One of the most common issues people have with their ceiling fan is that it only works at certain speeds.
In some cases, it may not activate until you select a certain speed setting. In other cases, your ceiling fan may be working faster or slower than you expected it to work. There are several reasons why a ceiling fan may not be working at all speeds.
It will likely be down to a faulty component, e.g. a pull switch mechanism or blown capacitor. These issues can easily be dealt with. It is exceedingly rare that the ceiling fan is completely broken. Although, if these issues are starting to pile up, it may be worth replacing the ceiling fan entirely.
In this article, we will help you get to the bottom of why your ceiling fan is not working at all speeds.
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Why Does My Ceiling Fan Not Work On All Speeds?
Interestingly, whether your ceiling fan only works on high or your ceiling fan only works on low speed, the reasons tend to be the same. So, rather than breaking everything down into two distinct problems, we will consider them as one.
If your ceiling fan isn’t going the speed you want, you will find the answers in this section.
Before we dive into the various issues, we do want to point out that while you may be able to deal with many of these issues yourself, it isn’t really recommended. Some of the issues (especially changing capacitors) can be quite dangerous if you aren’t quite sure what you are doing.
It may be worth calling in a fan repair expert to help.
If you are working on the ceiling fan yourself, then make sure the mains power is switched off at the breaker.
Broken Pull Chain or Chain Switch Assembly
In some cases, a fan not working at certain speeds results from a broken chain or switch assembly.
If you have a ceiling fan that uses a pull chain, you may notice that it isn’t ‘clicking’ in the same way it used to. In other cases, it may be harder to pull, or it may not move at all. All of these are signs that you have a broken pull chain.
Opening the system up and ‘freeing’ the pull chain may work. However, in most cases, you will need to replace it completely.
While you are inside the fan, you may want to look at the chain switch assembly (this is the switch that the chain activates). If the wires or assembly are damaged, then this could be the source of your ceiling fan speed woes.
The Fan Has Overheated
Yes, ceiling fans can overheat. If your fan is on the older side, then it will be prone to overheating.
If the speed has dropped during use, then the chances are that the fan motor has overheated. Turn the fan off for 30-60 minutes. This will allow it to cool down. When you switch everything back on again, the speed should be back to normal.
If your ceiling fan is constantly overheating, then you may want to replace the ceiling fan as it can become a fire hazard.
Broken Control Box
In the center of the fan, there will be a control box. This is where all of the tech that controls your fan will be. If you look at the control box and spot that something is cracked or there are frayed wires, this likely could be the issue.
In some cases, you will be able to replace a broken control box. However, since it is at the ‘heart’ of your fan, it will likely be the most expensive thing to replace. At this point, many people will consider completely replacing their fan.
Broken Fan Blades
If you have noticed that the speed on your fan has plummeted, then this could be down to broken fan blades. Broken fan blades could cause increased drag as the fan is spinning around. Increased drag means slower movement speeds.
It doesn’t even need to be major damage. A small crack or a bend in the fan blades could cause serious issues. Thankfully, unless you have an exceedingly old ceiling fan, it shouldn’t be too tricky to get hold of replacement fan blades.
As with the broken fan blades, loose screws can cause the blades to become unbalanced which could cause your ceiling fan to wobble, creating a small amount of drag. This means that you may notice a fall in the speed at which the fan is spinning around.
If the fall is sudden, then switch everything off. Tighten up any obvious screws, particularly those attached to the fan blades. This may fix the problem.
Broken Speed Control
Some ceiling fans will have a speed control on the motor. This is a switch that you can turn to change the speed settings on the fan.
Over time, this speed control system can break. Any control knob may not move up to the highest or lowest settings. You can fiddle about with the speed control knob to see if this is the case.
If you cannot fully move the speed control knob, you will need to replace the whole assembly.
Poor Lubrication on Ball Bearings
Inside the motor will be a ring filled with ball bearings. These ball bearings are important for the movement of the fan.
Every so often, you will want to lubricate the ball bearings with some grease. If you don’t, then the fan will move at a slower speed. Read more about oiling a ceiling fan.
The ball bearings (or the ball bearing holder) can get damaged in some cases. If this happens, then you will need to replace that component.
This is where things can become a little dangerous, and we wouldn’t recommend that you deal with the capacitors yourself. If they are handled incorrectly, they could seriously injure you.
Inside your fan, there will be a capacitor. Without going into too much depth on how electrics work, all you really need to know is that the capacitor will play a major role in modulating the speed of your fan.
If you look at the capacitor and it is bulging, it looks like it has leaked, or it is a brown color, you will need to replace it.
In most cases, replacing damaged capacitors will solve speed issues in a fan. It tends to be one of the cheapest components to replace too.
If your ceiling fan isn’t working at all speeds (or it is too fast or too slow), then there is likely an issue with a component in your fan.
While most problems can be fixed with ease, we recommend that you get in touch with a fan repair expert. They will be able to get to the root of the problem and get your fan up and running quickly. You may also be interested in reading our article on how to increase ceiling fan speed.