Is It Normal For A New Ceiling Fan To Smell? (How To Fix)

Ceiling fans are effective methods to move air around a room. Ceiling fans cool people, not spaces;  the electric motor that drives the fan and the light bulbs heats the air in the room. When moving air hits human skin, it causes the moisture on the skin to evaporate, leaving the skin it left behind cooler. Because it’s installed in the ceiling and into an electrical circuit, any potential problem should be investigated immediately.

ceiling fan smell

It is not typical for either a new or old ceiling fan to smell. It is vitally important that if you sense any odor from your new ceiling fan, you immediately turn it off and check it out before further use. A fire starting in an open space like a ceiling will spread quickly throughout the house.

If you smell something unusual, particularly if it has any burning smell attached to it, you must either call an electrician to investigate or check it out yourself if you have sufficient skills. 

Is It Normal For A New Ceiling Fan To Smell?

If your new ceiling fan in the room is giving off an odor, you must treat the situation with the seriousness it deserves. Urgently take the following steps.

Turn It Off

If the ceiling fan has a wall-mounted on-off switch, turn it off immediately. If the fan doesn’t have a separate wall-mounted on/off switch, then find the circuit to which it is attached in the distribution board (DB) and turn it off. The goal is to have no electrical current connected to the ceiling-mounted fan until it has been checked out.

Call The Installing Electrician

ceiling fan electrician

If a professional electrician installed the ceiling fan, call them and ask them to come through and check the installation.

Here Are The DIY Steps To Follow

If you have the requisite electrical skills, you can do the following.

  1. Wear electrical gloves and use an insulated screwdriver. 
  2. Ensure that there is no current at the ceiling fan
  3. Using a safe stair ladder, climb to a height where you can comfortably reach the fan without having to stretch for it.
  4. Pull the ceiling fan canopy down (the small upside-down bell-shaped part which hides the mounting point on the ceiling). You may need to unscrew a few tightening screws.
  5. The wires may connect in a junction box; if so, unscrew the cover and take it off the junction box.
  6. It’s VERY IMPORTANT to remember that a ceiling fan has a capacitor that will continue to hold an electric current even when the fan is switched off.
  7. Before working on the connections,  carefully touch the insulated screwdriver against the negative and positive wires while wearing the electrical gloves; this may cause a little spark, and it means that the capacitor has been discharged.
  8. You can double-check this by checking with a voltmeter.
  9. When you can see the wires and the connectors, remove the scruits (plastic joiners) or wire nuts and disconnect the cables. Once removed, make sure you carefully insulate the negative and positive cables – we don’t want a fire starting because we were trying to prevent one!!
  10. Once the wires are disconnected, you can remove the fan from the mounting. There is usually a simple mounting bracket that is easy to uninstall and remove.

Check For Any Burning In The Ceiling, Loft Space Or Attic

ceiling burn

Firstly, if you have a walk-in attic, enter it and make your way to the ceiling fan position. 

You can do the same in a loft or ceiling space. If you have access to the ceiling, ensure adequate lighting and that you have the agility to move from timber truss to timber truss. Make sure you don’t step on the ceiling – this is a guaranteed way to get into your spouse’s bad books and is not conducive to a long and peaceful life. Sometimes it is better to claim incompetence today to live and show your abilities another!

Assuming it’s all go for the ceiling expedition, carefully enter it and make your way to the ceiling fan’s mounting position.

Check the wiring which was connected to the ceiling fan. Look out for any charring, hot spots, or melted insulation. 

It is essential to check the ceiling board and surrounding roof trusses to ensure no burn or singe marks.

If there is a problem with this wiring, it is time to call a certified electrician.

If all is in order, you can return to the ground.

Once The Fan Is Removed, You Need To Decide On The Way Forward.

If the ceiling fan is brand new and purchased from a reputable company, return it and ask for a replacement (preferably a different model from another manufacturer.)

If the ceiling fan is not brand new or it has been purchased from a company that doesn’t take returns (extraordinary!), then you can have a look at it yourself.

The ceiling fan consists of six main components;

  1. The fan motor
  2. The light unit
  3. The down rod (shaft)
  4. The blades
  5. The mounting base
  6. It may have a switch attached for the lights and the fan in the unit or installed in the room wall.

Using the installation instructions, you can work in reverse to dismantle the light, the blades, and the fan motor from the down rod.

Check all the wring for charring, melted insulation, chafing, or other signs of damage. If the wiring is the problem, all wires need to be replaced, while you also must carefully look to find the cause. It’s pointless installing any new part without understanding the cause and rectifying that.

You can purchase replacement fan motors; however, if the problem is in the wiring, a replacement unit will not help.

Finally, check the light unit. Open it up and check the wiring into the bulb fitting. It’s always good to change the bulbs to low-wattage units. Not only will they save you with your electrical costs, but they will reduce the amount of heat generated, which may stop the burning smell.

If you can ascertain the reason and the fix is within your ability, then go ahead and give it a go.

At all times, remember that any electrical unit which connects to the ceiling must be 100% safe and installed correctly. As mentioned earlier, if a fire starts in the ceiling, it will spread very rapidly.

Finally, if you have fixed the problem or replaced the fan, you can now go ahead on reinstall it.


You must treat any smell from a new or old fan with the utmost urgency. Cut the electrical current to the unit and call an electrician for assistance.

If you have the capability, feel free to go and investigate the problem; however, remember the extreme fire risks and stay fully aware.

Photo of author

Barry Gray

Hi, I’m Barry. I’ve loved woodworking and bringing things back to life for more years than I care to remember. I hope my passion for tools comes across loud and clear in everything you read here on The Tool Square.