What kind of helper-person do I need?
November 20, 2020 8:39 AM   Subscribe

So, my ceiling fan is possessed and I'm not sure if I need an electrician or a handyman?

After the last big hurricane wafted through the A, my power went out and when it came back on, my fan, which had previously been off completely, is now stuck on HIGH. As in, I cannot have the light on without the fan being on, and it's blowing at full speed.

I tried turning the power on and off again from the breaker and that didn't reset it. I gather the capacitor is blown or else I need to reset the switches (like your garage door opener, it's one of the remote control only fans), or else I need to replace the fan. My boyfriend tried to take the globe off to get to the switches, but could not remove the glass, and I didn't want to push it and have him break it without knowing . . .what next?

Do we just replace the whole fan, or get someone in to diagnose it? Fans aren't so expensive that I care about just replacing it, it just seems so wasteful. Electrician? Handyman? I've never had a possessed fan before.
posted by Medieval Maven to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Forgive me if you tried this but is there a chance that the batteries in the remote are dead by a total coincidence of timing?
posted by phunniemee at 8:46 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

Follow up to say: Batteries in remote are definitely not dead, LOL.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:56 AM on November 20

Handyman should be able to do this if you're happy to pay to replace the motor or the fan itself. From your description it sounds like neither of you are super handy but I've had good luck replacing just the switch itself in the past. This is the kind of thing that's fairly trivial to YouTube how-tos if you do want to give it a go on your own.
posted by edbles at 9:01 AM on November 20

Either an electrician or a handyman (or you) can install a ceiling fan. Electrician would be required if you need different wiring; for example if you want separate light switches to control fan and light and you don’t already have them.

Given that you already have a fan, the main obstacle to installing one (not having a fan rated ceiling box) shouldn’t be an issue. (Shouldn’t.)

Does your remote control have a reverse switch on it? If not, and unless you have some reason to think otherwise, I would expect the remote receiver to be up in the canopy at the ceiling. The fan is probably (but you’ll have to look) held up so that you can open up the canopy without the fan coming down.

That said, if you can’t get the glass off, your lights will burn out eventually anyway so you can just replace the whole thing.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:01 AM on November 20

I have a ceiling fan that does this occasionally. The key for mine is to re-sync the remote to the fan (if you don't have the manual anymore, check YouTube), and on mine I just do that by holding down a button in the battery compartment while turning on the light switch.
posted by jonathanhughes at 9:13 AM on November 20 [1 favorite]

From what I can tell, your brand of fan has a receiver up in the canopy which uses Dip switches which need to be set the same as the switches on your transmitter. (So don’t change them on just the transmitter or it won’t work.)

You will need to get the canopy opened up and swap out the receiver. You can buy any brand of “universal remote” and use it. You should not have to remove the glass, at least not for this.

If you can find your fan on this site, it should link to the owner manual so you can see how the canopy is attached and also how to take off the glass.

If there’s a minimum labor charge to bring somebody in to swap out the receiver, then it may make it worthwhile to just replace the fan. Fan will take longer and will involve wiring it anyway, so if you only have to pay for like an hour it should be cheaper to do the receiver.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 9:40 AM on November 20

There's some issue with the controller/receiver in the fan or the transmitter is faulty.

Does the remote do anything?

If yes, but doesn't control fan and light independently, seems like controller.

If no, then check batteries (done, it sound like).

If batteries okay, try to relink remote with controller. These can be dip switches but if they are, then somethings likely broken as the switches won't change randomly.

More recent devices probably have some learning sequence, eg, turn on fan/light and hold some button on remote for 30s or something like that.

If that doesn't work, I would suspect the controller. This could be replaced by you if you are comfortable with that work. But it seems likely that it is not. This would for me be a handyman task rather than electrician. The fan and light are getting power and the hookups and installation are pretty standard.

If you can't figure out what part to get, it may require a whole new unit. That's pretty wasteful if the lights and motor works. Try to figure out the brand/model and you may get better suggestions. Take some pictures of the unit and remote and post a link to them.
posted by jclarkin at 10:24 AM on November 20

Most likely is simply that the fan unit has forgotten the frequency that pairs with the remote control. You need to go through a training sequence to pair the units again.

Do you know the make and model of light/fan? If you don't see anything on the light itself, maybe on the back of the remote or inside the battery cover of the remote. From that information you can easily find out the correct training sequence.

Here is one example. Turn off the wall switch to the fan. Then turn on the wall switch and then hold down the "stop" button on the remote for at least 10 seconds. If paired, the fan light with blink twice.

Or if you open up the remote battery case, you might see one tiny button inside. This is the training button. Go through the same sequence of turning off, then turning on the wall switch, and holding the training button for 10 seconds. Again, the light should blink twice if paired.
posted by JackFlash at 3:04 PM on November 20

Your fan has a remote control? We need the make and model of the thing, at a minimum, to google possible issues. Clearly it's controlled by a microcontroller that's likely fried (though a blown capacitor or transistor on the board is a distinct possibility) and current is simply going directly to the motor. If neither of you are comfortable with troubleshooting circuits then, absolutely, replace it or just live with the wall switch.
posted by IronLizard at 11:23 PM on November 20

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