Problems with grandfather clocks

Written by zoobia ilyas
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Problems with grandfather clocks
A working Grandfather clock adds class and elegance to your home. (grandfather clock image by Paul Moore from

Also known as "tall" or "long" case clocks, Grandfather clocks stand on the floor and are usually quite tall. They contain a clock face that tells time, as well as a pendulum that swings from left to right. Because many Grandfather clocks are antiques, they often experience problems. Knowing which problems commonly arise will help you understand what is going on inside your Grandfather clock, setting your mind at ease until a professional arrives.

Pendulum Doesn't Swing

Grandfather clocks rely on weights that cause the pendulum to swing and power the clock. The pendulum cannot swing if the clock's machinery is dirty, broken or dry from lack of oil. Call a professional who can check for problems. If nothing seems broken, a professional knows how to disassemble and overhaul the clock. Do not attempt to overhaul the clock on your own, or you may damage it permanently.

Clock Stops Every Four Days

Grandfather clocks suffer from an affliction called "Four-Day disease." Sometimes the pendulum sways in a manner that dislocates the weights. When the weights sway, the case sways too, stopping the pendulum and clock. Make sure the case is always resting firmly against the wall. To prevent Four-Day disease altogether, attach the clock to the wall permanently.

Clock Always Stops Before Reaching One O'Clock

The clock's strike can fail to sound because its mechanism jams behind the dial. Check to see if the weight is wound correctly. Shift the minute hand back very slightly, but not past the hour. This clears any blockage that might have jammed the strike mechanism. Then pull the strike weight very gently while shifting the minute hand past the hour. This should fix the problem temporarily, but only a clockmaker knows how to fix it permanently.

Clock Runs Fast or Slow

Correct your Grandfather clock's speed by making minor adjustments to the pendulum. If your clock runs fast, move the pendulum lower. If your clock runs slowly, move the pendulum higher by turning the nut located beneath the rounded end. Reset your clock according to a reliable source. Wait a few days between adjustments before expecting to see a difference.

Clock Doesn't Run

Grandfather clocks that refuse to run may need servicing. Before calling a professional, check to see if the clock is fully wound and make sure its ticking occurs evenly. Check to see if the minute hand is caught on the hour hand. Call a professional to overhaul your Grandfather clock every 10 to 12 years.

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