The ceiling fan/light has power. The lights work, but the fan doesn't turn even though it hums.

Why is this, and how can I fix it?

  • either the motor is stalled or not turned on and you are hearing the bulbs hums Nov 17 '14 at 15:35
  • My guess is it's an old fan with a dead motor ..it's not a new fan/fresh install, is it?
    – elrobis
    Nov 17 '14 at 16:07
  • 1
    Try opening the cover and spinning the fan by hand (with it off, of course). Does it spin freely? I've never personally heard of this with bathroom fans, but there's also a chance with any electric motors there is a 'dead spot' and moving it out of the spot will let it run (until, of course, it stops in the dead spot again). May be the motor windings are wearing out, the brushes/commutator are dirty. Whether this is serviceable or not depends on the motor/fan and your skill, and of course has to be weighed against replacing.
    – gregmac
    Nov 17 '14 at 18:32
  • +1 I am coincidentally having the same issue, with a living-room ceiling fan that is only a few months old. The humming is definitely not the lights - the hum stops when we turn the fan off, with the lights on. Related: diy.stackexchange.com/questions/46276 Nov 17 '14 at 19:34
  • First step: Make sure that it is not on a dimmer switch that is turned down. I've seen that symptom when a fan is on a dimmer switch. Nov 17 '14 at 23:13

I just wanted to post what worked for me. There are some common issues that can easily be fixed if you hear a hum but it does not spin.

  1. The switch used to reverse the fan direction (not found on all fans, typically found on the side of the fan when present) is between the two settings. Move the switch to either of the two settings.

  2. The bearing has seized. If you open the fan up, take the motor apart, there is a bearing that spins the fan. Spray that with some WD40 and it will fix the issue (this fixed it for me).

  3. The fuse is gone. There will be a small fuse that needs replacing, this happens when the power gets too high for the fan.

  4. The wires have become loose. Check to make sure that the soldering is secure at the ends of the wires to where they connect to the coils.

  5. The motor is covered in dirt and dust. Take the motor apart and vacuum out all of the debris.

Hope this helps someone.


Electrolytic capacitor on those old ceiling fans do go bad. That'll cause the motor to run slow, just hum, or not run at all. With a bad capacitor, it'll often start if you give the blades a push. New capacitors are easy to find at your local big box or lighting stores, and also online.


I have just installed a new fan, and it was humming, but not spinning. Found it hard to believe that the motor or capacitor was already bad, so i went at it pretty thoroughly. What i found to be the culprit, was a single wire has pulled loose of the wiring harness that connect the fan to the switch housing (or in some cases , light kit). this is the white plastic square plug with many wires. I noticed one had pulled loose of the white cube. I pushed it back in (these wires have "plugs" crimped onto the ends) to the cube, and that completely solved my problem. Haven't seen this solution yet, so I hope it helps someone.

  • Yep basically the same thing here. The wiring harness connector was a little stiff and wasn’t quite in all the way. Reseating it worked. Thx for the tip!
    – jdixon04
    Sep 4 '21 at 22:50

I had the exact same issue after fitting my extractor. The humming sound when I switched it on. I discovered that it was due to the hole in the ceiling for the extraction being too tight this tightened in on the fan and prevented it from operating freely. I made the hole larger to ensure the fan was loosely fitting. It now operates perfectly.

I hope this helps.

  • Is this an exhaust fan or a ceiling fan?
    – Ed Beal
    Apr 27 '17 at 13:07

Mine was having the same issue. Lights worked, motor hummed, but the fan did not work. Gave it a spin and still nothing. Took it apart and saw that one of the coils was burnt. Tossed it and bought one of a different brand. Not messing around with hunter ceiling fans anymore. I wanna say it was just shy of a year old.

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