Ceiling Fan Making Noise: How to Quiet Clicking, Ticking, Grinding or Rattling

Sometimes you find yourself searching near and far on how to soundproof a house only to find that devices within the home are the cause of some disturbances.

One such device that can be a real pain is your ceiling fan.

While there are many ways to cool down a room in your home like using a quiet fan or the best quiet window fan, ceiling fans seem to be a popular choice.

They are the most efficient and eco-friendly devices to keep cool in the summertime just like the best quiet space heater in the wintertime.

Although they won’t keep you as cool as turning on your AC, they distribute air evenly around a room to create a cool and soothing environment.

So it is safe to say that ceiling fans are worth looking into when searching for ways to cool down your home.

However, over time you may notice your ceiling fan making noise. A noisy ceiling fan can be one of the most annoying things in your room, though non-quite humidifiers aren’t great either.

It can get quite annoying listening to the constant clicking, grinding, rattling, or ticking noises.

If you are looking for ways to fix these noises and how to soundproof a room, then keep on reading!

What is a ceiling fan?

A ceiling fan as the name suggests is a fan that is installed on the ceiling.

They are usually powered by electricity and consist of rotating blades that circulate air.

To better understand a ceiling fan and the way it works, let us take a look at the anatomy of a ceiling fan.

One of the most outstanding parts of a ceiling fan is, of course, the rotating blades.

These blades are connected to either an arm or bracket and held in place by a few small screws.

Next, you can find the motor, this is what powers the blades.

The motor is usually above the blades and covered in some sort of housing.

Beyond that, you will see what is called a down rod.

A down rod is a cylindrical metal pipe that suspends the fan from the ceiling.

The last part is what is known as the canopy.

A canopy can either be plain or decorative and is used to conceal and protect various components such as wires, mounting brackets, and others.

So there you have it, the basic parts of a ceiling fan.

It is a complex machine to install but is easy to fix once you understand the parts and how they function.

Common causes of ceiling fan noise

Before trying to fix any problems with your ceiling fan, let us first take a look at the common causes of ceiling fan noise.

Dimmers

Humming noises are the most common type of noise that ceiling fan users experience.

While you may not hear humming noises during the day, at night, they can become quite noticeable and disturb your rest and quiet time.

Now you may be wondering what causes that humming sound.

The humming sound is caused by the dimmer controls.

Dimmer controls are used to control the speed at which the fan works.

The reason dimmer controls hum is because they weren’t meant to be used on ceiling fans.

Ceiling fans should instead have standard speed controls.

Remote

If you are using a remote to control your ceiling fan, that may be the reason for any humming you hear.

The remote control may not be able to transit a good strong signal to receivers in the fan which can lead to humming.

Removing the receiver will fix your humming issue.

Instead, plug your ceiling fan directly into a power source.

Capacitors

If you still hear the humming sound after removing the receiver, the problem may very well be due to bad capacitors.

To fix this issue, you will have to replace the capacitors.

Usually, capacitors go bad when there is a problem with low voltage levels.

Low voltage levels can cause your ceiling fan motor to struggle.

Voltage below 105v may be responsible for some noises you hear coming from your fan.

Additionally, if you have more than one fan on the same circuit, noise is possible especially if your home is a bit older

Loose Screws

A ceiling fan making rattling noise can be attributed to loose screws.

Tightening any loose screw should fix this problem.

Rattling sounds coming from your fan should be a cause for concern.

Since ceiling fans are mounted on ceilings, they are above you.

If the blades are loose they can go flying across the room damaging it or on a more serious note, injure someone.

Another cause for rattling sounds is when wire connectors move against each other or the interior of the switch housing.

Turn the power off to the ceiling fan before you attempt to tighten screws or check inside the switch housing.

Mount

Last but not least on our list is where you mount your ceiling fan.

If you check out our post on how to soundproof an apartment, you will see we talk about soundproofing a ceiling and how doing can quiet down noises.

If you install your ceiling fan on a ceiling joist, chances are normal sounds from your fan will become amplified.

To eliminate this issue, use an approved ceiling fan hanger and install it between ceiling joists.

Doing so will isolate any noise coming from the ceiling fan and not travel easily to the ceiling joist to amplify sound. 

If you are not sure where your ceiling joist is located, have a read here and it should help.

dimmer switches can cause ceiling fan noise

Fix a ceiling fan making noise: DIY or call in a pro?

Now we know the common causes of ceiling fan noise and that leaves us asking these next questions.

Should I DIY it or should I call in the pros?

To answer that question, you need to think about these few things.

First off, some ceilings are fairly high so you will need a step stool or ladder to access the ceiling fan.

I know most times you climb on the countertop or bed to change a light bulb but note that ceiling fans are different.

Ceiling fans are usually heavy and if you are taking it apart, you need to be stable on your feet.

