Why Is My Ceiling Fan Running Backwards?

Have you ever noticed that your ceiling fan isn't working properly? Maybe it's running in reverse or the blades aren't moving in the right direction. If you have, you are not alone. We know this is a common issue that can be really frustrating. We researched this issue thoroughly so we can help you get to the root of the problem.

This can happen if the ceiling fan motor is set to reverse. You may have accidentally switched the fan from normal operation to reverse.

If you want to better understand why your ceiling fan runs backwards, keep reading. We'll talk about the main problems that cause your ceiling fan to run backwards and how you can prevent this from happening again.

A Large Interior Fan on a Blue Coffered Ceiling, Why Is My Ceiling Fan Running Backwards?

Is It Normal For My Ceiling Fan To Run Backwards?

It may seem counterintuitive, but ceiling fans can actually run in reverse. This is because they are designed with a mechanical advantage, which means that the blades can create a lower velocity of air than the normal direction of their rotation.

A Large white ceiling fan with three blades

Thus, they can pull the air upwards or in the opposite direction of the blades. 

This is a beneficial feature, as it makes them ideal for stabilizing temperature. This feature is very useful, especially during winter, when you don't want an intensive draft or breeze. A ceiling fan can offer more than just providing ventilation.

You will find the reverse switch usually sitting on top of the motor housing. Try to check if it's the switch. If it's not, then you may have to troubleshoot the problem even further. 

Here's a video demonstrating how to simply fix this issue:

How Do You Troubleshoot A Ceiling Fan That Runs Backwards?

One of the most common complaints among homeowners is that their ceiling fans are running in the wrong direction.

There are many reasons why a ceiling fan could run in reverse mode, ranging from simple issues to a larger problem that requires a complete repair. To help you troubleshoot the issue yourself, we will list the possible causes below.

Bad Switch

One of the common causes of reverse rotation is a bad switch. The switch should have two positions: normal and reverse. When the switch is set to reverse, the fan will always run backwards.

In rare cases, the fan's wire connections to the switch are loose and they may touch, causing unwanted reverse rotation.

Faulty Capacitor 

A faulty capacitor can be a reason why your ceiling fan runs in reverse. Replacing the faulty capacitor with a new one may correct the issue. A similar incident happened to a Quora member, and it worked for him. To quote:

I just replaced the capacitor with a similar new one and the speed and the direction got corrected.

Capacitors are an integral part of a motor, which is why they are also referred to as the heart of the motor. When capacitors become defective, they don't allow electricity to flow from the motor's winding.

This can make the motor run in reverse or stall completely.

Faulty Wiring

If your ceiling fan has been installed and is operating normally, but it suddenly starts turning in reverse like you have a poltergeist at home, then it's likely because of faulty wiring. 

Check your ceiling fan's wiring diagram. It is always important to ensure that the wires in the fan are connected in the right sequence, as the reverse operation of a ceiling fan is likely because of a faulty connection in the capacitor.

An electrician removing wire-nuts from a fan assembly in the ceiling in the ceiling

Fan Spinning Backward When Off

When a motor is turned off, a small amount of current still flows in the coils. This means that the magnet will keep moving slightly and catch the rotating magnetic field, causing it to jerk back to the strongest magnetic field. This phenomenon is called "cogging".

Cogging is a phenomenon that happens in electric motors. It is caused by the interaction between the magnetic parts of the motor. A motor will tend to turn in a direction, and then stop and try to move in the opposite direction.

This is because the magnetic field around the motor has a strong center that attracts the magnet to run backwards after the fan shuts down.

Can You Fix a Ceiling Fan That Runs Backwards?

young handyman stepping on a ladder and fixing a ceiling fan

Yes, you can fix a ceiling fan that runs backwards. However, it is not recommended to attempt this repair yourself unless you have previous experience in electrical repairs.

For this repair, you will need a screwdriver, a voltmeter, a multimeter, and some wire cutters.

Start by removing the screws that hold the fan in place. Then, remove the fan.

Next, you will need to open up the fan's housing. You will need to locate the switch, the capacitor, and the motor. You must also be able to identify the wiring and the colors associated with it.

