How To Fix A Broken Chain On A Ceiling Fan

how to fix a broken chain on a ceiling fan
Photo by Curtis Adams from Pexels

A broken ceiling fan pull chain is one of the common problems fan owners face. Children are likely to play with the fan’s chain if their hands can reach it and constant pulling can cause the chain to snap off. Also, the chain is weakly beaded so even a moderate pull can cause it to break. However, when this happens, it does not mean your ceiling has become useless or you need to buy a new one, you can easily fix it yourself and it won’t take so much of your time. To learn how to fix a broken chain on a ceiling fan, all you just have to do is follow some simple instructions. 

If your ceiling chain breaks, then, there’s a simple way to go about it. First, open the switch in the ceiling fan to remove the broken piece of chain before you replace it with a longer chain. However, if the switch is already completely broken, you’ll need to get a replacement before you remove the old one and install the new switch. Ensure to turn off the powerhouse before dismantling the ceiling fan.

Tools You’d Need To Fix A Broken Chain On A Ceiling Fan

Here are some tools you’ll need to get this done:

  1. A screwdriver.
  2. A ladder.
  3. A new chain.
  4. A wire stripper.
  5. Twist-on connectors.
  6. A replacement switch (if necessary). 

There are different ways you can go about fixing a broken chain on a ceiling fan. Let us examine some of the methods.

Different Methods Of Fixing A Broken Chain On A Ceiling Fan

1. Uninstall The Fixture Housing 

Step 1: Turn Off The Main Switch

The first thing to do before going ahead to uninstall the fixture housing is to turn the power off at the main switch. Find the circuit breaker, it would most likely be in your basement or closet or outside the house. When you locate it, open it and turn off the power connected to the room the ceiling fan is to cut off electricity when you’re fixing the fan. This is to ensure your safety. 

In case you’re not certain of which of the switches is connected to the room, don’t hesitate to turn the main power off, the fixing does not take too much time.

Step 2: Detach The Lightbulbs Attached To The Ceiling Fan

This is to prevent the bulbs from breaking. Use a lifting aid, preferably, a ladder to get this done. Carefully detach the light bulbs and put them on a towel or a fabric. If your fan has globes, then remove them, using a screwdriver to unscrew.

Step 3: Unscrew The Screws Holding The Lightbulbs In Place 

The main housing of the ceiling where the wiring is stored is usually fused together with visible screws. Take out the screws with a screwdriver and loosen the fixture to access the switch and the wiring. Keep the screws and all other detachable fixtures in a safe place so you won’t lose any important piece when you’re about to re-attach them. 

Step 4: Remove The Nut On The Fixture’s Side That Holds The Switch In Place 

Check the exterior of the fixture where you’ll find a small nut. Go ahead to unscrew the nut and completely remove it. It would give you access to the ceiling fan chain switch. Keep the small nut so you don’t lose it. 

Step 5: Remove The Switch To Examine The Chain Properly

Once you remove the switch from the fixture, examine it properly. If the switch’s wiring is broken, don’t delay the replacement. Use a screwdriver to open the switch and examine if the chain needs to be replaced with a longer piece or if you would need to get an entirely new switch. If the chain looks like it can be replaced, just use a longer chain to fix it rather than buy a new one. If it looks broken, get a replacement. 

2. Replace The Broken Chain

Step 1: Use A Screwdriver To Open The Switch

When it is separated into two pieces, you’ll see the spring and the chain very well. Remove the chain from the wiring, just pull the wires out of the switch. While opening the switch, take care not to misplace any of the screws or pieces. If you still can’t see the chain and spring, then remove the protective plate covering them inside the switch. 

Step 2: Remove The Broken Chain 

Next thing you want to do is to remove the broken chain as well as all the contents in the switch. The contents in the switch won’t be tight so you won’t find it difficult to take them out. Remove the broken chain from the disc using a screwdriver. Dispose of the broken chain once you have removed it. 

Step 3: Install A Longer Chain

Install a piece longer than the broken chain in the broken chain’s spot. The same way the broken chain was removed, put a longer chain that can easily pass through the fixture and get to the old chain’s spot. Fasten the long chain into the disc where you removed the broken chain was, use your fingers to do this. 

