Ceiling Fan Running Slowly? Speed It Up In 6 Steps

modern ceiling fan with brown blades

Is your ceiling fan running slowly? Adding some lubrication could do the trick. Here’s how you can speed it up in 6 steps.

Can you imagine a world without ceiling fans? A world where air circulation inside a room, and proper ventilation, was exclusive to AC units? Just the thought of it is unbearable.

You might think I’m exaggerating, but think about it, these machines make our lives easier every single day. And yes, they’re probably not as necessary as a stove or a tumble dryer, but there’s no denying that they can be extremely useful.

Be it due to their versatility or their ease of use, the reality is that, not owning a ceiling fan in this day and age does not only not make sense; it’s unheard of.

Okay, maybe now I’m exaggerating, but you get the point. Having a ceiling fan running slowly is just as bad as not having one at all. The blades are spinning, but the air generated is negligible.

What is going on?

There are several reasons why you might be experiencing this issue. If you’ve already tried giving your machine a pep talk to raise its spirits, chances are the problem lies with a balancing problem, or a lack of lubrication.

Below, you will find a list of the most common causes behind this occurrence and the simplest steps you can take to address them. I’m confident that, if you follow them religiously, you’ll have proper air circulation in no time.

Ready? Let’s dig in!

Fixing a Slow Ceiling Fan

While ceiling fans might seem like very simplistic appliances, you’d be surprised at how sensitive they are to even the slightest changes around them.

Something as apparently unimportant as forgetting to clean the bearing now and then could be making your unit slower. Before thinking about something being broken inside the fan itself, we must analyze every external factor that could be at play.

Your time and money are just as valuable to me, as they are to you, so I want to help you avoid wasting them.

Here are the 6 steps you can follow to speed up your ceiling fan:

  1. Lubricate the fan
  2. Balance the blades
  3. Replace the capacitor
  4. Use lighter blades
  5. Tighten some screws
  6. Clean the bearing

#1 Lubricate the Fan

Putting Grease On Motor Fan
Lubrication is part of maintaining the ceiling fan’s motor

If you’ve ever had a squeaky door or a knob that was too hard to turn in your home, you know how important adequate lubrication is. It might not be so for static appliances, but when it comes to machines with several moving parts like a ceiling fan, you just can’t neglect this area of maintenance.

A ceiling fan that is running very slowly could be trying to tell you that it’s time to put some oil on the bearing. Doing this regularly could not only solve your current problem but also extend your appliance’s lifespan significantly.

It’s always a good idea to keep motor oil handy at home.

Solution: Try to be a little more conscious about how you operate your appliance and make sure to give it adequate maintenance at least four times a year.

#2 Balance the Blades

I bet that before this started happening to you, you had never considered how the balance on your blades could impact your ceiling fan’s functionality, right?

Well, now that you’re here, let me tell you that it’s not only important but essential.

When your ceiling fan’s blades are properly balanced, they can spin around the machine’s own axis without any trouble, but when there is even the slightest imbalance, you could experience motor failure, overheating, short-circuiting, and of course, slow blade speeds.

Who would have thought that something so apparently unimportant could have such a great impact on your unit?

Solution: Look for any kind of imbalance.

Provided that you find even the slightest degree of it, you can correct it by tightening some screws at the base, trimming your blades, or even adding some special weights.

You can easily find the latter at any online marketplace for a low price.

#3 Replace the Capacitor

broken capacitors
A faulty capacitor can cause your fan to spin slowly or stop spinning

No capacitor, no spinning motion. It’s that simple.

I’d go as far as to say that this is the lifeblood of your appliance. Without it, your ceiling fan is just some odd, static decoration that could pass off as a weird chandelier…maybe.

This little component is what powers your motor, and allows for the fast revolutions which generate the air currents you love.

It goes without saying that, being such an important part of your ceiling fan, any malfunction in it can be catastrophic, and tricky to diagnose.

Let me tell you why.

Depending on the severity of the damage to this component, your ceiling fan might not even spin at all, but if it’s only partial, it could be functioning at very low speeds.

It’s of the utmost importance that as soon as you suspect this to be the culprit, you stop using your appliance immediately. Failing to do so can result in short-circuiting, and permanent damage to it.

Solution: You’ll have to replace the part. To do so, please follow these steps:

  1. Carefully turn off your breakers to interrupt all electrical current to the ceiling fan
  1. Remove the light bulbs, and their housings
  1. Undo the screws in the motor holding the outer metal panel
  1. Expose your appliance’s capacitor, and all its other internal components
  1. Test the capacitor for continuity with a multimeter, if you have one
  1. Replace if necessary

The complete process is a little more complex, but this gives you a general idea. If you’re a visual person like me and want a detailed walkthrough you can follow along step by step, there are tons of online videos you can check out.

#4 Use Lighter Blades

Believe it or not, the weight of your blades could be playing an important role in determining your ceiling fan’s spinning speed.

While your manufacturer should have installed the right-sized blades for your appliance’s adequate functioning, there’s always room for human error.

Using blades that are too heavy for your motor would not only explain your current situation, but also put your machine at risk of overheating, short-circuiting, and general malfunction.

Solution: Read your user manual again carefully. More often than not, you’ll be able to find in there the right dimensions for the blades you should be using.

Once you know them, you can carefully remove one of your ceiling fan’s blades, and proceed to measure and weigh them. Should they be the incorrect size, you’ll have to replace them.

#5 Tighten the Screws

This might surprise you, but there could be nothing wrong with your ceiling fan. Nothing technical, at least.

Your appliance is in constant motion, sometimes for hours at a time, so having some screws loosen now and then should be expected. If your ceiling fan is running slowly, chances are one, or more of these might need to be tightened again.

I know this might sound like something unimportant, but please do not put this off for too long.

Loose screws could cause your blades to spin erratically, thus compromising your machine’s adequate functioning, and putting it at risk of sustaining permanent damage.

Solution: Fixing this should be fairly simple, just grab a screwdriver you find comfortable, and look for any screws on your ceiling fan’s body that might need the old “righty-tighty”.

#6 Clean the Bearing

Last, but definitely not least, you must always remember to clean your bearing.

They might not seem overly complicated, but ceiling fans rely greatly on physics. The high-speed spinning that provides you with the nice air current you love, exerts a constant centrifugal force on your machine’s axis and bearing.

If the latter is not properly cleaned and lubricated, your ceiling fan could start running slowly, overheat, and even catch on fire.

If none of the solutions above have worked out for you, and you suspect this to be the issue, please stop using your unit immediately, clean the bearing, and oil it generously. 

Solution: Ideally you want to clean your ceiling fan’s bearing every month, but if that’s not possible, at least do it every trimester.


A ceiling fan that runs slowly is like a Ferrari without petrol. It sure looks beautiful, but, for all purposes, it is useless.

I know how frustrating this can be, but, luckily, as I hope you’ve learned on this piece, fixing most of the problems related to this occurrence is quite simple, and shouldn’t take a very long time.

More often than not, everything can be resolved by making sure to give your appliance proper maintenance regularly, and using the right-sized blades.

Trust in yourself and in your DIY skills, I’m sure you can do anything you set your mind to.

Enjoy the nice, lovely current!

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more