Identifying Types of Ceiling Fan Noise (and What They Mean)

Is your ceiling fan making a noise and you’re not sure if that’s normal or if you should be worried? Here’s what you need to know to identify different fan noises.

A well mounted and maintained ceiling fan in good condition should only be making a quiet whirring noise and be no louder than 60 dB to 70 dB. If there are other or louder noised coming from your fan, it should be inspected to find and fix the problem.

Below we’ll get into what different sounds your ceiling fan can be making, which sounds are cause for worry and which ones should be fixed immediately.

Identifying Types of Ceiling Fan Noise

When attempting to identify and fix the cause of ceiling fan noise, be sure to consult the manual provided by your fan’s manufacturer.

Also read: 13 Reasons why your ceiling fan is noisy and how to fix it.

When in acceptable condition, the average residential ceiling fan should be no louder than 60 dB (decibels) to 70 dB, or the volume of a normal conversation or pre-pandemic corporate office. There are five different types of noise ceiling fans can make when dirty, damaged, or malfunctioning: 

1. Clicking or Rattling

Clicking and rattling are mechanical noises made by two or more pieces of the fan hitting each other. In-ceiling fans typically come from joints between two parts, for example, the joint between fan blades and the blade irons. A clicking ceiling fan usually means that one or more parts are loose, allowing them to impact each other.

2. Humming

Humming noises in ceiling fans can be either mechanical or electrical, and it’s difficult to tell which it is. Mechanical humming is typically caused by the ceiling fan’s motor vibrating in its housing. 

Electrical humming is often due to a bad connection somewhere in the wiring between the fan and your circuit breaker. The hum can also be produced by electrical components vibrating in the magnetic fields produced by the current.

Another possible cause of a humming ceiling fan is an insect trapped in its housing or light fixture globe.

3. Rubbing Noises (Grinding, Scraping, Squeaking)

Many of the possible noises a ceiling fan can make are caused by the moving parts rubbing against each other. These noises will generally come from the motor, rotor, flywheel, or other parts near the center of the fan.

The exact nature of the noise produced will be determined by the materials rubbing together. The rubbing of metal components will generally produce a more high-pitched metallic noise. Plastic components will produce a more dull noise when improperly rubbing.

4. Whirring

Whirring is made by the fan blades traveling through the air and is expected under regular operation. But if it is excessively loud, it can indicate something is wrong with the blades. It’s not a common cause of noise in ceiling fans, but it’s a possibility.

5. Buzzing, Crackling, or Sizzling

Buzzing, crackling, or sizzling noises typically indicate electrical problems within your ceiling fan. A qualified electrician should tend to electrical problems.

Like electrical humming, electrical buzzing is typically produced by electrical components vibrating under the influence of the magnetic fields produced by electrical circuits. Buzzing is made by larger components or by vibrating components hitting other parts of the fan.

Crackling and sizzling are both very bad noises for any electrical appliance to make. They’re caused by either short circuits, which could start a fire, or even a small electrical fire.

Suggested: What could cause a ceiling fan to spark?


Matt moved to a location where the climate is hot and humid year round 8 years ago and got a bit obsessed with ceiling fans as an alternative or supplement to air-conditioning. He just wants the optimal ceiling fan and to get it to work the best for the specific situation. And now you can follow what he learned on

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