades
- Loose blades
- Imbalanced blades
- Deformed or damaged blades
- Loose light fixture
- Loose mounting screws
- Loose or damaged canopy
- Loose or damaged motor housing
- Grinding Rotor
- Pull chain problems
- Electrical problems
- Improper installation
- Poor design or defects
In this post, I am going to tell you the 13 possible causes of your ceiling fan is noisy and how to fix it. I will also guide you on how to find out the exact problem and the type of noise your ceiling fan is making.
#1. Dust Buildup on Blades
While rotating, a normal ceiling fan will produce a whirring sound as the blades are rotating through the air. With the passage of time, dust and grime will build on the blades. It will also affect the airflow around the blades and the overall fan balance will also be disturbed.
The airflow surrounding the blades causes a louder whirring noise. If the fan is unbalanced, it will go back and forth as it rotates, generating a clicking noise.
If your ceiling fan is generating a louder than normal clicking or whirring noise, fixing the noise is as easy as cleaning the blades. Simply take a wet paper towel and wipe down both the top as well as the bottom of the fan blades. It is happening because there may be an excessive dust and grime gathered on the blades, which may take several paper towels to do the job.
#2. Loose Blades
Fan blades do not only make noise when they are dirty. Fan blades are affixed to the hub of the fan with screws. If the screws are loose, the blades can flop around against the hub and cause a clicking sound. loose fan blades can also flutter as they run through the air.
You can tight the screws to fix the loose fan blades. But if the screws cannot be tightened any further, put rubber or metal washers between the blades to the hub is good to go.
Recommended: Can a wobbly ceiling fan fall?
#3. Imbalanced Blades
Under normal circumstances, the center of mass of the fan will be collinear with its axis of rotation. In short, the weight of the unit is balanced along the axis about which it spins. An imbalanced fan will move back and forth in its housing, causing a grinding or clicking noise. Uneven blade weights are the reason of an imbalanced unit.
Attach small weights to the fan blades to balance them. Fan balancing kits can also be found on most hardware stores.
#4. Damaged or Deformed Blades
Even if the fan blades are clean, and balanced properly, tightly affixed to the fan, they can still make a noise. One or more than one blades can be damaged or deformed by themselves and as a result, they can alter airflow or alter the balance of the fan. The altered airflow will be noisy and will make the fan to swing around.
When you check a fan that is making a noise, inspect them for signs of damage or deformity too. The blades need to be identical with identical curvature and smooth surfaces.
If one or more blades are damaged, you need to get a replacement for them. The website of the manufacturer or the fan manual will have instructions and forms to order the blades. If the replacement blades are not available from the manufacturer, you can change the blades with generic blades.
#5. Loose Light Fixture
Many ceiling fans come with lighting fixtures. Loose light fixtures will create a clicking noise by swinging around.
Light fixture parts are usually attached to the rest of the fan with nuts and bolts or screw joints. You can tighten them to avoid the swinging as well as the noise.
#6. Loose Mounting Screws
Generally, ceiling fans are mounted on the ceiling with the help of screws. If they get loose, the whole fan can vibrate or wobble against the ceiling. It will cause a lot of noise too.
You have to remove the canopy to access the mounting screws and rest it against the lower components of the unit. Replace the cover and tighten the screws.
#7. Loose or Damaged Canopy
The canopy is the shell that hides the fan base and protects the wiring and other internal parts of the fan. If the canopy is loose or damaged, it will vibrate against the other components of the fan or the ceiling. As a result, a humming or clicking noise will be made.
A ceiling fan’s canopy is usually mounted on an internal bracket that carries the motor and is affixed with screws. When you try to fix a noisy ceiling fan, you need to tighten the screws holding the canopy in place.
#8. Loose or Damaged Motor Housing
An electric motor of a ceiling fan is generally mounted directly above the blade and hub assembly and will use a separate housing. The housing is mounted on an interior bracket using screws. The motor housing can scrape or vibrate against the hub when rotates if the screws are loose. The housing will remain in place by tightening the screws.
Some fans hide the motor inside of the canopy instead of providing separate housing.
#9. Grinding Rotor
The fan’s rotor may cause a rubbing or grinding noise as it rotates against its bearings. The rubbing can create an irritating metal-on-metal grinding or ringing noise. After repeating it for a long time, the grinding will damage and eventually destroy the motor as well.
Proper lubrication is required to fix a grinding rotor. To find out whether your fan needs lubrication, you need to disassemble it and visually inspect its bearings. If the bearings are lubricated, they will look wet.
The manual of your fan should contain instructions for adding lubricant.
#10. Pull Chain Problems
Most ceiling fans, especially older units contain pull chains to control, ON/OFF and adjust the speed levels. If the fan is not balanced, the pull chain can move back and forth. And if the chain hits the blades or the fan housing, a clicking noise will be made.
A short-term solution to fix the issue is to shorten the pull chain and it will avoid clicking. The long-term solution is to rebalance the fan again.
#11. Electrical Problems
There are several reasons that can result in the problems of electrical components of a ceiling fan. Here are some of the main or common causes for electrical noise generated by a malfunctioning ceiling fan.
If your ceiling fan is drawing too much electric power, the circuit breaker of your home may begin to make an electric hum. In this case, you need to switch off the fan and contact a qualified electrician immediately.
