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About a year ago I installed a new ceiling fan in my living room and when it was installed it was balanced nicely, but it has a little wobble. How do I bring it back in to balance?

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Was the fan properly installed, or did it just replace a light fixture? –  Tester101 Jul 30 '10 at 19:12
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You could go high tech and use a tachometer and accelerometer to calculate the synchronous order domain phase angle and magnitude, then develop linear coefficients for mass adjustments to the blades. :) –  Doresoom Jul 30 '10 at 21:41
    
The fan that was installed before this one was just in a light fixture (and it was quite ugly) so when I installed this one I put in a proper fan support box. –  fryguybob Jul 31 '10 at 1:39
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Doresoom, I see you in your XKCD hat, I'm backing away... slowly. –  fryguybob Jul 31 '10 at 1:49
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6 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Most new fans comes with a balance kit. It includes a heavy clip and a set of stick-on weights. If you don't have the balance kit you can buy one at a big-box home improvement store.

  1. First, run the fan at each speed to see where it wobbles worst.
  2. Put the clip on one of the blades near the middle and run the fan at that speed.
  3. Check if the wobble improves or worsens.
  4. Repeat the process with each blade, and narrow it down to the blade that gives the most improvement.
  5. Now, try moving the weight towards the tip of the blade and down to the hub, testing each time you move to locate the sweet spot.
  6. Finally, attach the weight at that sweet spot.
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+1. OK, I admit a balancing kit is better than a handful of coins and some tape. –  Rod Fitzsimmons Frey Jul 31 '10 at 17:08
    
My favorite balancing device is a binder clip. –  Jay Bazuzi Sep 10 '11 at 4:52
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Have you tried cleaning the blades? At high speed, just the dust buildup (which can be significant) on the blade edges can cause a bit of a wobble.

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Good idea! I just cleaned them and there wasn't much dust, but it was worth a shot :D. –  fryguybob Jul 31 '10 at 1:47
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Three things come to mind.

  • The easiest and probably first thing to try is clean it (as Eric suggests).
  • Make sure all the bolts and screws are tight, this may require taking the fan down and reinstalling it.
  • If the fan was not properly secured when it was installed (it was mounted to an existing electrical box), the fan could have loosened the screws/nails holding the box to the rafter/ceiling which could cause the fan to wobble and fall.

When installing ceiling fans I always use one of these braced boxes. They have some that are for new work, or where you have access to the attic. They also make ones for old work, where you can put the brace up through the hole and tighten it down until it bites into the rafters.

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Cleaning and tightening will probably do the trick, if not some blades have a bit of adjustment in them. Failing that...

One time I left the fan on in my parent's cabin for six months after I had a party there. When we got back it was still going but vibrating like it had a missing blade.

My dad, bless his heart, just rolled his eyes and told me to deal with it: he'd only get mad at me if I couldn't fix it. I tightened everything I could but it didn't help. Finally I tried taping a rock to the top of each blade in turn.

I tried each blade: the third of four seemed to cut down on the vibration a bit. So I started taping pennies to to that blade. At around 10 pennies the vibration was minimal. Couldn't get it better than that, but it was good enough that my dad said "Ok, don't be such an idiot next time" instead of walloping me.

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On some fans, the metal arms that hold the blades have some bend in them.

I've balanced fan blades by just bending them slightly up or down and doing a lot of trial and error. Just be careful not to break them.

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Besides cleaning and swapping fan blades, check to make sure it the down rod with the ball (if you have one) is properly seated in with the slot in the down rod ball with the tab in the bracket that goes to the fan box.

Your box is attached to a stud, right? Check to make sure your box did not come lose from the stud. This all will require you to take some or part of the fan down.

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