Ceiling Fan Making Grinding Noise

by Jennifer Porterfield | Last Updated: May 3, 2022
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Ceiling fans are arguably the most popular style of fans found across homes in America. Although they can be quite expensive, they can also be the centerpiece of a room and prove adequate cooling.

Many of the best ceiling fans also have lights, unlike AC units or tower fans, enabling them to illuminate large rooms. While there are thousands of different styles to choose from, all have one common problem you’ll encounter eventually, ceiling fan making noise.

You’re likely to be here because you’re wondering why is my ceiling fan making noise? This appears to be a very common issue, and so, this article will provide all the relevant information on your you’re hearing ceiling fan noise, and what to do for each scenario.

Why Is My Ceiling Fan Making Noises? Reasons & Fixes

As already mentioned, there are multiple answers to why does my ceiling fan make noise? You could be hearing your fan making grinding noise, rattling noise, humming noise, or scraping noise.

Here are the 7 most likely reasons why your ceiling fan making noise, and how you can fix them with just a few simple and easy steps by yourself:

  1. Dirty blades
  2. Damaged blades
  3. Loose motor cover
  4. Loose mounting bracket
  5. Loose components
  6. Insufficient lubrication
  7. Compromised light

Dirty Blades

One of the most important procedures to conduct regularly on ceiling fans is their maintenance. So, the first reason on our list for a ceiling fan making noise could be due to dirty blades. It’s generally up to you when it comes to how often you want to clean the fan as it should be based on how dusty the environment is.

However, you should certainly stay on top of it by checking for dust weekly, and cleaning if necessary. As you should know, fans are susceptible to catching dirt and dust very easily, and once this builds-up on the blades of the ceiling fan, it will be pulling additional weight and may start ceiling fan noise.

To clean your fan blades, you can follow these simple steps:

  1. Make sure the fan is turned off. To be safe, you can even turn it off from your breaker box.
  2. You then can either have it dusted without removing it from the ceiling or you can bring the blades down to completely have them washed. It depends on the severity of the dirt on the blades of course. If you haven’t cleaned the fan for a long time, it is advised to have the blades brought down so you can clean all components more easily and better.
  3. If you choose to leave the blades on, it’s advised to use a fiber cloth or potentially even a vacuum to clean the blades up. You must be careful and make sure you’re using a sturdy ladder while doing this. If you took the blades off, you can wash the blades with mild soap. If the surface of your blades seems like it can’t take any mild chemicals then just use water.        
  4. Finally, once the blades and the body are suitably clean, attach the blades correctly if you need to, before turning the fan on and checking whether this has fixed the ceiling fan making grinding noise.

Note: If your ceiling fan has bulbs, make sure you clean them as well, including their globes or housing.

Damaged Blades

If cleaning the blades hasn’t fixed the ceiling fan grinding noise, you may need to check if your blades are still evenly aligned or if any of them are distorted. Bent fan blades can occur as your ceiling fan continuously spins, causing them to occasionally distort.

Uneven and bent blades will cause them to wobble and that could create a rubbing ceiling fan noise. You, therefore, will need to make sure the blades are straight and aligned. To do so, here are 6 steps to follow:

  1. You should turn off the ceiling fan not only on the fan but also on the home panel or electric circuit breaker as you have to bring the blades down. The process may require you to touch some or a few wirings and so it’s safer to ensure there is no power whatsoever.
  2. Take the blades off carefully depending on the ceiling fan that you have, you may be required to loosen some screws so make sure you have your tools ready.
  3. Lay blades on a flat surface and inspect them after all of the blades are removed and brought down to a level surface, check to see if they’re leveled.
  4. Fix bent blades  you can fix the bent blades by applying pressure while bending them so that you can bring them back to their original shape. Inspect the blades to ensure they’re all equal afterward.
  5. Reassemble the fan  finally, put the fan back together, turn the fan on and check if the wobbling or hissing ceiling fan noise is still present.

Now, if you find that none of the blades are bent, and are instead mostly imbalanced, you may wish to attempt to fix them using a balancing kit. This is to avoid any damage or accidentally bending the blades too much. Here’s an example of a fan blade balancing kit, readily available on Amazon!

Loose Motor Cover

A loose motor cover is possible after a few months of using your ceiling fan. It can also happen if you have recently cleaned the blades and motor of the ceiling fan yourself and forgot to put it back on properly.

