How to Balance a Ceiling Fan

Paul Pogue
Written by Paul Pogue
Updated November 22, 2021
Ceiling fan in bedroom with gray paisley accent wall, gray bedding, and window seat with fur throw and pillows
Photo by Sidekix Media on Unsplash

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If you have a wobbly fan, the instability can be a safety hazard—not to mention irritating to hear and see. That’s why it’s important to learn how to balance a ceiling fan and stop the shaking. It may take some trial and error to figure out exactly why your fan is wobbling (dust? a bad mounting setup?), but it’s something you should be able to fix yourself if you follow these steps. 

Difficulty: Intermediate (3/5) 

While this project isn’t particularly difficult, you may need to check the mounting setup to find the cause of the instability of the fan, which requires a little more skill.  

Total Project Time: 2 hours or less

Cost: About $30 


  • Ladder

  • Screwdriver 

  • Pliers

  • Yardstick


  • Cleaning supplies: duster, cloth or microfiber towel, and mild cleaning solution

  • Painter’s tape

  • Ceiling fan balancing kit or pennies and superglue

How to Balance a Ceiling Fan Step by Step

Man repairing ceiling fan
New Africa –

There can be different reasons for a shaky fan—here’s how to diagnose your particular problem and get your fixture running smoothly again. 

1. Clean the Blades

Start by shutting off the fan and cleaning the ceiling fan blades. Sometimes dust and debris build-up can weigh down the blades, causing the fan to wobble or shake. 

First, grab your ladder and dust the blades off with a duster. If the dust has hardened, use a damp cloth or microfiber towel with a mild cleaning solution to wipe down both sides of the blade. Allow the blades to fully dry, then turn the fan back on to see if that fixes the problem. 

2. Check the Mounting Setup

If cleaning the fan fails to balance it, check the mounting setup to ensure it was installed correctly to avoid a potential safety hazard. A ceiling fan should be mounted to an electrical box specifically rated for fans, as a regular light-fixture box can’t support the weight. Fan-rated boxes are oftentimes labeled and mounted to a 2x4 or a specific metal fan brace. 

You may need to assess this from your attic or by loosening the housing and looking from below (with the circuit breaker turned off). Check for a label indicating the box is rated for a ceiling fan, and look for hex bolts attached to the wooden or metal brace. 

If the brace is wobbly, try tightening the bolts to the bracket. If you discover that the fan has been installed incorrectly, it’s best to check with a local electrician or handyperson to ensure the fixture is up to code and safe. Our guide on How to Install a Ceiling Fan can also help you determine if your setup is correct.

3. Check the Alignment

Another cause for an unstable fan is misalignment of the blade arms. Over time, they can sag from normal wear and tear. Humidity can also cause sagging. 

Attach a small piece of painter’s tape to each blade arm, and number it so you don’t lose track of what you’ve already checked while you're rotating the fan. Check the alignment of the blades by using a yardstick and measuring the distance from the ceiling to the blade to ensure all blades are evenly spaced. 

Remember, the amount of vertical space should be between 8 and 10 inches to operate efficiently. If you notice one blade is out of alignment, gently bend the blade up or down so that it is even with the other blades.

4. Tighten the Screws

If the fan and the blades have been installed properly and cleaning it doesn’t do the trick, check the screws to see if tightening them eliminates the problem. Look for all visible screws on the fan, and use your screwdriver or pliers to secure them. Inspect the screws on the blade holders, the support screws, and the screws on the actual housing to ensure they’re all firmly attached. 

5. Use a Ceiling Fan Balancing Kit

If the wobble persists, try a ceiling fan balancing kit. If you still have the box from the original fan, check to see if one was included from the manufacturer. Otherwise, you can pick one up at your local hardware store or home center. A ceiling fan balancing kit usually comes with a plastic clip, weights, and adhesive for the weights. Here are the basics on how to use a kit: 

  • Attach painter’s tape to each blade arm and assign a number so you don’t lose track of the problem blade.

  • Slide the balancing clip to the center of the blade, and turn on the fan. Check to see if that fixes the instability.

  • If the fan still wobbles with the clip on the blade, turn off the fan, and add the balancing clip to the next blade. Turn on the fan to see if that fixes it. 

  • Repeat the process until you find the blade that stabilizes the fan with the clip attached.

  • Once you find the problem blade, slide the clip 1 inch along the fan blade toward the end. Turn the fan on, and see if the wobble has gotten better or worse. Keep sliding the clip toward the end in 1-inch increments until you find the most stable position.

  • After you have located the best position for the clip, line up one of the balancing weights parallel to the clip. Attach the weight with adhesive. Remove the clip. 

Note: You may need to add more than one weight to get the fan to run as smoothly as possible.

6. Try a Penny Instead

Wondering how to balance a ceiling fan without a kit? If you want to save yourself a trip to the hardware store, grab a few pennies, a tube of superglue, and some painter’s tape. 

  • Number the blades using painter’s tape.

  • Secure a penny to the center of one of the blades, and make sure it’s firmly attached with painter’s tape.

  • Turn on the fan to see if that stops the wobble.

  • If not, repeat this process with each blade until you find the culprit.

  • After you find the blade that is causing the shakiness, move the penny up and down the blade 1 inch at a time while turning the fan on and off to check for improvements. This will help you find the best position to fully eliminate the instability. 

  • Glue the penny to the fan blade once you’ve determined the optimal position. 

7. Replace the Blade

Sometimes, the actual blade arms may be the cause of your wobbly ceiling fan. Using your ladder, stand at eye-level with the fan to look for any visible warping or deformities. Blades can warp over time, but if the fan is newer, check with the manufacturer to see if they offer a warranty and can send you a replacement blade. 

Otherwise, you can purchase replacement blades by checking the manual or replacement-parts guide. Keep in mind, if the fan is more than 10 years old, it’s possible the motor housing has simply weakened. In this instance, it may be worth replacing the fan and starting fresh.

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