What Color Wires Go Together on a Ceiling Fan?

When you look at a ceiling fan, you may notice that the wires are often colored differently. The colors can be used to identify the function of each wire.

In the case of a ceiling fan, the color of the wires can tell you what is connected to what. For example, the black wire is connected to the fan.

You will find a blue wire if your ceiling fan comes with illuminating features to it. Green wire is the ground wire while white wire is the neutral.

How Much Does a Ceiling Fan Capacitor Cost?

A capacitor will cost you about $85 to $300, depending on the brand. If you are replacing the capacitor, you may want to consider buying a new fan instead.

Electrician repairing ceiling fan with lamps indoor

Top 5 Ceiling Fans

If you've been advised by the repair technician to replace your ceiling fan's capacitor, you might want to buy a new ceiling fan instead if the replacement capacitor is just as expensive as the fan itself.

Here are the top 5 ceiling fans to date:

1. Honeywell Ceiling Fan (Xerxes)

There‘s no need to sacrifice quality for function with this gorgeous ceiling fan, because its bold and beautiful design is matched with great functionality. The blades and frame of this ceiling fan are constructed of metal, wood laminate, or glass.

Its integrated LED light produces the perfect amount of lighting. A remote control allows you to change the speed and direction of the blades for complete control over how the fan spins.

Each blade is reversible, allowing you to switch the direction of the fan‘s spin without having to replace any parts.

The blades are made from a lightweight, yet sturdy material, which is able to withstand even the toughest of cleaning. 

Click here to see this Honeywell Xerxes ceiling fan on Amazon

2. Portage Bay Ceiling Fan

The Portage Bay ceiling fan combines sleek lines with a contemporary finish. Its frosted-case white light panel and matte metal blades cast a subtle glow and a touch of elegance in any room.

It is the perfect complement for many of our lighting solutions, making it the perfect choice for a bedroom, family room, or living room.

Click here to see this Portage Bay ceiling fan on Amazon

3. Honeywell Ceiling Fan (Carmel)

This Honeywell ceiling fan is a great choice if you're looking for something simple to update your space with. Not only do you get a fan that looks great in bronze finish, but the motor is quiet enough to keep your home cool without being noisy, and the remote control is easy to use.

It features frosted-case white lighting, which will illuminate the entire room and creates a comfortable ambiance in your home. It is ideal for medium to large rooms. Choose from 3 speeds that will keep you cool in summer and warm in winter.

Click here to see this Honeywell Carmel ceiling fan on Amazon

4. Honeywell Ceiling Fan (Carnegie)

Whether you love classic or modern design, the Honeywell ceiling fan is sure to bring a rustic chic feel to any room. This ceiling fan captures the charm of America while adding a modern twist to the timeless design. 

Edison bulbs illuminate the room without taking away from the beauty of the traditional look. The remote control allows you to adjust the speed and direction of the fan without getting out of your chair. Dual-finish blades with mopane and burnt oak finish complete the look.

Click here to see this Honeywell Carnegie ceiling fan on Amazon

5. Hunter Ceiling Fan

This Hunter ceiling fan combines low-profile design with quality craftsmanship. Crafted of durable metal, the Hunter ceiling fan offers a simple look yet superb lighting performance.

Multi-speed reversible motor lets you select the best speed for your room. LED lights provide soft ambient lighting.

Available in white, the Hunter ceiling fan is built to fit low ceilings. If you’re looking for dependable quality, Hunter’s lifetime motor warranty ensures you can count on this fan for years to come.

Click here to see this Hunter ceiling fan on Amazon

In Closing

A Large Interior Fan on a Blue Coffered Ceiling

When you see your ceiling fan spinning backwards, you might think it's broken. But the truth is, someone (or you) must have messed with the reverse switch. It's important to know what the reverse switch does, so you can fix it without overreacting and resorting to a more complicated and unnecessary troubleshooting process.

You might also like:

What Size Ceiling Fan Is Right For A Bedroom?

How To Fix a Ceiling Fan Light

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