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Hey, you're in the home improvement zone--YOUR HANDYMAN ZONE!

Cooling and Ventilation Systems Category Ceiling Fans


Ceiling fan does not work at all.

Tools / Materials (See Below for Applicability):

  • Screwdriver (or other fastening device as determined by the manufacturer's use of fasteners)

  • Replacement motor (manufactured or otherwise found compatible by fan manufacturer)

  • Voltage meter

  • Circuit breaker fuse replacement


Your fan may not work at all.  Before resorting to replacing the fan or the fan's motor, there may be other causes of the fan's total failure to operate.

If you find that the ceiling fan does not work at all, do the following:

  1. Before considering to work on the fan itself, be sure that the fan is actually receiving


    electrical power from a working circuit breaker.  Check that your circuit breaker is turned to "on," and if need be, replace any burned out circuit breaker fuse. (See the electrical section.) (Having to disassemble the fan to figure out why it has failed, only to find that the cause of the failure was because it was not receiving electrical power in the first place would be a complete waste of your time.)  If the fan is receiving power and yet is not operating, its cause is something else, requiring you to work on the fan, as found below.

Caution: When dealing with any device that requires electrical power, make sure you take precautions before you work on it, including disconnecting the power.

  1. Unscrew the exterior screws to the exterior cover of the fan and then remove the exterior cover to gain access to the fan motor.

  2. As a precaution, use a voltage meter to make sure that the wires connected to the fan are not live (have no power running through them).  (You should have disconnected the power to the fan from the circuit breaker long ago, if you haven't done so already.)

  3. Then look for a limit switch on the fan motor. If you find that the switch has tripped, simply reset the switch to the operating position.  This seems to have been your problem, and to confirm, re-connect the power to the fan, and it should be working.  If you find that the fan is still not working, your motor is bad and needs to be replaced short of replacing your whole fan, and should you want to replace the motor, read on.

  4. Disconnect the power to the fan again (and if you put the exterior cover back onto the fan, take it off by unscrewing its exterior screws).

  5. Take a look at the fan motor (and if you desire, note on a sheet of paper where and how the wires are connected to this motor) before you disconnect it from the rest of the motor.

  6. Disconnect the motor.

  7. Take the motor to a home improvement or appliance specialty store to obtain an exact replacement motor.

  8. Install the replacement motor, following any manufacturer's guidelines, and making sure the wires to the new motor are correctly attached, as were the wires originally attached to the old motor.

  9. Reconnect the power and turn on the fan, and it should work.

Ed the Handyman


Your Handyman Zone Team


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