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Ceiling Fan Not Spinning Fast? Top 9 Reasons (+ Fixes)

Ceiling fans can provide much-needed relief and airflow, but slow-spinning blades quickly ruin the benefits. If your fan’s blades aren’t running like they used to, you don’t have to replace them right away. There are plenty of ways to improve your ceiling fan and bring it back to its original condition.

Your ceiling fan isn’t spinning fast due to one of these common reasons:

  • Broken windings
  • Fan blade imbalances
  • Lack of bearing lubrication
  • Poor capacitor performance
  • Loose components
  • Electrical issues
  • Remote connection failure
  • Custom fan weight problems
  • Bent parts

Throughout this article, we’ll dive into the causes and solutions of why your ceiling fan is moving slower than it should. We’ll also include a few additional suggestions and alternative solutions to prevent your fan from slowing down.

Seared or Damaged Windings

The windings in a ceiling fan’s motor are designed to provide optimal current. These windings play a crucial role in the activation and continuous operation of the fan. Excessive electrical currents, structural damage, misuse, and natural wear and tear can damage the windings. If the windings get too hot, they’ll sear.

Seared, worn, and damaged windings slow the electricity transfer. This process immediately reduces the fan’s speed, making it move the air much slower. If you smell something burnt or the windings look blackened, they need to be replaced. Running a fan with burnt windings can be dangerous.

How to Fix

Follow these steps to replace the ceiling fan windings:

  1. Turn off the circuit breaker going to the ceiling fan.
  2. Dismount the fan’s bolts going to the ceiling.
  3. Remove the bolts mounting the motor to the fan.
  4. Open the motor assembly with a screwdriver to reveal the windings (a series of copper wires in a circle).
  5. Remove the old windings and set them aside.
  6. Retrieve new windings from the manufacturer to ensure they’re the correct size.
  7. Slide the new windings onto the motor assembly, boring a wider hole through the windings if necessary.
  8. Seal the motor assembly, mount it to the fan, and mount the fan to the ceiling.

For a step-by-step video guide, try this tutorial by To Know Everything:

Unbalanced Fan Blades

According to Hunker, unbalanced blades are a leading cause of slow ceiling fans. Hanging items on the blades, letting them run too long without a break, long-term wear, and tear, and many other factors can unbalance the fan.

The wobble causes an unmistakable whirring sound that repeats every time the fan does a full cycle. Increasing the speed increases the frequency.

Check the fan’s blades to ensure they face outward in a straight line. If they look misaligned, there’s undoubtedly an issue. The good news is that fixing this problem is straightforward and simple. We’ll provide everything you need to know below.

How to Fix

So, how can you balance your ceiling fan’s blades? 

Try this process:

  1. Ensure the fan is off, so it doesn’t spin while you work on it.
  2. Tighten the screws on the blade and the arm (the parts holding the blade to the fan’s base).
  3. Use the Alpurple Ceiling Fan Balancing Kit. Attach a clip to each blade to find the culprit, then use the adhesive-backed three-gram weights to balance the guilty blade. This kit includes three clips and nine balancing weights.
  4. If your fan has a height adjustment, check if each of the blades is set to the same height. Wobbly, loose blades will slow and unbalance the fan.

Lack of Lubrication on the Bearings

All motors use bearings to spin. This motion helps the fan function. Without the bearings, the motor would overheat and fail to turn. These bearings need lubrication to prevent excess friction. The bearings might be the culprit if your fan makes a loud screeching sound, grinds, or slows down too often.

Here’s why the bearings slow the fan:

  • Without lubrication, they spin slower than usual.
  • Overheating scorches the motor, preventing it from performing optimally.
  • Too much heat can burn the previously mentioned windings.
  • Improper lubrication leaks into the motor and coagulates.

How to Fix

If your fan’s bearings are screeching or grinding, it’s too late to lubricate them. They need to be replaced. Unfortunately, worn-out bearings typically call for a complete motor replacement. These bearings are hard to remove and replace because of their positioning within the fan’s motor.

However, most fans have lubrication ports. Look near the base of the motor for anything calling for oil, lubrication, and so on. The GENNEL High-Performance Lubricating Oil is an excellent choice because it has a narrow application tip and two grams of oil for your fan. A few drops are often enough to lubricate the fan.

After lubricating the fan, manually turn the blades a few times, then start the motor. Listen for any odd noises and check if the fan is up to its normal speed.

Malfunctioning Capacitor

A ceiling fan’s capacity is its primary battery. Without a powered capacitor, the fan will be slow or won’t run at all. Capacitors wear down from bad bearings, burnt windings, low electrical connections, and long-term use. Fortunately, replacing the capacitor isn’t too difficult and is one of the most common ceiling fan repairs.

Another primary reason the capacitor wears down is water damage. If rainwater drips through the ceiling from a leak, it can short the capacitor. Look for water stains around the fan’s base before working on the capacitor. You wouldn’t want to replace the capacitor repeatedly due to continuous leaks.

How to Fix

Every fan has a capacitor (sometimes called a battery). Contact the manufacturer or review the owner’s manual to find the make and model of the necessary replacement capacitor. Here’s what you’ll need to do:

  1. Turn off the power at the circuit breaker.
  2. Dismount the fan from the ceiling.
  3. Remove the fan’s base from the motor, then locate the internal capacitor.
  4. Remove the two wires from the capacitor (they usually have ring clips that connect to the battery).
  5. Take off the screws from the old capacitor and screw them into the mounting holes on the new unit to attach it to the fan’s base.
  6. Attach the old wires to the new capacitor, ensuring they fit on their designated spots (labeled red and black in most cases).
  7. Seal the base, mount it to the ceiling, turn on the power, and test your work.

