Easy Fixes for Fans, plus Cooling Tips

There are many ways to keep cool at low cost. Insulation, energy-efficient windows and doors, shading and good ventilation can help regulate interior conditions with a minimum of energy input.

Easy Fixes for Fans, plus Cooling Tips

My desk fan is making a racket

Bend the blades back into shape

An upright desk-type fan that rattles as it spins probably has misaligned blades.

  1. Unplug the fan, then unclip the front section of the grille — you may need to undo some small screws around the edge. The hub where the fan blades are mounted will normally just pull or twist off, or it may be held in place with a clip.
  2. Remove the hub and blade assembly and lay it down on a table; each blade should touch the surface at the same point along its length. Use your hands, or a pair of pliers if the metal is too stiff, to bend any misaligned blades back into position, then reassemble the fan.

My ceiling fan wobbles

Clean and tighten the blades

Ceiling fans help cool your home at little cost. However, they become inefficient when their blades are not completely balanced; even a coating of dust is enough to throw them off-kilter.

  1. Set up a ladder securely so that you can comfortably reach all of the fan blades. Give each blade a good clean with warm soapy water; protect the carpet or furniture beneath the fan with a plastic sheet before you start.
  2. Let the blades dry, then rub car wax on the upper side of each one to help prevent the dust from building up again.
  3. While you're on the ladder, check that all the screws holding the blades into their central mount are tight. It's important that there's no play in these screws, because once they become a little loose, the rotation of the fan will shake them out even faster. Running your fan with a wobble will put strain on the bearings inside.
  4. If your fan still wobbles, try juggling the positions of the blades. One pair at a time, swap adjacent blades and then try the fan at all available speeds. Be systematic, so you can be sure you have tried all the possible options. Number each blade and write down a plan: 1 to 2, 1 to 3, 1 to 4, 2 to 3, and so on.
  5. If the fan remains out of balance, try taping washers or small coins to the upper sides of the blades, near the tip. Experiment with different blades, different positions and more than one coin or washer until your fan runs smoothly at every speed.

The sun turns my house into an oven

Block the heat

Passive shading is remarkably effective at keeping interior temperatures down in sunny climates or during heat waves.

  1. Close the curtains on south- and west-facing windows during the day; keep the windows closed, too.
  2. Consider installing white sunshades (or dense bamboo blinds) on south-facing windows, or fitting awnings that shade the windows from the outside. Alternatively, cover the window panes with specialist films, called Low-E films, that reflect sunlight away.
  3. Plant bushes and trees to cast shadows on south-facing aspects of the house. You can achieve the same effect with trellises and rambling plants.
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