Ceiling fans are perhaps the most economical and convenient way of keeping the surroundings cool, especially in the absence of air-conditioning. Though they can be tricky to deal with if they suddenly stop working. There’s a lot that one needs to take into account before prescribing a solution. Figuring out the exact reason can be difficult, but the solutions are easy to carry out once you do.
In this read, you’ll be learning the most straightforward ways to deal with ceiling fans halting unexpectedly. We’ll be going through the potential problems along with their fixes. So, without further ado, let us start!
Table of Contents
1. Tripped ELCB
One of the most common reasons your ceiling fan stops working is that it isn’t getting any electricity supplied to it. Usually, this occurs when the circuit breaker is tripped. The circuit breaker is responsible for keeping the electricity supply stable. In the case of an unbalance, short circuit, or overload, it burns up and cuts off the supply, hence stopping your appliance from functioning.
A tripped breaker can be taken care of by simply switching it back into its place. In this scenario, nothing requires to be replaced or repaired, but one should take a look into what caused the breaker to trip in the first place. Note that a breaker continuously tripping is anything but normal.
The breaker trips when the current flow malfunctions and the reoccurrence of this event is something harmful to your appliances. In such a case, we recommend seeking the help of an electrician because most often, the problem lies in the wiring.
2. Faulty Wall switch
Sometimes, the problem lies not in your fan or the breaker, but in the switch on the wall. Now, the types of switches used for ceiling fans are of several types. Some operate through a dimmer, some happen to have an on/off wall switch, some come with a pull chain, while some have all of these for full control. Oftentimes, people tend to mix these up and end up thinking the switch has gone off.
Make sure to check that the fan has been switched on from everywhere, including the chain, switch, and dimmer. If the problem persists, then we’ll move to the solution. However, before tweaking the switch, you first have to ensure that the fault is in fact in the switch and not elsewhere.
Solution 1: Adjusting the wires
Proceed by removing the wall switch panel and accessing the electric wires that connect the switch to the fan. It is recommended to turn off the breaker of that particular room first to avoid any mishaps. Once the panel is removed, see if any wires are loose.
The wires must be connected to the panel closely. If they are not, attach them to the terminal and carefully interlink them with the screws. This will guarantee that there are not any disruptions in the connection between the ceiling fan and the wall switch. Once the wires are tightly connected to the terminal, you can reinstall the panel, turn the breaker on, and see if the fan works.
Solution 2: Replacing the switch
Much like for the rest of the time while dealing with wires, it is necessary to cut off the power supply before you proceed. In the case of a faulty switch, a repair is out of the question most of the time. So, you’ll have to purchase a new wall switch for your ceiling fan and replace it.
Make sure you purchase a product that is similar to the old switch and compatible with your ceiling fan. Once you have that, continue with the following steps:
- Remove the panel of the switch. Usually, this can be done by pulling the panel out of place, but if the panel has screws on it, undo them first.
- Once the panel is completely out of place, look for the wires that connect to the switch of your ceiling fan. Remember to leave the other switches as they are.
- Disconnect the wires from the old ceiling fan switch. This can either be done by hand or by unscrewing the small screws from the terminal.
- Attach the new switch in the old one’s place by twisting the wires together and taping them or screwing them into the terminal.
- Test the switch by turning it on. Once the fan turns on, place the panel back into its place.
In the unlikely case of the new ceiling fan switch not working, make sure you got the right switch and attached the wires properly. Switches for ceiling fans are usually universal, so the chances of your switch still not working are almost non-existent. For an in-depth guide on how to replace a ceiling fan wall switch, you can check out this video here.
3. Faulty remote control
We mentioned that a wall switch is not the only way to operate a ceiling fan, because fans also come with pull chains and even remotes. The remote control might often be the cause of the problem. The most common fix to this problem is to see if the batteries are worn out or not. Weak batteries either make the remote work from a close range or not at all.
If you have a light on the remote, see if it turns on when you press the buttons. Otherwise, try changing the batteries and see if the problem continues. If this solution doesn’t work, try altering the receiver’s frequency.
- Turn off the power supply to the ceiling fan
- Access the receiver by uncovering the fan’s top then set a new frequency on the receiver. Usually, the frequency consists of four digits and you can adjust them as you may.
- Put the cover back into place.
- Take off the back cover of the remote and set the same frequency that you did previously on the receiver.
- Turn on the remote and try checking if the issue is resolved.
If the above method doesn’t work out for you, the last resort is to change the remote itself.
