Many of us in the summer
hot zones seek to augment or reduce the load on our air conditioners with
ceiling fans. Gil Schauer asks, “When is the last time you cleaned your ceiling
fan? Like any other home appliance, regularly cleaning a ceiling fan is
important to ensure optimal performance. Light maintenance such as replacing
blades and keeping the ceiling fan from shaking, wobbling, or squeaking is
necessary to keep the fan running smoothly. Cleaning fans properly also helps
Cleaning a Ceiling Fan’s Blades
There are several different ways to properly clean a ceiling fan’s blades:
- Vacuuming the blades may be a quick way to deal with light dust that has accumulated on the blades. Use your vacuum’s brush attachment to carefully vacuum the top and bottom of each blade. If the blades have a thick layer of dust, follow up with a damp microfiber cloth and wipe the top and bottom of each blade. Place equal pressure on a damp cloth, folding the cloth over the blade from the center top and bottom. Slowly pull the cloth outward. Do not twist, lift, or pull down on the blades. Be gentle!
- Rinse the cloth to ensure you are not just transferring dust from one blade to another. Using a feather duster or other type of dry duster after the blades have been dried can also be helpful. Whatever you do, be sure to use these techniques for cleaning a ceiling fan gently so you do not bend the blades, and never use an ammonia or bleach-based cleaner or any harsh cleaner on the blades. The finish can be damaged and warping may occur.
- You can go a step further and remove the blades from the ceiling fan for a more thorough cleaning. This will also be helpful if you have to replace a bent or broken blade. You will need to locate the screws on the unit and, while holding it in place, unscrew the blade from the fan base. Carefully set the blade on a clean surface, taking into consideration which side is the top of the blade. Use the tips provided above for properly cleaning a ceiling fan’s blades and then replace the blades.
These techniques can also be used to remove dust and debris from the base of the ceiling fan as well as the light fixtures.
Mechanical Maintenance of Ceiling Fans
We all know how annoying a noisy ceiling fan can be. Noisy fans are often caused by loose fittings such as screws on light fixtures or blades, and can be easily remedied by tightening the fixtures with a screwdriver. Noise can also come from inexpensive fans made with inferior metals which can cause a fan to warp and wear out with extended use. Premium ceiling fans are designed to run for many years, but if you do experience noise or shaking from your fan, tighten everything—all connections to the ceiling, the pole connected to the fan (set screws), blade holders connected to the motor, and blade screws connected to the blade holders.
The accumulation of dust is a common concern for ceiling fans because it can create shaking or cause the motor to run too hot. One way to limit the dust is to periodically blow out any visible parts of the motor with a can of compressed air.
Ceiling fans are not designed to be run on light dimmer switches, which can cause motor noise and limit the life of the fan. If you have already completed the installation, you can replace the dimmer switch with an on/off switch and use the pull chain to regulate the fan’s speeds. You can also purchase a quality motor speed selector switch which you can obtain from reputable ceiling fan stores.