Why Burning Smell Coming From New Ceiling Fan

Sometimes, one of the first things that you notice when you turn on your new ceiling fan is an odor coming from it that smells like burning. While this could be alarming, it’s likely nothing to worry about, and there are quite a few possible explanations as to why your ceiling fan smells like it’s on fire. To help eliminate some of the guesswork and give you peace of mind, let’s look at some of the most common reasons why your ceiling fan might smell like it’s on fire and what you can do about it if you experience this yourself!

Is it normal for new ceiling fans to smell?

While a burning smell in old fans means that something has overheated, a slight odor is common in new ceiling fans. When you first turn on your newly installed ceiling fan, you can smell something that might be described as an electrical smell. Most often, it will vanish after a few hours. Leave your ceiling fan on for 24 hours and see if the smell disappears or not. In case of a strong burning smell, turn off the fan immediately. Any strong and persistent smell is of concern and needs appropriate investigation.

Common reasons for burning smell in new ceiling fans & Fixes

There are numerous reasons why your brand-new, just-installed ceiling fan could have an electrical burning smell. The wiring that connects the ceiling fan to a power source is probably faulty, while in rare cases, the fan motor might have a problem. In case of wiring issues, there’s nothing wrong with your new ceiling fan, and you don’t need to replace it. However, to know for sure what’s going on with your ceiling fan, you might have to take it down to inspect and repair the wiring.

Initial troubleshooting to determine smell cause

The burning smell from old ceiling fans can be because of a worn-out motor or wiring issues. While in the case of new fans, the burning smell’s probable cause is faulty or improper wiring. First, you have to determine the odor source to solve this issue. Check if the burning smell is coming from the fan or the ceiling where the wiring is coming out. The smell can also come from the wiring behind the wall or the switchboard. This initial investigation is crucial in determining your next course of action.

Safety precautions when working with fans

Ceiling fans can be dangerous if not wired correctly. For that reason, it’s always essential to make sure you have basic safety precautions in place before working on your ceiling fan wiring. It might be wise to flip off power at the circuit box to ensure that any accidents don’t result in catastrophic injuries. Also, ask for assistance when taking down the ceiling fan. 

If you need to open the fan housing, be careful when working near the fan’s capacitors. They may still hold some residual charge even when the circuit breaker is turned off. More importantly, it is better to hire a professional if you are not knowledgeable about electric wiring and repairs. 

Fixing faulty wiring to eliminate the burning smell

In most cases, when a burning smell comes from your electrical system, it’s due to something like a broken wire or an overloaded circuit. So, it usually results in tripped circuit breaker as well. However, you can solve these issues with proper electrical repairs. The burning smell comes from an electric arc when two wires or a wire and a conductive metal mixture produce a spark. A black and sooty wire and the adjoining area confirm the faulty wiring. To fix this fault, you’ll have to rewire the fan properly.

Replace the worn-out motor to fix the burning smell

If your old ceiling fan is rotating slowly along with a burning smell, then the worn-out motor or dry bearings may be the cause. Also, the circuit breaker won’t trip in this case. To fix this issue, you can replace the motor, apply some lubricant to the dry bearings or replace any other faulty part such as the capacitor. If you don’t want to invest in an old fan’s restoration, buying a new ceiling fan is the best option.

Can a ceiling fan catch on fire?

The good news about ceiling fans is that there’s minimal risk of catching on fire as long as you install them correctly. The bad news is that many accidents happen due to poor wiring. Burnt wires or electrical components could damage even worse if left unchecked for too long. Also, an unsteady ceiling fan running at high speed with a shaky mount can result in loose and exposed wiring, becoming a fire hazard.

What causes a ceiling fan to overheat?

One common complaint about ceiling fans is that they overheat and then cause a burning smell. If you keep your ceiling fan on over a prolonged period without lowering the speed, the fan motor will overheat. Moving parts inside the fan can generate friction even if they are well-oiled. Thus, friction may generate heat that gives off a burning smell. So, keep giving your ceiling fan some rest to avoid damage to your fan. According to experts, you can keep your fan on continuously for 8 hours on average without fear of damage to the fan due to overheating.

Final thought

Relax, if you’re experiencing that telltale burnt odor and wondering if it could be coming from your ceiling fan. It’s not uncommon for new ceiling fans to develop an odor. Typically, it means that some of the plastic components are still being broken down or off-gassing. 

However, it would be best to double-check a strong burning smell that is not going away to make sure it isn’t due to something more serious such as faulty wiring. It’s better to attend to such issues quickly instead of letting things get out of hand due to negligence. Burning smells are bad news, so call in professional help if you notice one while operating your brand-new ceiling fan.

Charles John

A novice DIYer who learns about home ventilation. I am a mechanical engineer and have a basic knowledge of HVAC systems but I learn continuously to make myself the best blogger in that space.

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