Ceiling fans are effective—they have been successfully used to cool homeowners for years. They also don’t cost a packet to run. However, the effectiveness and low running costs are moot points if you have to buy a new unit every couple of years.
Happily, ceiling fans are long-lasting appliances. The exact lifespan of a ceiling fan is dependent on a number of factors, many of which are under your control, so you have the power to potentially extend your ceiling fan’s life by a few years.
On average, ceiling fans last 8-10 years. Actual ceiling fan lifespan is dependent on quality, maintenance, usage, climate, placement, and motor size.
The Lifespan of an Average Ceiling Fan
The average ceiling fan will last 8-10 years. Some higher-quality fans are able to last closer to 15 years before needing to be replaced.
The actual lifespan can be shorter or longer than the average, depending on the fan that you choose and a number of other factors. We will discuss these factors shortly. First, let’s have a look at the average ceiling fan warranty period.
Average Ceiling Fan Warranty Period
I always use warranty periods as an indicator of the average appliance lifespan. If the manufacturer is not willing to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, then why risk buying their product.
Ceiling fan manufacturers provide their products with an average part warranty of 1-3 years.
They have a separate motor warranty that can range from 5 years to a lifetime. The reason for this discrepancy in part and motor warranty is that the parts are more likely to be damaged due to carelessness. Motor failure is more likely to be the result of a manufacturing error.
Hunter and Kichler fans seem to be the longest lasting based on the warranty conditions.
Factors Influencing How Long Ceiling Fans Last
As with anything, not all ceiling fans are of equal quality. You get both inter- and intra-brand differences, so you need to make the right choice when selecting your brand and model.
Not only are there different materials that ceiling fans can be made from, but the quality of these materials can vary.
Then there is workmanship. A fan can be made from the finest materials, but if it is designed or constructed poorly, then the lovely wooden blades can sit skew in the lovely metal blade brackets, or your beautiful light fixture can fall right out of the beautiful fan body.
The most expensive fans are not necessarily the best and most long-lasting out there, but fans that are extremely cheap are typically made from low-quality materials or with little time devoted to design and construction.
Doing routine fan maintenance might not expand your ceiling fan’s lifespan but it will make sure that it reaches the age that it is supposed to reach.
On the other hand, it is possible to get your ceiling fan with an average lifespan of 10 years to last closer to 15 years by simply taking proper care of it.
At the end of this article, I provide some tips on proper ceiling fan maintenance.
How long and how often you use your fan will directly influence its lifespan.
Ceiling fans are designed to run often and for extended periods of time. So, you should be able to run it, say, through the night without risking overheating, and every night in the summer without significantly decreasing the projected lifespan.
Furthermore, they typically have low energy consumption, particularly the DC ceiling fans. This means that running your fan overnight or during the peak heat hours of the day is not going to make your utility bill frightening.
However, whenever you use the fan, you are subjecting the various parts to wear and tear and so the frequency of use is linked to longevity. Additionally, when you use the fan for several hours at a time, the motor is more likely to heat up and be subjected to excess strain.
So, leaving your ceiling fan on all the time is not a good idea. There is also no point in having it run if you are not in the room.
The climate of your area can also affect the lifespan of your ceiling fan.
Humid climates increase the likelihood of rust forming on the metal parts of a ceiling fan. Rust weakens the appliance and, depending on where it forms, it can also increase the friction between moving parts, putting strain on the motor.
The chance of wooden blades deforming, becoming unbalanced, and rotting also increases. Deformed or unbalanced blades are another way in which a ceiling fan motor is put under abnormal strain.
Living near the coast means that your fan is subjected to salty air as well as higher humidity. Salt is a corrosive substance that can really attack the metal parts of your fan, including the all-important motor.
If you live in a very humid climate or by the coast, you may benefit more in the long run from a higher-quality fan.
Where you put the ceiling fan is going to affect how long it lasts.
An outdoor fan is subjected to more weathering, which is able to cut a few months to years off of its life depending on the climate. Usually, outdoor-specific fans are designed to resist the elements, but they would still last much longer if they were installed outside.
You should never install an indoor ceiling fan in an outdoor area, even if it is somewhere like a covered porch. These fans are not designed to withstand outdoor conditions and will not only last fewer years, but they can also become very unsafe to use.
It’s not just about inside or outside installation, however. Where in the house your fan is installed also makes a difference.
A fan in the bedroom is not subjected to much excess strain as it goes about its task. In the kitchen, on the other hand, you have things like grime and steam that can take their toll on the motor and materials.
In general, smaller motors last fewer years than larger motors. However, in the case of a ceiling fan, what is of greater importance is the size of the motor in relation to the room or cooling requirements.
In hot climates, you want your ceiling fan to run for longer and provide greater cooling. If you choose a fan with a small motor, then it is more likely to overheat from the length of time it runs and the high setting required to make it sufficiently effective at cooling you.
Similarly, if you install a small fan in a large room, its effects will be felt sufficiently in only a small part of the room and you end up running it longer and at higher speed settings to try and extend its reach.
How To Maintain a Ceiling Fan Properly
In order to increase the lifespan (and improve the efficiency) of your ceiling fan, regular maintenance is vital.
Consistent and frequent dusting of the blades and motor cover is important. Dust can build up and throw the blades out of balance and dust entering the motor cover can clog up the motor itself.
Keeping all the screws tight is also a part of good ceiling fan maintenance. There are many screws in a ceiling fan installation and they can all rattle loose from the vibrations of the running motor and spinning blades.
Loose screws are going to make themselves obvious through noise. Clicking, grinding, and even humming can indicate one or several screws are loose.
But a loose screw is not just going to make the fan noisier. It can also throw the ceiling fan out of balance, straining the motor, which shortens its lifespan.
Some fans require manual lubrication of the bearings. They will have a small hole in the body of the fan somewhere. If you have such a fan, then you have to remember to add oil (motor oil is a good choice). Otherwise, the bearings will dry out and increase friction, which strains the motor and erodes parts.
Another good maintenance tip is to address issues as they arise. If you fan starts making noises or hums but doesn’t turn, then set some time aside and problem solve as soon as possible to ensure that the damage or fault does not progress.
When Should You Replace a Ceiling Fan?
Maintenance can do a lot to increase the longevity of a ceiling fan but only up to a certain point.
If your fan blades are unbalanced and no amount of tightening of screws or application of balancing weights is fixing the problem, then it might be time to replace the blades or to get a new fan entirely. Similarly, if the blades are warped, cracked, or otherwise broken, full fan replacement may be the best solution.
Motors that emit a burning smell or smoke should be shut off immediately and examined by a professional. The issue may be faulty wiring that can be repaired without replacement. However, a motor that has been exposed to fire-causing temperatures is likely to have suffered irreparable damage.
Ceiling fans that suddenly start using a lot more power than they used to are probably reaching the end of their lives.
If you keep having recurring issues even after a professional fix, it may be best to replace your ceiling fan.