You do not want to have an accident and hurt yourself.

Most times some simple DIY fixes will eliminate noises coming from your ceiling fan.

On the other hand, if you hear a sizzling sound then experience a terrible smell from the ceiling fan, it may be because your capacitor has gone bad.

In this instance, it is best to replace the capacitor immediately.

If you are not sure how to do this, you should call in an HVAC professional.

Moreover, if you see sparks followed by strange noises coming from your fan, immediately cut the power to the fan.

Likewise, if the fan motor is struggling and the fan is left on, it can start a fire.

That is because most of the wiring to the ceiling fan is in the ceiling.

If those wires spark and start a fire in the ceiling, it can go undetected for several minutes.

In those several minutes, the danger to your home and family members increases tenfold.

For these types of issues with your ceiling fan, it is better to call in the pros to have a look and fix it.

ceiling fan making rattling noise due to loose components

How to fix ceiling fan clicking, grinding, rattling, and ticking noise

If you are tired of all the annoying noises coming from your ceiling fan, we’ve got some tips and tricks to ease your troubles.

Sometimes it is as easy as doing regular maintenance and regular cleaning to eliminate any noise.

That being said, sometimes it may require a bit more than that and you may need to call in someone who specializes in dealing with ceiling fans.

Let us dive right in.

Cut power to the ceiling fan

First and foremost, ensure you cut all power to the ceiling fan.

Failure to do so can result in serious harm to you and anyone else in the room.

Not only can spinning blades hurt you but the electricity as well.

Wait until the fan stops spinning on its own.

Trying to stop the blade by grabbing it and forcing it to stop is going to cause more harm than good.

Cleaning the fan blades

If you see no wobbling or any loose parts on your ceiling fan, then all it may need is a cleaning.

Have a peek at the top of the fan blades.

Most times you will see that on the top of the blades and the upper area of the fan is covered in dust.

Removing this build-up of dust is going to help and get things running smoothly not to mention quietly again.

If your fan came with a manual, check to see the cleaning tips they mention there.

If not you can use a soft microfiber towel to remove the accumulation of dust and build up.

Use a ladder so you can reach the blades easily and be careful to not press too hard when wiping the blades.

Putting too much pressure on the blades can misbalance them and cause another noise problem.

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After cleaning, you can toss the microfiber towel into the washer and have it ready again to tackle its next big job.

After wiping down the blades and removing the dust, it is best to use an all-purpose cleaner to remove any stuck-on dirt or dust.

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Simply spray onto your fan blades, let it sit for a little bit, and gently wipe away.

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Grinding Noises

A ceiling fan making grinding noise may be due to a problem with the motor.

Unlike a loose or dirty fan blade, motors are a bit trickier to fix, and sometimes it may not even be worth it to replace.

However,  grinding can be caused by a loose bearing in the motor.

Over time these can become dry and have a hard time rotating smoothly.

This can result in the squeaking sound you hear.

Dry bearings are fairly common and oiling them most times fixes the issues.

That being said, not all ceiling fans bearings can be oiled like those that have sealed bearings.

Again, it’s best to revert to the user manual if you still have it. To see whether or not your model can be oiled.

If not, a quick check online for your ceiling fan name and model should give you some information.

Some fans have a hole for oiling while others have to be taken apart to do so.

If you have to take it apart, be very careful.

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Clicking Sounds 

If you hear your ceiling fan clicking or rattling, it may be due to something coming loose.

This can be screws or blade brackets or components within the canopy.

Loosen parts moving at a fast rate can be a hazard to you and others.

If the trouble is loose screws, make sure to take a screwdriver and tighten up those.

Unsteady blades wiggle from side to side which creates that clicking sound you hate and can also cause the blades to fall off and injure someone.

It is best to check the screws on the entire unit every 6 months or so just to be safe.

Ticking noise

The reason for a ceiling fan ticking noise can be caused by a warped or bent blade.

If you cleaned the blades, oiled it and tightened up the screws, and still experienced a ticking sound then time to rebalance the blades.

To check if any blade is bent, use a measuring stick to measure the distance between the fan blade tip and the ceiling.

Measure them one by one and record the measurements to see if they are all the same.

If you find that one does not match the measurement of the others, that means it is bent.

Alternatively, you can use a balancing clip which is handy when testing ceiling fan blades.

Place it between the base and the tip of the fan blade.

Turn on your fan and listen for the ticking sound.

Do this for every blade and if you hear the ticking sound then that blade is warped.

The balancing clip comes in a kit with a few balancing weights.

On the warped blade, peel back the adhesive on a balancing weight and place it on the top of the blade.

Make certain you place directly across the from the balancing clip.

Once you place the balancing weight properly, remove the balancing clip, and boom, the ticking stops.

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