Are Ceiling Fans Supposed to Wobble? (And How to Fix It) 

It is not uncommon to see your ceiling fan wobbling, especially just after you installed it. The first question that comes to your mind would be; is this normal, is a ceiling fan supposed to wobble like that?

Ceiling fans are not supposed to wobble violently. Most fans have a small wiggle which is accepted. But if it is anything more than that, there might be a problem with either the fan or its installation.

But how much wobble is acceptable? Or should there be no wobble at all? What are the causes? I know there are many questions you have, I try to answer them below. Please read on;

A wobbling ceiling fan

How much wobble is accepted for a ceiling fan?

If your ceiling fan does not wobble at all, perfect! But most ceiling fans have a slight wobble especially when their speed settings are changed. In some cases, it will be a slight jerk when switching on the fan or changing its speed but afterward, the fan should run smoothly.

To be honest, there is no fixed figure on how much wobble is accepted. You are the judge in this case. If you fear that the fan is going to fall off, or if it makes noise, it is wobbling above the accepted limit. Any wobbling shouldn’t be more than a few millimeters. Since there is no way for me to demonstrate this, I am seeking the help of the video posted below, see the fan wobbling slightly?

Well, that’s not too bad, I would say that is within the acceptable limit provided the fan is running at its highest speed. Even if the wobbling is small at lower speed settings the fan can jerk violently at higher speeds.

Also, the chances of a fan wobbling are more if it has a long downrod.

What might cause the wobbling?

The most common reason for a fan wobbling is unbalanced blades. If the blades are not installed properly, or if they are warped or bent, the fan will wobble. Other reasons include improper seating of the ball socket joint and support bracket issues.

The ball joint socket is not correctly fitted

A ceiling fan will almost always wobble if the ball joint socket isn’t seated correctly and firmly into the notch of the hanging bracket. In most cases, you’ll find that the fan is wobbling at whatever speed the fan is running. 

It doesn’t matter what steps you take to balance the fan, if the ball socket and the hanging bracket are not correctly placed and aligned the fan will keep on wobbling. 

Support bracket issues

Many ceiling fans have incorrectly been installed on electrical boxes which are designed for light fixtures. Thus, the fan is not attached to a box designed to carry the additional load. A ceiling fan has to be installed with an electrical box designed for carrying extra weight. 

If your ceiling fan is installed on a box designed for a light fixture it will most probably wobble. If the wobbling is getting worse the fan can actually fall from the ceiling. A properly mounted fan will be attached to a fan-rated box which is mounted with screws or a brace to the supporting beam above the ceiling. 

Unbalanced or warped blades

As mentioned before unbalanced or warped blades are the most common reason why a fan wobbles. A bent or warped blade can cause the center of gravity of the fan to shift. Even if this center of gravity is off by a few millimeters from the fan’s center point, the fan will shake violently when running.

Unfortunately, it is not easy to locate a damaged blade as even a slight bent of a few millimeters can cause the fan to wobble. We cannot easily detect such small variations. To detect this, one will have to measure the distance of each fan blade from the ceiling with a measuring tape. If any of the blades is farther or closer to the ceiling than the others, you found the culprit.

Wobbling of the light fixture

If your ceiling fan has a light fixture, it could be the reason why the fan shakes. Light fixtures are normally attached to the fan via screws. The loosening of any of these screws can cause the light fixture to move, and this will cause the whole fan to wobble.

How to fix a wobbling ceiling fan

In most cases, it is easy to fix a shaking fan. This can be done as a DIY job if you work according to the following steps:

Step 1: Cut the electricity to the fan

Cut the electricity to the fan. Don’t just turn it off at the wall switch, but switch the circuit breaker off.  If you don’t know which circuit breaker is the correct one, turn ON the fan and switch the circuit breakers off one by one. When the fan stops turning you’ve found the right circuit breaker!

Step 2: Get a ladder

Get a ladder enabling you to reach the ceiling easily and put your toolbox nearby. Remember a ceiling fan can be heavy and you have to stand on a steady surface or ladder to work on it or take it down. 

Step3: Remove the bracket housing

Unscrew and remove the bracket housing from the ceiling.

Step 4: Check whether the outlet box is ceiling fan rated or not

Check the electrical box to see if it has a label with the words “fan-rated box.”  If you see the words, you know the correct box has been used. If the box is not marked as fan-rated, it is an electrical box for a light fixture which is normally not suitable to take the extra weight of the fan. (Refer: How to know if an outlet box is ceiling fan rated)

An incorrect type of box might be the cause of the wobbling. Replace the box with the correct electrical box.  

If it is a fan-rated box, look whether it’s tightly fastened with U-bolts or lag screws to a support beam above the ceiling. 

Step 5: Tighten the support bracket 

If you’ve determined that the right electrical box is in place, you have to test whether you can wiggle it. Gently, shake the support bracket. If it wiggles, tighten it with a screwdriver. Tighten it until there is no wiggle possible. 

Step 6: Check the ball joint

If your ceiling fan hangs from a down rod, ensure that its ball joint is tightly secured to the fan’s support bracket. The fan will never be in balance if this connection is not correctly aligned. 

Step 7: Double-check all screws and bolts for tightness

Even one loose screw can be the reason why a ceiling fan is unbalanced and wobbling.

Step 8: Measure your blades from the ceiling

All the blades should be exactly the same distance from the ceiling. The fan is unbalanced when one of the blades is hanging lower or higher than the others. Use a ruler to measure. If one blade is hanging it is most likely warped and you need to replace it.

Balancing ceiling fan blades

Step 9: Make sure the fan is properly supported

If you’ve completed the 8 steps and the fan is still wobbling, it might be that the fan is not supported enough by the support beam. Then you have to go into the attic (or room above the fan) to see whether it is securely fastened. If you can’t get access to the support beam or don’t know if the beam offers enough support, you should contact an electrician to assist you.

Step 10: Check blades again

If everything seems in place and the fan is still wobbling, you’ll have to go back to the blades. Inspect everyone again for cracks or signs of distress. You’ll most probably have to take each blade off to inspect.  

If you can’t get the fan to stop wobbling, you’ll have to contact a professional technician.

Charles John

Experienced HVAC technician with 8 years of experience in the industry. Capable of handling all sorts of heating and cooling equipment as well as proficient in operational management, construction-related techniques such as preventative maintenance, electrical troubleshooting and AutoCAD

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