How to replace a ceiling fan capacitor

Written by arthur ramsay
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How to replace a ceiling fan capacitor
Replacing a capacitor can make your ceiling fan spin again. (Ceiling Fan image by AJ Sellas from

Don't throw out that old, broken ceiling fan. If your fan refuses to spin or spins slowly, a new capacitor may give it a new lease on life. The Ceiling Fan Wizard tells us, "A capacitor is just small, but it plays an important role in your ceiling fan... It stores the energy that is needed for the motor to run and for the blade to turn." A healthy capacitor is vital to the proper operation of your ceiling fan.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Replacement capacitor
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire cutter
  • Electrical tape

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  1. 1

    Shut off power to the fan. Remove it from its housing and place it on a sturdy surface. Let the fan sit for one minute so its capacitor has time to fully discharge.

  2. 2

    Locate the capacitor. If your ceiling fan has different speed settings, it will be near the pull cord which changes the fan speed (this may also be a switch), and looks like a small rectangle with three to five wires attached to the base of the pull cord. If your fan only has one speed, the capacitor attaches to the two wires that supply power to the motor and will be next to the motor.

  3. 3

    Cut every wire that leads to the capacitor with wire cutters. Cut as close to the capacitor as possible so you can easily attach the replacement. On some models, you can remove the tape covering the capacitor and pull it out by hand without cutting.

  4. 4

    Wire in the replacement capacitor and secure each wire with electrical tape. Mixing up the wires will make the fan change speeds in the wrong order, but will not harm its lifespan.

  5. 5

    Replace the fan and turn on the power. It should perform as if it were brand new.

Tips and warnings

  • Call your fan's manufacturer and ask for a replacement capacitor. Often, they will send the one free of charge, or tell you where you can purchase one.
  • If you have to manually spin your fan to get it started, or it spins too slowly, it likely has a bad capacitor. Two visual signs of bad capacitors: bulging at the top and leaking fluid.
  • Never work on live electrical equipment. Always shut off power to the room the fan is in before doing maintenance on it.

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