This check is pretty simple, all you need to do is climb up your ladder and have a feel of the cover to see if it is loose or wobbly. If indeed it is, try to screw the cover back in place or simply snap it in place, and hopefully, this will stop your ceiling fan making noise.

Loose Mounting Bracket

If you have a loose mounting bracket, you will need to act immediately otherwise you may risk an accident occurring. It may first appear like the blades are wobbly but you will need to make sure. If your ceiling fan comes with a down rod, then make sure to also have this checked.

You will have to remove the motor, blades, and lighting to be able to thoroughly check the mount and down rod. It could be as easy as using a screwdriver or as complicated as needing a welding tool. If the damage is severe, you will need to speak to a professional if you do not have the welding capability.

Loose Components

Just like with the fan’s motor itself, the interior components could also become loose due to prolonged usage. It’s likely that a component was not screwed securely after being previously cleaned. This process is of course a bit more complicated than the cover, as you will need to check multiple components.

To do these checks, you will first also have to unscrew the cover, disassembling the fan to check if anything is wrong with the motor’s interiors. This is very important because it could be a key reason for your ceiling fan to fall apart. If any loose components are found, act immediately.

Insufficient Lubrication

If you have insufficient lubrication, your fan making noise is going to be more likely. The noise you are hearing is probably something squeaky or sounds like your fan making grinding noise, because it has dried up. Lubrication is so crucially important to ensure the motor doesn’t burn up.

If the motor bearings in the motor are running without sufficient lubrication, the fan will simply have a difficult time spinning and speeding up, which may result in squeaking or grinding noises that can be unbearable.

In order to avoid this situation, the following steps can be followed to help lubricate the bearings:

  1. Turn off the power and gather tools you should not only turn the fan off but also your panel or circuit breaker. You will then need to grab the necessary tools to disassemble the parts of your fan.
  2. Take apart fan using a screwdriver, take apart the fan remember to take the parts carefully to avoid damaging any wirings. Remove the motor from the interior after detaching the blades and lighting.
  3. Locate the bearings in the motor  apply drops of lubricating oil to the bearings. It is generally recommended to apply between 2 and 3 drops and spin the bearings back and forth to apply the oil coat evenly.
  4. Reassemble fan once you’ve lubricated all the bearings in the motor, carefully reassemble your fan before checking if the ceiling fan making grinding noise still.

Compromised Light

If your ceiling fan has multiple lights on it, it’s possible that one of them has become loose. It could be the light cover or the light socket itself so you will need to check both. Either of these can cause the bulb to vibrate and hit the motor or the body causing the ceiling fan rattling.

If you find that it is not the light or the light cover that’s causing the ceiling fan rattling noise, my next bet is the light string you pull to turn the light and the fan on/off. This may be getting in the way of the blades.

It may go unnoticed, therefore, you should always inspect your fan for this as it could easily lead to damage, and thereafter, prohibit you from switching the lights and the fan itself.

When to Seek Professional Help

If none of the solutions listed work, it may be time to hire some help. The issue may be very technical and may require intermediate skills, so don’t try to fix it all by yourself if you’re really having a hard time avoiding causing more damage or a greater problem.

A professional electrician or handyman can come to the rescue with your difficult task. If your fan is generally in good shape and you want to keep it rather than forking out on a new one, hiring a professional is a good idea because it may be an internal motor issue that they will be able to fix.

A professional could be a licensed electrician that you know or you can also check with the customer service of the manufacturer of your ceiling fan. If they have no customer service, you can also check with the store where you purchased it. And, if you’re lucky, your ceiling fan may have a warranty for a few years. So this means that you don’t have to spend anything to get it fixed or even replaced!

However, if your fan is old and/or no longer matches your decor, it certainly may be time for a replacement. The older a fan is, the harder it will be to obtain the right parts. A fresh, modern fan is a great makeover for any room.

Here’s an example of a best-selling ceiling fan readily available on Amazon:

Visit our Best Quiet Ceiling Fan guide for reviews on some of the best ceiling fans available!

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

How do you fix a grinding ceiling fan?

A ceiling fan may be making a grinding noise because it has unbalanced blades that are causing the fan to wobble. Ceiling fan blades can become unbalanced by dust collecting on the blades when the fan isn’t in use. Therefore, it is important to clean them frequently by wiping them down with a damp rag to remove any dust and debris causing them to be unbalanced. You may also need to detach the blades to realign them. To do so apply pressure while bending them so that you can bring them back to their original shape.

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