4. Faulty pull chain
Some ceiling fan models come with pull chains that allow you to turn the fan on/off when needed. Much like the rest of your fan’s components, these chains are not prone to faults and damage. In some cases, they may get jammed or broken hence not allowing your fan to turn on.
Fortunately, changing a pull chain is the only solution in most cases. But before we continue, note that if the chain has broken from the outside, an extension would easily get the job done. A replacement is only viable when the chain has broken from the inside or doesn’t click properly. So, here’s how to have your pull chain replaced:
- Cut off the electricity supply to your fan by turning the breaker off.
- Take off your ceiling fan’s cover. You need to access the part where the pull chain ends.
- Unscrew the component that holds the chain into place. Usually, it’s a small collar that can easily be unscrewed by hand.
- Now, the plastic body of the pull chain unit will be able to come down further. You’ll notice a couple of wires attached to it.
- Cut off the old unit with the help of a wire cutter or scissors. Make sure to cut close to the unit, so you leave more wire attached to the fan.
- Attach the new unit to the wires. Twist them all together and put electric tape on top for a firm hold.
- Adjust the pull chain in its place by having it go through the hole. Put on the collar in its place.
- Once the chain is all set, turn the breaker on and test it. Once it works, set the rest of the components of the fan in place.
For a detailed guide on changing the pull chain, check out this article here.
5. Faulty wiring/loose wires
One of the top reasons why a ceiling fan stops working abruptly is because of loose wires and faulty wiring. Damaged wires limit the amount of electrical power reaching the fan, creating issues like motor overheating, slowed fan operation, or sudden stoppage.
Before checking the wires, ensure the main power switch is off to avoid accidents. Also, if the fan has a mounting bracket or hanging hook, it makes inspection much easier. Now follow these steps:
- The first step is to turn the breaker off at the panel.
- Unscrew the housing screws and lower the fan to expose fan wires.
- Use a tester to confirm nothing is hot.
- Check if the fan wires are connected appropriately to the little box on the ceiling. There must be three or four wires running from the ceiling to the fan. Make sure they are not burned, worn out, or damaged in any way. If the wires appear faulty or disconnected, they must be replaced. If not, then tighten the nuts.
- Next, inspect the set of wires within the fan housing and the pull chain switches for blackening. If everything seems fine, put the housing back on.
- Completely take the fan down and use a voltage tester to check the wires’ power. The video details how we can check for power in the wires and hot wires via a voltage tester.
- Finally, turn on the breaker at the panel to see if the fan has started working. If it doesn’t turn on, the capacitor may be defective.
6. Bad fan capacitor
A damaged fan capacitor could be another reason the ceiling fan has stopped working. Some indicators of a bad capacitor include are listed as follows:
- Melting or burning around the capacitor because of overheating
- The slow spinning of fan or no spinning at all
- Inaccurate readings on a multimeter
- Fan not working on some speeds
- Fan making a squeaking or humming sound
If the capacitor remains heated for a prolonged period, it can blow. Hence, it’s best to replace the capacitor as soon as the above problems arise.
- Before touching the faulty capacitor, turn off the main circuit breaker to disconnect the power supply. Moreover, buy a new capacitor for replacement by using the numbers written on the defective capacitor as a guide.
- Expose the capacitor inside the housing of the ceiling fan by loosening the housing. The capacitor will be a squared black box, and it may look slightly burnt or swollen.
- Remove the capacitor by cutting the wires connected to it.
- Insert a new capacitor by connecting the red wire from the fan to the first terminal of the capacitor and the blue wire to the second terminal of the capacitor.
- Connect both red and blue wires and place a wire nut and electric tape to secure the wires. Here’s a video that shows the replacement process of a capacitor in detail.
- Put the capacitor in the wire connector, and connect the neutral wire (black) from the ceiling fan to the second slot of the connector.
- Finally, connect the red (live) and neutral (black) wires to the power supply.
- Turn on the main electrical supply, and check whether the fan is working.
7. Reverse switch in neutral
Some ceiling fans include a reverse switch to alter the direction of their rotation. And based on the direction of spinning, the ceiling fan blades can push air upwards and downwards to warm the house in the winter and cool it in the summer. However, if the fan’s reverse switch is set to neutral, the fan will not spin. Here’s a quick fix to that:
- Locate the reverse switch on the motor housing of the fan and toggle it in any direction. The remote-controlled fan has only one direction. So, for this type of fan, turn off the fan, and flick the switch in the other direction.
