Stop Ceiling Fan Noise – Common Causes and Sounds

Does this sound familiar? One day while watching your favorite TV show, you increase the volume like usual but you realize the reason you keep turning up the volume on the television is to mask the sound coming from the ceiling fan. The fan is shaking and wobbling and you can’t take it any more.

This can actually be a signal the fan blades are loose or believe it or not, dirty.

Fan noise that showed up suddenly or had slowly got louder or more apparent is a sign of something wrong. To diagnose common types of sounds and basic reasons for them, your in the right place.

Reasons For Noise

Testing without Blades attached.

Don’t test your ceiling fan without the blades attached. The fan will make a motor noise. Fans will make a noise without the blades due to the lack of weight and balance.

      • Solution: Attach the blades before testing.

Fan blades are loose.

Over time with regular use, vibrations and built up of dust will cause the screws to come loose to the blades. Dust will throw the fan out of balance and loosen screws by causing more drag on the blades.

      • Solution: Tighten the screws of each blade to the blade arm and also tighten the screws of the blade arm to the motor.
      • If your ceiling fan needs balancing, learn how here.

Wire connectors inside the housing is rattling.

When installing the ceiling fan, keep watch on the internal wires. Look for wire connectors that are rattling against each other or against the interior wall of the switch housing. Over time vibrations could cause the wires to move.

      • WARNING: Make sure main power is turned off!
      • Solution: Separate the connectors from each other and anything else inside the housing.

Loose screws in motor housing.

Rattling could also occur if there are loose screws in the motor housing. Vibrations when the fan is on can loosen things.

      • WARNING: Again, make sure main power is turned off to the fan!
      • Solution: Inspect all screws in the motor housing and snug them (But, do not over-tighten).

The fan is on a dimmer switch.

Standard dimmers are not designed to be used for ceiling fans or fluorescent light fixtures. A dimmer will reduce the wattage to the fan motor, causing a increasing in the impedance over time. Heat will then buildup in the motor.

      • CAUTION: Using a standard dimmer with a ceiling fan can damage the motor, and/or cause the dimmer and/or motor to overheat and cause a fire.
      • Solution: Install a 3 speed fan control switch. Don’t use a dimmer switch.

A fan mounted directly to ceiling joist can cause noise.

When fans are hung on a ceiling joist, noise from the fan can be amplified through the joist causing a humming noise. Then there is the noise from a loose fan that is attached to the junction box causing vibrations.

The fan is not mounted directly to a ceiling joist.

If the ceiling fan is not mounted to a joist then check for a loose capacitor, motor collar, canopy or mounting bracket. If the noise is an oscillating hum noise, then it is probably the capacitor.

      • Solutions: Tighten all screws for all parts including the capacitor, motor collar, canopy or hanging bracket. If the capacitor is the problem, run the fan in the forward direction on high speed for 8 to 10 hours. This can break in the capacitors and ensure that all the bearings are sealed well.

I have multiple fans on the same control/ same circuit.

Fans used in tandem with other fans on a wall controller tend to be more prone to noise. In older homes, it’s common for many rooms to be on the same branch circuits. This can cause a low voltage to be present which will cause a fan to make noise and run slowly.

      • Solution: Reduce the current load. There is several ways to do this, one way is to run a new line for only the ceiling fans.

Type Of Noise

My fan makes a humming noise.

      • REMINDER: DO NOT USE DIMMERS TO CONTROL FANS SPEEDS. Most dimmer wall controls are made to control lights and will cause your fan to hum.

If you are using a remote control, remove the receiver and connect the fan directly to power. If the noise goes away, you have a bad receiver.

Your fan could have bad capacitors – try changing the switch cup and/or capacitors.

The noise is a sizzling sound and an odor is present.

The drive capacitor is bad. Replace it.

The fan makes a grinding sound.

The ball bearings in motor are probably bad. Some fans have flywheels that attach the blades to the motor. If the flywheel is sagging or has broken, the blade irons may be scraping on the top of the switch cup housing.

The fan makes a clicking sound.

Tighten all screws in the fan.

The noise may be a loose mesh on the upper or lower housing that covers the vents.

Make sure the junction box is securely mounted to the ceiling.

Make sure nothing (wire nuts, wires, screws, etc.) is hitting the motor as it spins.

Tighten the blade to blade iron screws.

If you have high gloss blades on your fan, the glossy finish could have cracked.

Tighten the screws attaching the blades to the blade irons. If this doesn’t work, try using some felt washers to absorb the space left from the cracked paint.

The fan makes a creaking sound.

This noise will vary with speed and in most cases can be traced to the blades: try tightening or replacing the blades.

The fan makes an intermittent sound.

The noise is possibly due to loose screws on the fan. Check all screws. Check to ensure the mounting bracket is tightly mounted to the j-box.

The fan makes a rubbing sound.

The noise may be from the lower motor housing. Check for bent housing or shipping damage if it’s new. If it is an older fan, the flywheel (a circular piece that attached the blade irons to the motor) could be sagging or broken and the blade irons are rubbing against the housing as the fan turns.
Your fans blade irons could be sagging and the blade irons are scraping the top of the switch cap housing.

The fan runs slowly with a hum noise.

The voltage level that the fan is receiving may be low. This will cause motor to struggle. Voltage level below 105 volts A/C will cause noise.


For additional resources on troubleshooting go here. For Specific Problems:

Fan Remote Issues

Fan Light Burning Out

Wobbly Ceiling Fan

No Air Movement