Balancing a Ceiling Fan

The Natural Handyman


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Dear NH,
Do you have any resources for balancing ceiling fans? I am a renter and the fan is quite noisy, wobbling and shaking. It is a ceiling-mount fan, it looks new and seems to otherwise be in great shape.
LC

Dear LC,
Ceiling fans are both energy-saving and aesthetically a hoot! When I walk into a room with a slowly revolving ceiling fan, I just want to throw off my shoes and collapse on the lounge chair... awaiting the next Pina Colada. Of course, if the lounge chair in under the fan you want to be sure that the fan is going to stay where it belongs... on the ceiling.

A wobbly fan is usually (but not always) caused by imbalance in the blades and/or the blade brackets. Though it would be easy to blame poor manufacturing and quality control, the fact is that perfect balance is almost impossible, especially since the unit is assembled on site under "human" conditions. Just a slight variation in a blade caused by "play" in the mounting holes can cause a wobble. Fortunately, unless the imbalance is substantial, the problem only appears when the fan runs at higher speeds.

The first thing to determine is if the fan itself has loosened from its ceiling mount. Try to move the body of the fan... does it appear to solidly attached? Be careful... if the mount is very loose it could fall into your hands! The fan will have a cover or plate that will allow you access to the mounting screws should you need to tighten them.

If the fan seems firmly attached but the mounting box seems to be moving or sagging... RED FLAG! Your fan may have been mounted onto a non-code electrical box. Nowadays, all ceiling fans must be mounted onto a special electrical box that is firmly attached across two ceiling joists with special mounting brackets. In contrast, typical electrical boxes are only attached to the side of one joist... great for low weight chandeliers or normal lighting fixtures but not so great for heavy moving objects! If this appears to be the case, you should get an electrician to examine the box and if necessary install the proper supports... or replace the box entirely.

If the fan mounting is secure, examine the blades. Are all screws tight? Tightening a few loose screws can be all that is needed to end the wobbling. If all the fasteners are firmly attached, then your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to balance the blades.

Blade balancing is similar to automobile tire balancing... except you don't have fancy computerized equipment to help you! It is a matter of trial and error... attaching small weights to the blades one at a time to determine which blade is heavier or lighter. There is an excellent FAQ on ceiling fans at Hansen Wholesale at www.hansenwholesale.com/faq.html. They explain the entire procedure used to balance a ceiling fan, though they recommend purchasing a balancing kit.
NH

COPYRIGHT 1999 G.G. ALONZY


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