Loose Mounting Parts

All ceiling fans have nuts and bolts that mount them to the ceiling. Some of them use adhesive pads, but there’s always a couple (or more) screws that seal the deal. HVAC Seer suggests these parts loosen over time. This predictable process rattles the blades, misaligning and slowing them drastically.

However, internal parts can loosen, too. If your fan rattles after tightening the mounting screws, there might be a loose screw inside. Many fans have external motors attached above the blades. If anything isn’t tightened, it’ll be slow, noisy, and sub-par.

How to Fix

If your ceiling fan is wobbling near the base or ceiling, it’s time to tighten the mounting bolts. This simple process involves turning off the fan and tightening each of the screws with a screwdriver. If the screws are stripped, it’s best to add new screws through drywall anchors. These anchors hold the screws and prevent them from sliding out of the ceiling.

Electrical Failure

Anything that uses electricity has a chance to fail, including your ceiling fan. Most modern ceiling fans require between 110v to 220v of electricity. If the voltage drops, the power won’t be strong enough to support the fan’s needs. It’ll stop working or slow down dramatically, making it much less effective.

Ceiling fans can encounter these electrical problems:

  • Water damage
  • Malfunctioning circuit breakers
  • Exposed or damaged wires
  • Old capacitors (as mentioned above)
  • Burnt windings
  • Wire disconnections
  • Low-gauge wires (too weak to transfer 220 volts)

How to Fix

So, how can you diagnose ceiling fan electrical problems?

  • Use a multimeter, such as the AstroAI Multimeter, to test the voltage. Check the fan’s owner’s manual to know how many volts are needed at the capacitor. Place the red and black nodes on the capacitor’s terminals while the power is on. If it’s lower than necessary, try the steps below.
  • Check if the circuit breaker tripped. If the breaker is flipped halfway, there’s a power surge. This could mean the capacitor isn’t supplying enough power (or too much). Either way, it’s best to replace the capacitor, as shown above.
  • Test the electricity at the circuit breaker if it’s on, but there’s no power at the fan. Use the aforementioned multimeter to look for 220v or 110v, depending on the circuit breaker’s labeled voltage. If it’s below the required amount, you have to replace the circuit breaker. Turn off the house’s power, pull out the breaker, and slide a like-for-like replacement into the slot.
  • If all else fails, locate and tighten each of the wires on the fan. If they’re split or disconnected, replace the wires to prevent electrical problems.

Remote Control Programming Issues

Some ceiling fans include remotes with multiple speed settings. If your fan has two or more adjustments, they can mix with one another. Mr. Right shows these settings can slow down or speed up without your input.

For example, the fast mode can be the slow mode or vice versa. These programming problems arise from one of these two scenarios:

  1. Improper programming from the manufacturer. The manufacturer could’ve accidentally reversed the programming speeds when the remote was made.
  2. An obstructed remote receiver on the fan. Ceiling fans with remotes have built-in receivers to act as communication between the remote and the fan. If the receiver is blocked or damaged, you won’t be able to use the remote properly.

How to Fix

Check the remote’s receiver to ensure it’s not cracked. The receiver is on the end of the remote and inside of the fan. If either of them is broken, they need to be replaced with the part number provided by the fan’s manufacturer.

Solve improper programming by factory resetting the remote. Almost all fan’s come with resetting instructions to reset it to the factory condition. This process will set the speeds to their original settings.

Heavy Custom Fan Blades

Custom fan blades typically don’t cause issues. However, they can be problematic if they’re the wrong shape or size for the fan’s base. If you want customized fan blades, ensure they’re made by or for the manufacturer’s requirements.

The problem lies in the shape and weight of the blades. If they’re too heavy or misaligned, they’ll unbalance the fan. As we mentioned earlier in the post, unbalanced and loose fans slow the blades. This slows down the air circulation in the room. You could have a nice-looking customized fan, but it might not function as you want it to.

How to Fix

Unfortunately, the only way to fix this issue is to get rid of the custom fan blades. However, you can follow these preventative measures to ensure it doesn’t happen again:

  • Check the fan’s maximum weight capacity before ordering the blades.
  • Ensure there’s enough space for the new blades to keep them from bumping each other or the ceiling.
  • Check if the mounting holes align with your current fan’s blade arms.
  • Ask the manufacturer if the fan can handle custom blades.

Cracked or Bent Components

Damaged parts quickly hinder a ceiling fan’s performance. Whether you’re dealing with worn fan blades, warped bases, bent mounting components, or a cracked motor, there’s no use running a damaged fan.

Regular maintenance can prevent cracks and bends. The primary cause of these issues is mishandling when installing the fan and rough use (flying objects, manually stopping the fan’s motion, etc.).

How to Fix

Anything that’s cracked or bent on a ceiling fan should be replaced. There’s no use in bending it back into place or gluing it. These cracks and bends are prone to expanding. The quick expansion will cause hazardous scenarios that cost more money in the long run.

Author

  • Steve Rajeckas

    Steve Rajeckas is an HVAC hobbyist with an avid interest in learning innovative ways to keep rooms, buildings, and everything else at the optimal temperature. When he's not working on new posts for Temperature Master, he can be found reading books or exploring the outdoors.

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