Step 4: Fix Switch Back In Its Position

Put the switch back in place by assembling the spring and chain. Return the chain and spring connected to the disc, into the switch. From the switch hole, pull the chain, to help you pull it out easily. If you removed the protective plate holding the fixtures in place, put it back in place. 

Use a screwdriver or your finger to hold down the chain and spring in place so it does not detach when you’re attaching the two major pieces of the switch together. After this, the two switch parts will lean back into each other without efforts. 

Step 5: Replace Switch Into Fixture

Replace the switch into the fixture and re-screw the switch nuts. Just the way you took out the switch, place the switch back in with the wires. Ensure to put the switch by where the small nut was loosened on the outside of the fixture. Fasten the nut back to hold the switch in place.

3. How To Install A New Switch

If the chain has broken beyond replacement, then, the next thing to do is to fix a new switch. Here are the steps to follow to help you get that done:

Step 1: Get A New Switch 

You can get a new switch from any store where home improvement gadgets are sold. Snap a picture of the old switch to know which new one to purchase or preferably, disassemble the bad switch and take it with you to the store. 

At the store, check for fan switch or fan light switch or anything related to a switch for a ceiling fan. If you’re not sure, make an enquiry from any of the staff at the store to help you determine the right switch to buy. 

Step 2: Disconnect Old Switch

After you have purchased the new switch, disconnect the wires from the old switch. You can pull or untwist the connectors holding the wires together to easily detach them from the old switch. 

Remove each wire by pulling off the connectors to take out the old switch. Take note of which of the wires are connected to the switch before you disassemble it in order to know the right wires when it’s time to put them back together. It is better to take a picture for better referencing. 

Step 3: Strip The Insulation Off The Wire Ends

Use a wire stripper to cut the insulation away from the ends of the wires attached to the newly purchased switch. Cut into the insulation before you pull it towards the end of the wire, and, then, remove it. This way, the electrical connections can go through the wires.

Step 4: Join The Wires Together And Protect With Connectors

Find the previously installed wires that you will attach the new wires to and join them together tightly in a clockwise motion. Most of the wires can be sorted by color so it will be easy to piece the correct wires together. Make sure you cover the naked wire with a twist-on connector. 

If you don’t know how the wires are meant to be connected, then go back to the picture (if you took one) for referencing. You can get it in any home improvement appliance store. It is also called wire nuts.  

Step 5: Install Newly Purchased Switch 

Finally, you get to install your new switch inside the ceiling fan’s housing to re-screw the nut outside. Hold the switch in place to the fixtures and fasten the nut that is outside the fixture to hold the switch tightly back in place. 

4. Attaching The Fixtures Together

Step 1: Put The Fixture Back In Place

Do this by holding the fixture on top of the wiring and putting it back in place. When you’ve done this, re-fix the part of the removed fixture back in place over the wiring. Tightly, hold it down and use a screwdriver to fix the screws back in. You might need some help to hold the fixture in place while you fix the screws back in. 

Step 2: Reattach Lightbulbs If Any

Re-attach the lightbulbs into the fixtures if your ceiling fan has lightbulb attachment. In case you removed any other fixture or bulbs before fixing the broken chain, re-attach them by twisting them back on or use a screwdriver to reinstall the screws. Carefully twist each bulb back into place.

For instructions on how to install a ceiling fan with light, click here to read How To Install A Ceiling Fan With Light.

Step 3: Restore Power From The Main Switch

turn on the main power back on. Go back to the circuit breaker where the main power switch is, and turn on the switch which connects to the room power. If the circuit breaker is not labeled, ensure you turn on the right power. Do this by testing the light switch in the ceiling fan room. 

Step 4: Test The Chain To See That It Works

check out the pull chain to be sure it’s working. Do this by flipping the power switch of that to turn on the fan. Once the pull chain is now fully installed, pull on it carefully to be sure it’s working perfectly. If the lights come on or the fan starts rotating, then it means your fan is good to keep working. When you’re testing, avoid pulling the chain with too much force, this is what causes it to break.

Safety Tips

It is better to purchase the ceiling fan pull switch kits to help you replace the new switch. Also, leave at least two inches of wire attached to the base of the ceiling fan to make it easier for you to attach the new pull chain switch. For more practical steps, check out the video below:

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