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Ceiling Fan Wobbling: How To Fix

A wobbling ceiling fan is impossible to ignore, but fixing it doesn’t have to be a daunting task. There are several common reasons why even new ceiling fans can develop an occasional wobble. Let’s go through the possible causes and how to fix the problem. 

A wobbling ceiling fan is most often caused by imbalanced blades. Loose screws, mechanical issues, an incorrect junction box, or rotting roof joists could also be causes. Once a ceiling fan starts to wobble, it must be fixed promptly to avoid deterioration of the situation. 

A wobbling ceiling fan can be a safety hazard; the longer it spins off-kilter, the worse the situation will get. Follow our easy-to-follow guide to find out why your ceiling fan is wobbling and how to get it back into tip-top condition quickly. 

Why Is My Ceiling Fan Wobbling?

About 80 million American homes have at least one ceiling fan, and while no two households are the same, ceiling fan wobble is a pretty common condition. In order to fix the problem, it is essential first to diagnose the cause.

Before doing any work on your ceiling fan, the first important step is to turn off the power to the area at the electrical breaker box. Do not simply switch off the fan at the wall in case you get it wrong or someone enters the room and flicks the on-switch while you’re on the ladder.

There are five common reasons why a normally quietly whirring overhead fan may start wobbling. Let’s go through them, starting with the most likely cause. 

1) Unbalanced Fan Blades

Unbalanced, broken, loose, or warped fan blades are by far the most common cause of ceiling fan wobble. Even new fans are often affected by any minor imbalances or strains in the mechanism, and the problem continues to escalate until it is fixed.

Ceiling fans are simple appliances that depend on perfect balance to run perfectly smoothly. A dip or inconsistency in any of the paddles can make the entire appliance wobble. Ceiling fan blades can appear perfect from below, but even an accumulation of dust can result in uneven movement. 

Always start any ceiling fan repairs by thoroughly inspecting the blades. This includes: 

  • Gently wipe the top of each blade with a microfiber cloth
  • Next, check for broken or damaged blades. In humid areas, fan blades can warp, which will affect the fan’s movement. Also, check for any minor breaks or cracks. Unfortunately, damaged blades need to be replaced. 
  • Next, measure the level of each blade. You will need a long ruler or a measuring stick. Hold one end of your measuring device against the ceiling. Then gently rotate the fan blades and check that each paddle touches your measure at the same level. Do this on both sides of each paddle since a difference in blade angle can also cause wobbly movement. 

Balancing uneven ceiling fan blades isn’t difficult. Before you begin, check that all the screws holding the blades in place are tight. It won’t be any use to balance the fan’s blades if they aren’t securely mounted. 

You will need a fan blade balancing kit like this one. Kits are standard, inexpensive, and available at most DIY equipment stores. Each balancing kit includes detailed instructions on how to balance your ceiling fan blades perfectly. 

2) Mechanical Issues Can Cause Ceiling Fan Wobble

While any major electrical work should always be left to a professional, ceiling fans can develop jerky or wobbly movement due to dust in the motor. Some older models may even require regular lubrication. Let’s go through each of these issues in more detail, as well as what you should do to fix each problem:

  • Dirt inside the motor

Gently unscrew the fan motor housing, and check the inside for dust. You can blow compressed air through the mechanism to clear the dust that might have collected inside. 

  • The fan may need oil

Most modern ceiling fans have self-lubricating systems and do not need to be oiled. Older models may need regular top-ups. If you are unsure if your ceiling fan requires oil, it is best to note the model number and check with the manufacturer. 

Ceiling fans that need oil usually have a small hole on the upper side of the motor. If your fan needs to be topped up occasionally, be sure only to use the oil recommended by the manufacturer, as the incorrect type may gum up the mechanism.

  • The ball joint socket may not be seated correctly

Check that the ball socket that holds the fan’s down rod is aligned and securely fitted to the fan’s support bracket. If this part of the fan isn’t properly engaged, it will be impossible to cure the wobble. If the pin holding the mechanism in place is bent or damaged, it should be replaced. 

  • Wear and tear

Like all appliances, ceiling fan motors do wear out eventually. If your ceiling fan has developed an uncharacteristic jerky movement or wobble originating in the motor, it may have reached the end of its lifespan, and the motor may need to be replaced. 

If you have an antique ceiling fan or love the one you have, you don’t need to invest in a whole new model when the motor gives out. However, ceiling fan motors are expensive, and replacing the entire appliance is sometimes more cost-effective. 

3) Loose Screws

Ceiling fans rely on a network of screws to defy gravity and stay mounted safely overhead. Any imbalance or ceiling fan wobble will cause strain on other parts of the mechanism, and screws higher up on the appliance often work themselves loose as a result of the irregular movement. 

If your ceiling fan blades were unbalanced, you should check all the other screws on the unit. The screws that attach the paddles to the flywheel should be tight. If any are loose, tighten them with a screwdriver. 

Then turn your attention to screws higher up in the mechanism. Gently test all screws to ensure they are tight and haven’t worked their way loose. Remember that the outer part of your fan that you can see extends above the ceiling and onto a junction box above. 

There are several ways a fan can be fitted to the junction box, and they all rely on screws to hold the unit securely in place. Tighten up all screws, and if any turn continuously, it means that they are stripped and need to be replaced. 

4) Incorrect Size Junction Box

This is a common problem when new ceiling fans are installed to replace older models or put up to replace light fittings. The external room-facing part of the fan is fitted onto a junction box that holds the wiring and secures the appliance to something solid like a roof joist or beam. 

The electrical box size must be suitable for the specific type of appliance and the weight attached. Putting a heavy, moving ceiling fan onto a junction box that was intended for a light fitting will almost certainly result in ceiling fan wobble. 

There are specific regulations regarding the size of the electrical box required to hold ceiling fans. Ceiling fans that weigh less than 35lbs can be fitted directly onto an appropriately sized junction box. If it is heavier, it needs a specifically designed junction box that usually includes some other form of support. 

Fitting a heavy ceiling fan onto the incorrect size junction box will not only be unstable and wobble, but it may also be dangerous. If you suspect that your fan is attached to an incorrectly sized junction box, it is better to call in the services of an electrician. 

5) Rotten Wood Ceiling Joists

A ceiling fan can only be as stable as whatever it is attached to. If your ceiling fan is balanced and you have ruled out all possible blade balance issues or loose screws, the problem may not be the ceiling fan at all. 

In older homes, ceiling fans are often attached to thick wooden beams covered with ceiling boards. A wobbling ceiling fan may result when the unit is no longer adequately attached to its overhead joist, or the solid support itself is degrading. 

There are three things you need to check when you take a trip into the attic to check the wooden joists:

  • Check for termite activity in the beams.
  • Possible rot in the beams caused by moisture.
  • Incorrect size screws were used in existing holes in the wood.

If your ceiling fan junction box is attached to a single joist, replacing the setup with a ceiling fan brace is a good idea. This nifty extendable device will spread the weight across two beams and give the appliance more stability. 


The quiet purring of a perfectly balanced ceiling fan can add a relaxing ambiance to a room. A wobble ceiling fan will become the center of attention for all the wrong reasons. Fixing a wobbling ceiling fan is a process of establishing the cause of the wonky movement and then making the necessary adjustments to restore the mechanism to tip-top condition.