Ceiling Fan Pull Chain Switch Lube ?

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Mar 30, 2015
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Lake Havasu City, Arizona
I've replaced 2 ceiling fans this past week. And have gone through all the others in the house, cleaning them, and hanging some extra length chains for the light / fan speed switches.

Some of the older fans have pull chain switches that are hard to pull, when compared to the newer fans I installed that work effortlessly. I was wondering if there was a spray lube anyone has used for such a purpose that worked well?

I'm reluctant to use WD-40 or silicone, without knowing if that is safe, or even advisable to use on an electrical switch? These things haven't been used for several years. (And most, except for the fan speed, are controlled from a wall switch). And there is no way to effectively clean them without pulling everything apart. And it would be easier to just replace the fan itself without going through all of that.

What can I spray inside of these pull chain switches to free them up, without screwing anything up? Or else making matters worse.
 
A shot of silicone spray would be fine... I have done that myself over the years and it works fine...
 
I can kill the power to both the fan and the lights with the wall switches. That would allow me to spray the lube into a dead switch. And then work it several times. Again, with zero current running to the switch.

I just don't want any surprises when I finally do give it the juice.
 
Those pull switches have gotten cheaper in quality over the years. What you are experiencing could be because of lesser quality switches in the new fans. Personally, I have never lubricated a pull switch on a ceiling fan. I’ve never had the need to do so. Most times the switches will completely fail and are replaced. They usually will lock up or strip out. I suppose you could use some sort of non-conductive silicon spray lubricant.
With any lubricant, they attract dust.
A CRC product may work.
 
Those pull switches have gotten cheaper in quality over the years. What you are experiencing could be because of lesser quality switches in the new fans. Personally, I have never lubricated a pull switch on a ceiling fan. I’ve never had the need to do so. Most times the switches will completely fail and are replaced. They usually will lock up or strip out. I suppose you could use some sort of non-conductive silicon spray lubricant.
With any lubricant, they attract dust.
A CRC product may work.
Be carefull with some of the CRC stuff... This stuff is safe on MOST plastics....that makes me avoid it... I get the silicone spray that says safe on ALL plastics....
 
A can of spray lube is half the cost of 2 new multi speed fan switches. If I were to use spray lube, I'd use a so-called dry spray lube. Home Depot might have something.
 
A can of spray lube is half the cost of 2 new multi speed fan switches.
It's not the cost that I'm worried about. (I already have the lube). It's standing on a ladder, screwing around, replacing small switches, and dealing with small wires that I'm trying to avoid. I'll give the silicone a shot. I have several cans of it of varying types.
 
The pull chains can be affected by dust and whatever else is in the air. I wouldn’t use a lot of lube on that. A wet lube will attract more dust.

Find a dry lube and apply sparingly with a Q Tip or something similar.

It’s amazing how much stuff can accumulate on a ceiling fan. Every so often I get up on a ladder and wipe the blades. It also gets onto the housing.
 
I never had to lubricate anything on a ceiling fan. If something is binding, that part should be replaced. About the only items needing cleaning are the blades.
 
It's not the cost that I'm worried about. (I already have the lube). It's standing on a ladder, screwing around, replacing small switches, and dealing with small wires that I'm trying to avoid. I'll give the silicone a shot. I have several cans of it of varying types.
Tiny little drop of dish liquid?
 
This topic confuses me. Being harder to pull is probably just a higher quality, more springy mechanism in them.

Most likely if they ever need any attention before they fail, it'll just be a shot of de-ox it to clean the switch contacts, if you can even get inside them to do it non-destructively. Well, they often aren't even sealed so removal and a bath in a de-oxidizer should work, or just replace the switch.

I don't even use the switches on my ceiling fans. Leave them at one set speed there, use a wall switch controller with different speed settings.
 
Here in the old northeast there are many pull chain swiches that are many years old. From bathroom lights and exhaust fans. Many basement lights here are pull chain with knob and tube wiring. They just need some love...
 
It's not the cost that I'm worried about. (I already have the lube). It's standing on a ladder, screwing around, replacing small switches, and dealing with small wires that I'm trying to avoid. I'll give the silicone a shot. I have several cans of it of varying types.
The small compartment containing the switches and capacitor can be unfastened and unplugged from the fan for servicing. Then brought down and worked on safely on the ground. That is only needed for actual part replacement. There's no maintenance needed other than a quick dusting.
 
With the wall switches off, I gave each of the troublesome pull switches several shots of electronic cleaner while working the pull chains. I sprayed it into the switch where the ball chain goes into the switch itself.

I gave it a few minutes to dry, then gave all of them a good shot of silicone spray in the same location. They all freed up immediately. This is the same silicone product I use on my sliding glass doors, that I have very good results with.

I let the the silicone dry for a good 15 minutes or so, then turned on the wall switches and there were no surprises. And all the pull chains worked slicker than snot... As good or better than the new ones.

It was most likely a buildup of dust and crap over the years that was making them sticky and tight. This is what I used......

https://www.lowes.com/pd/CRC-Contact-Cleaner/999964587

 
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