My fan has been working fine for ten years now and suddenly if I’m barefoot and touch the metal pull chain it lightly shocks me, but does not if I have shoes on.
Does this mean I need a new fan or is it some electrical issue in my ceiling?
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This sounds like a ground fault. They are particularly dangerous if you get wet, which is why Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters have been required for many years in kitchens and bathrooms, among other places.
If you have shoes on, you are insulated from the floor. Without shoes, a little bit of electricity makes its way from the fan through you to the floor. A little bit of electricity can be fatal if it passes through your heart, so this is a serious problem.
Why would a fan suddenly have this problem? Hard to say for sure, but anything with moving parts can have a small problem - e.g., a moving part of the motor rubbing on insulation - eventually become a big problem.
As much as we all like to have things last "forever", the reality is that many appliances, small and large, typically last in the range of 10 - 15 years. Sometimes, as with televisions and other electronics, they become obsolete. But with many other devices they simply wear out.
While the problem may be repairable, unless this is a high-end fan I don't think it is worth the effort and the risk of not quite fixing it correctly. This is particularly the case since fans are normally hardwired but not on GFCI, so there is no easy "early warning system" as there would be if you simply plugged it into a GFCI receptacle.
Anytime the body (chain in this case) in any appliance gives the user any sense of electrical current, mild or otherwise is absolute proof of 2 truths:
1] The body of the appliance is not grounded. It may have been or never was.. but it IS NOT at this time. (remember that green wire you didn't think you needed?)
2] There IS an electrical fault of some kind in the appliance. (in this case the switch)
The electrical fault IS present. If the appliance body were properly grounded, the circuit breaker whether a ground fault type or not would have tripped protecting the user from injury and alerting the appliance needs repair. Resetting the breaker in this case would not have been possible if the appliance were properly grounded.
Repair or replace the fan (10years old??? replace). Be sure the body is properly grounded.
You have suggested you will replace your fan. I understand that you can buy a new fan for under $50, but some cost over $300. While its a bit more work, I'm a fan of finding the problem before throwing money/parts at a solution. The problem could lie in the pull-chain switch, or in the wiring in the gang box above the ceiling fan. A full replacement may solve your problem, maybe not. I replaced a light fixture and the wiring was chafed where it entered the gang box in the ceiling. A new light didn't fix my problem. A little electrical tape goes a long way.
I think you will have to take the fan down to fully troubleshoot the problem. A good multimeter will help. Turn off the breaker for the circuit the fan is on. Hopefully the house is wired correctly, but that is not always the case, so still exercise caution (not touching black and white wires, assuming USA, at the same time until you've tested for AC current with your meter). Look for cracked, dry rotted, brittle or missing insulation on the wiring. Ceiling fans move, shake etc, and this can cause chafe in the wiring where the fan is mounted to the ceiling. If the wiring is damaged, but not too badly, wrap with 3-4 layers of electrical tape and reinstall the fan.
TESTING THE FAN:
EDIT: Disconnect the fan wiring first! - See comments for additional tips This is not a comprehensive guide, so if the troubleshooting steps don't yield results, don't assume there is no problem. There can always be more than one problem. Using a multimeter, check for continuity between your ground wire (green or bare copper) and the other wires (black, white, maybe red brown or blue, depends on the fan, and if it has lights or not). If there is continuity between ground and any of the wires, there is a short in the fan. This probably isn't the case, because unless the fan was not grounded properly to the house wiring, a persistent short would trip your breaker. There may be an intermittent grounding to the fan body caused by the fan's vibration which you can't simulate during a bench test.
If you do find a short, trace the shorted wire along its path toward the motor or light bulb, testing for a short at each possible connection (where you can put the meter probe on bare metal). You may find a damaged wire or connection that can be repaired. If the shorted wire is shorted at the motor, its best to just replace the fan. If it is shorted at a light or the pull chain switch, those can be replaced.
Lastly, and maybe this should be done sooner, try removing all light bulbs. Older light sockets are sometimes trouble spots, as are old bulbs. Sometimes, they are broken and you can't tell until you take them out.