- However, a fan without a remote may either have a side-to-side switch or an up-and-down switch. Flick the horizontal switch to the left for a downward airflow, or flick it to the right for upward airflow.
- If a vertical switch is present, turn the switch downward to create a downward airflow or upward to let the airflow in the upward direction.
- Now, switch on the fan to check if it works. If yes, then adjust the direction of the reverse switch according to the weather and preference. Unsure about what direction should a ceiling fan run? Read the linked guide to learn more on this topic – Ceiling Fan Directions In Summer and Winter
8. Problem with fan’s flywheel
A flywheel is a rubber disc that mounts the blades to the motor to reduce fan blades’ vibrations. The round disc is attached to the motor’s shaft with screws and generally displays a pattern of threaded holes for the blades to install.
The most common sign indicating the flywheel of a fan needs replacement is when the fan stops spinning, but the motor keeps humming. This usually occurs when the disc material becomes worn out or broken after extended usage.
Removing the damaged flywheel is the best solution to this problem because the flywheel is relatively inexpensive and readily available for most fan models. On the contrary, repairing a flywheel requires more technical knowledge and time.
The following steps explain how we can replace a broken flywheel on a ceiling fan:
- First, remove the blades from the fan. It’s easier to do this with the fan’s motor removed. Nevertheless, this can still be done with the motor attached in place.
- Open the switch housing.
- Detach any controls, like pull chains, reverse switches, etc., while observing their connections.
- Disconnect all wires from the motor, noting how they are connected, so it’s easier to put them back once the new flywheel is installed.
- Next, take out the entire switch housing from the motor assembly using appropriate tools.
- Remove the old flywheel by pulling out any screws that are attaching it to the fan motor. In doing so, mark the position of the flywheel on the shaft with a permanent marker. It will assist in future placement.
- Dust the area with a dry cloth to clear every broken piece.
- Put the new flywheel into place, feeding the wires through the correct collar holes. Use the previous assembly for reference.
- Tighten the set screw and make sure to replace the previous screws, housing, cover, or slip ring with new parts.
- Reattach the controls and the wiring.
- Lastly, reattach the blades and motor (if removed), and test the fan.
This video explaining how to replace a flywheel on a Casablanca fan might be of some help if the above process seems complicated.
Frequently Asked Questions:
The ceiling fan stopped working but lights still work
When your ceiling fan’s lights are working but the motor isn’t, the issue most probably lies in the capacitor. This occurrence indicates that the fan is getting electricity. All you have to do is replace the capacitor and that would likely solve the problem.
The ceiling fan stopped working but then started again
Usually, a ceiling fan working abnormally or pausing in middle means that there’s an issue in the wiring. Check for loose, faulty, or burnt-out wires that connect the fan to the main supply.
Fan stopped working after changing direction
If a ceiling fan stops working once you change its direction, there’s a big chance that you’ve accidentally switched it to neutral. Note that a ceiling fan does not work when the direction switch is on neutral. Therefore, ensure that the switch is either on the reverse or normal.
Stopped working after a power outage
Power outages are most often accompanied by an unstable supply of electricity. This unbalance can often result in your breaker tripping. Check if the breaker is turned on. If it is, then see if your ceiling fan is getting any electricity at all.
Stopped working, burning smell
A burning smell coming from your ceiling fan is never a good sign and often indicates that the fan is close to breaking down for good. The most probable causes of this are burnt wires or motor. In either case, the burnt component will need to be replaced. For an in-depth analysis, check out this article here.
The ceiling fan stopped working with remote
A faulty remote is often the reason why you’re unable to operate your ceiling fan with it. The possible solutions are changing the remote’s batteries, resetting the remote, adjusting the frequency, and replacing the remote itself.
The ceiling fan stopped working after cleaning
If your ceiling fan doesn’t work after a cleaning session, the problem lies either in the motor or the wires. Ensure that the internal body didn’t get any water inside. Otherwise, you’ll have to dry the relevant component or take your fan to an electrician.
Ceiling fan not running at speeds
A ceiling fan not operating optimally at different speeds may have bearings that need to be lubricated, a worn-out capacitor, or unbalanced blades. To figure out which one of these is the reason, refer to the following article:
A ceiling fan that has suddenly stopped working could be a sign of a major underlying problem. Also, if the same problem reoccurs, it could mean the fan requires replacement. In this guide, we have tried our best to highlight the common fan problems and their probable solutions. If they don’t work out after several attempts, consider seeking professional help.