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Ceiling Fans, Fall, and Staying Cool

Warm weather seems to be safely behind us. Most of us have already turned off our air conditioners, possibly for the last time this year. While temperatures are cool enough outside to stay comfortable and even chilly at some points during the night, indoor temperatures are going to be warmer, especially during the day. This is where fans come into play. Of course, while the most popular – not to mention stylish – fans are ceiling fans they aren’t the only option. But in the cooler months of the year, ceiling fans are a better option than other portable fans.

How they work

A ceiling fan moves air. That’s it, in a single sentence I’ve described the entire job provided by ceiling fans. But that isn’t exactly how they work, just what they do. Ceiling fans don’t actually cool your room down. The temperature in the room stays the same while a fan is running. You feel cooler because moving air helps water evaporate from your skin. So sitting under a spinning fan cools you off.

At the same time, moving air helps to balance the overall temperature of the room, removing hot and cold spots. For example: a fan running in reverse during the winter forces warm air from the ceiling back into circulation, balancing the temperature to a warmer average throughout the room. Fans provide heating and cooling relief through ventilation, by regulating average temperature.

That’s why, even when you’re heating the room using a fireplace, have a ceiling fan to circulate air throughout the room will actually improve how warm you feel. Other techniques such as humidity control are also effective measures for making a room feel warmer or cooler by increasing or decreasing average humidity within a room.

Common Ceiling Fan Problems

This fall, while we’re enjoying the quiet of a home that isn’t under the buzz of an air conditioner or the dry-tasting air of furnace-fired heating, we’ll be trusting to fans to keep air moving and temperatures regulated. This means that your fans need to be cleaned and maintained for safety and efficient operation. Common fan problems and defects can lead to injury or a non-operational fan. Basic problems include:

  • Fan Wobbling
  • Fan Falling
  • Inadequate Clearance
  • Motor Burnout
  • Worn or Incorrect Fan Type

Wobbling fans are the most common issue seen with ceiling fans. The wobbling noise cause from an imbalance in the fan blades. Most of the time, this is only an annoyance but over time it can lead to more serious issues with the fan. The problem can stem from the mounting bracket, or individual blades. Check the ceiling fan mount first. Make sure that the mount is secured tightly to the ceiling and that the fan is secured to the mount itself. Next, check the individual blades, clean them of excess dust and check to see if the blades are warped or unfastened from the mounting arms. While wobbling doesn’t lead to a ceiling fan falling, it can lead to loosening of screws on blades and light covers. Tighten all screws to make sure these do not fall out.

Falling fans are extremely uncommon. Most often, a ceiling fan will fall due to water damaged ceilings, rotten wood, or improper mounting. If your home is in good repair, double check the mount on your fan to make sure its supported properly. Common issues stem from ceiling fans being mounted improperly to junction boxes. Special care must be taken if the ceiling fan is mounted to a junction box. Ask a licensed electrician for help when installing or replacing ceiling fans.

Inadequate clearance is more than just a matter of safety. While household ceiling fans are not strong enough to pose lethal injury (typically), they can cause serious injury if they hit a sensitive portion of the face. The blades on a ceiling fan should never be less than seven feet from the floor. Ideally, the blades on your fan will be 8-9 feet, from the floor and at least 18 inches away from walls. This helps to maximize airflow. The height of your fan can be adjusted using a down-rod or switching to a flush-mount ceiling fan.

Burnt out motors and worn ceiling fans should simply be replaced. The motor inside your fan is expensive and, once it has finally burnt out, it is far simpler to have an electrician replace the entire fan. The same is true for aged ceiling fans that have worn themselves out or fans that have rusted through. Always use the correct fan for the correct task. Never use a fan in a wet or damp environment if the fan is not rated for that area. This will improve the operating life of the fan.