Fan wobbly or rocking

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Last Updated: May 4, 2021
ceiling fan

Fans tend to rock or wobble and over time may come loose or even fall. In order to correct this, you need to know what the fan is doing. Is the fan rocking or is it wobbling? There is a fun test that anyone can easily do.

Fun test

To do the test, either tie or tape a 12 or 14-inch string with a light weight on it, to the center bottom area of the fan or to the light of the fan. Now turn the fan on and set it to a medium speed. Watch the string.

• If the string is moving in an orbital or egg-shaped movement then the fan is considered wobbling.
• If the string is moving from side to side, then the fan is rocking.

Wobbly fans

Try tightening the screws and bolts at the blades. Do this at the down rod from the mounting ball, at the fan’s mounting bracket, and with the screws or bolts to the ceiling box. Check for warped, cracked, or missing blades.

Another common cause of wobbling is that the blades are not properly balanced. This is usually easily corrected. Home improvement centers carry kits with self-adhesive fan blade balancing weights.

Rocking fans

When a fan is rocking, it is usually not unbalanced blades that are causing the issue. Rocking generally relates to the installation and the airflow of the fan. The three main reasons for rocking is:

  1. The down rod is too short
  2. The airflow is improper, i.e. a furnace or A/C vent is blowing air against the fan when it is running or an open door or window near the fan is changing the airflow.
  3. The ceiling box to which the fan is attached is too loose or not installed properly.
  4. Fan location: too close to a wall or other obstruction. It is better to be near the center of a room, than too close to a wall.

Caution

Fans that continually wobble or rock usually get worse over time and may even work loose from their connections. Therefore, it is wise to maintain your fans and not let them get too wobbly or rock for too long.

Owners can usually correct most wobbly or rocking fan issues on their own. A qualified handyman or fan installer is another resource.

Who to consult? Fan installers, electricians and qualified handymen

Home owners often install their own fans. Fan installers, electricians and qualified handymen generally do this work.

Additional Resources




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