This is going to be a dumb question. We have a Hunter ceiling fan, and every time my boyfriend pulls the cord to shut the fan off, he never lets it stop by itself. He waits until he can put his hand in there without getting injured and stops the fan abruptly. I am very upset about this but he says that there is nothing wrong with doing it because he knows how a fan motor works. I am worried when he does that he loosens the fan from the ceiling, but he totally disagrees. What is your opinion?
I would advise against him stopping the fan with his hand for a few reasons, some of which have nothing to do with the fan motor. He is correct in that stopping the fan with his hand will probably not damage the motor directly. However, there are two other factors to consider... the type of ceiling mount and the fan blades.
If the fan is mounted strictly in accordance with the current NEC (national electrical code) which requires using a specially installed ceiling box bridging across two ceiling joists, he probably won't damage the mount. However, if the fan is located on an ordinary ceiling box, there is the risk that his maneuver will eventually loosen the box or even cause the fan to abruptly drop from the ceiling. Even with the more solid mount, there may be eventual loosening of the bracket which might not cause the fan to fall but may cause some wobbling. The bracket is not designed to take that sort of stress.
Even if the fan is securely mounted, there is the issue of the fan blades... specifically the balancing of the blades. Constant sudden force on the blades can cause them to become misaligned and out of balance. This can be caused through slight bending or movement in the blade mounting brackets themselves or even in slight bending in the blades. Though slight imbalance is not uncommon and hardly noticeable in most ceiling fans, increased imbalance may cause the fan to wobble or shake, especially at higher speeds. This misalignment will become more and more pronounced making the fan become noisier and putting unnecessary stress on the motor due to the uneven force... in the worst case possibly leading to motor damage. Though less likely, there is also the chance that one of the blades may crack, requiring replacement, as they are not designed to take this type of abuse.
To close out, what your friend is doing may not have any effect at all on your fan or it may have a disastrous effect. Considering these two possibilities and the fact that stopping the fan abruptly is a choice and not a necessity, I think that a better choice can be made... don't touch!
copyright 2000 G.G. Alonzy
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