In a normal situation, the circuit breaker of your household will cut the power to the circuit if your electric appliances like ceiling fan or other are drawing too much current. A humming noise is also an indication of a malfunction in the circuit breaker itself.
If your ceiling fan contains a light kit controlled by a dimmer switch, it can cause an electrical hum from the wires or contacts to vibrate.
Dimmer switches are often incompatible with an older combinations of light kits and ceiling fans. Before you install a dimmer switch in the same circuit, you should consult the manual first.
Fan Control Receivers
Many modern ceiling fans are available with remote controls and also contain wireless receiver parts developed into their internal circuits. You can also retrofit your existing ceiling fans with remote control receivers. If you are planning to do it, you should go through your fan’s manual or consult the manufacturer to make sure that your fan is compatible with that specific receiver.
Defective or incompatible receivers can make an electrical buzzing as the fan draws more current through it than the receiver is made to handle. If you do not deal with instantly, the receiver could cause damage or develop short circuits. It usually happens when wireless receivers are used to control older ceiling fans.
Defective or damaged electric motors can cause audible buzzing sounds. The buzzing comes from the electrical windings vibrating against the motor housing. in some circumstances, the motor will buzz without turning as well.
A trained professional might be able to repair a malfunctioning fan motor. Still, it will be cost-effective as well as practical approach to change it fully. Older fans should be changed fully when their motors stop working.
You may observe electrical noises from other electrical circuit parts in a room where you have installed the fan, for instance, electrical light switches or outlets.
Trained electricians should be hired to deal with electrical issues. But if you are confident that you can handle it yourself, you have to switch off the power of your house in which you are going to work.
#12. Improper Installation
It is not a simple task to properly install a ceiling fan in your space. Improper installation is potentially dangers and it can also produce noise. Let’s suppose, if your ceiling fan is not affixed to the ceiling correctly. In this case, it will vibrate or swing around and may eventually fall to the ground too. An improperly wired ceiling fan can be a fire hazard.
The ideal way to avoid improper installation is to call a trained professional to install it, an electrician.
#13. Poor Design or Defects
If you and a trained electrician have tried to find every possible cause of ceiling fan noise, you might have installed a bad ceiling fan. Due to the decline of American capitalist economic system, the quality of American consumer goods has declined too in the past 20 years.
You will see the signs of manufacturing defects and poor design while operating such fan, it will result in inconsistent speed of spinning, excessively loud whirring when fan rotates, and excessive vibration while working. Defective fans can also fall apart while operation.
A recent example of defective ceiling fans was known in December 2020 US Consumer Consumer Product Safety Commission ordered recall of more than 190,000 Hampton Bay Indoor/Outdoor sold at Home Depot. The mounting screws could get loose due to the poor construction, resulting in the fan blades to rattle, and lastly, detaching from the fan and allowing property damage as well as injuries to consumers.
Recognizing Types of Ceiling Fan Noise (and What They Mean)
When trying to identify and fix the cause of ceiling fan noise, it is necessary to go through the manual came with fan from manufacturer.
The average residential ceiling fan should not exceed 60 dB (decibels) to 70 dB, and it is acceptable, or the volume of a normal talk or pre-pandemic corporate office. The noise ceiling fans are of five different types and they make it when they are dirty, damaged or malfunctioning:
Clicking or Rattling
Rattling and clicking are the mechanical noises produced by two or more components of the fan hitting one another. In-ceiling fans have joints between the two parts, for instance, the joint between the blade irons and the fan blades. A clicking ceiling fan usually means that one or more components are loose that is why they are causing it.
Humming noises in ceiling fans can be electrical or mechanical, and it’s hard to find out which it is. Mechanical humming is typically the result of the vibration of the ceiling fan motor in its housing.
Electrical humming is often because of bad connection in the wiring between the circuit breaker and the fan. The hum can be made by electrical parts when vibrating in the magnetic fields generated by the power/current.
An insect trapped in the housing of the fan or the lighting fixture globe can be another reason why your fan is humming.
Rubbing Noises (Grinding, Scraping, Squeaking)
Most of the noises a ceiling fan produce are a result of moving parts rubbing against each other. The noises will be produced from the rotor, motor, flywheel, or other components near the center of the unit.
To find out the exact nature of the noise, you need to see the materials which are rubbing together. The high-pitched metallic noise will be produced by the rubbing of metal parts. A dull noise will be produced from the improper rubbing of the plastic parts.
The whirring is produced by the blades of fan moving through the air and is produced under regular rotation. If the noise is very loud, it means that something is wrong with the blades. It is a possibility as it is not a common reason for noise in ceiling fans.
Buzzing, Crackling, or Sizzling
Crackling, sizzling or buzzing noises typically occur when there is an electrical issue in your fan. A professional electrician can handle such problems.
When the electrical parts vibrating under the influence of the magnetic fields generated by electrical circuits, electrical humming, electrical buzzing is typically caused by them. The larger components cause the buzzing or by vibrating of the parts with other components of the fan.
Sizzing and crackling are very bad noises in nature for any electrical appliance to produce. They are a result of short circuits which could cause a fire, or even small electrical fire too.
Ceiling fans are expected to be quiet in terms of performance but many problems with them can make them noisy. In many cases, a competent DIYer can fix these problems, but some of them need professional help. It’s may be just a loose screw or two.