man measuring to balance a ceiling fan
Photo: Don Penny/Time Inc. Digital Studios
Level the edges

Use a ruler or yardstick to measure the distance between each blade's leading edge and the ceiling
A ceiling fan with wobbling blades is not just a visual distraction. Those blades can also wear down the motor's bearings and bushings, and cause annoying squeaks and whines. If tightening the screws on the blade brackets and wiping dust off the blades don't solve the problem, follow these guidelines to get the fan back on an even keel:

Mark the blades. Place a numbered piece of masking tape on each blade so you don't loose track of which blade is which.

Level the edges. Use a ruler or yardstick to measure the distance between each blade's leading edge and the ceiling (a). Keep the ruler vertical and always measure from the same spot on the ceiling, manually moving the blades to measure each one. If an edge is out of whack, try to gently bend the blade's bracket up or down by hand. Now run the fan to see if the problem persists. For the best view, stand on a ladder away from the fan, at eye level with the blades. Use an object in the background (such as a doorway or window) as a reference point to see if the blades are all running at the same level.

Try a balancing kit. If the fan continues to wobble, buy a blade-balancing kit from your local home center or the fan's manufacturer. Take the clip provided and place it in the middle of the trailing edge of the blade you think is wobbling. As before, observe the running fan from a ladder to see just how the extra weight affects it (see Tip, right). Turn the fan off and slide the clip out toward the end or back toward the motor (b). Then turn the fan on and see if there's a change. Continue moving and testing the clip's position on this blade or others, if necessary, until the wobbling stops.

Add weights. Using a piece of tape, temporarily secure one of the kit's self-adhesive weights to the top of the blade's centerline, in line with the clip. Remove the clip and see how the fan runs. If it works as hoped, mark the blade around the weight, remove the tape, and stick the weight permanently to the blade (c). Do this on as many blades as necessary, until the fan runs smoothly.

TOH Tip: To identify which blade is behaving badly when the fan is spinning, dab each tip with a different-colored fluorescent paint. For easy removal, put the dab on a piece of masking tape.

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