Getting ready for the warmer months
Ceiling Fan Cleaning & Maintenance
by Benjamin Roussey
Ceiling Fan Repair
Balancing a Ceiling Fan
Ceiling fans are often ignored. However, regular maintenance ensures that they provide peak performance. It also enhances their lifespan. Knowing how to prevent and correct dust accumulation, loose screws, wobbly blades, and noise only takes minutes.
Cleaning the Blades
The blades on a ceiling fan easily gather dust and need to be cleaned frequently. Too much dust can cause the fan to overheat.
Vacuuming with a brush attachment is a fast and efficient choice for cleaning the blades. If a vacuum isn't available, you can just use a cloth. Clean the edges of the blades first before doing the top and the bottom. Rinse out the cloth frequently. Do not use harsh chemicals. A little dish soap in the water works fine. Never put too much pressure on the blades.
You may choose to use some furniture polish on the blades. A light coat is sufficient. And, naturally you'll want to take appropriate precautions with any ladder or stool you use.
You should probably clean the blades every other month or so, but certainly at least twice during the summer months.
Correcting a Wobble
If your ceiling fan wobbles, it is likely unbalanced. This can be repaired with the help of a balancing kit available at most hardware stores. Failure to keep a fan balanced increases wear and tear on the fan's motor and shortens its lifespan. An unbalanced fan is also a safety hazard and can loosen electrical wiring and even lead to the fan collapsing. A loose support bracket can also be the culprit in some instances.
A balancing kit will contain blade clips and adhesive-backed weights. Measure the leading edge of each fan blade to the ceiling. Affix a balancing clip on the blade that's closest to the ceiling. Turn the fan on low and see if the wobble is better. If not, repeat the process beginning with the measurement. You may need to add weights to two or three blades. You might also need more than one weight on a blade.
Once the wobble is gone take the backing off the balancing weight and stick it on the top of the blade near where the clip was.
What to Do if You Have a Squeaky Fan
A squeaky ceiling fan can be fixed in a few simple steps. With the fan off, hold each blade and shake it slightly to see if any of the screws securing the blade are loose. Tighten any that are. If the fan has a light option, see if the light bulbs or any other fixtures have come loose.
Test the fan and see if the squeaking has stopped. If not, remove the cover that hides the fan hanger. Lubricate any moving parts and replace the cover.
If the fan still squeaks, the problem may be with the fan bearings. As the fan ages, bearings in the motor wear out and begin to squeak. In extreme cases, the fan can overheat and cause the motor to seize. Most newer fans have sealed bearings, which cannot be lubricated.
In some instances, your fan might make a humming noise. That could be caused by a wall switch that's not compatible with your fan. Your local hardware store can help you with the proper switch.
You'll want to inspect, clean, and lubricate ceiling fans at the onset of warm weather. Cleaning and tweaking a single fan should not take you more than half an hour if you have all the materials you need.
Benjamin Roussey is from Sacramento, CA, and grew up doing all varieties of home improvement projects around the home since his parents did not hire contractors or outside help to maintain their home or vehicles. As a result, he has acquired a multitude of home handyman skills in plumbing, carpentry, electrical and everything in between. He also has two Masters degrees and he served four years in the U.S. Navy.
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