The normal ceiling fan in our homes, like any electrical item that moves, is driven by a motor. I will not confuse you with the theoretical explanation of how an electrical motor works, but as in most electrical motors, they need a capacitor to kick start the motor. Again, I won’t bore you with how the capacitor does that. You just need to know that in order for the fan’s motor to start running, it needs a capacitor. Imagine it to be a accelerator of your car. It need to be stepped on in order for the car to move.
A normal branded ceiling fan in our homes can last a long time. Electrical motors that have been manufactured with all the correct specifications, don’t just burn themselves out. It might short circuit if you have a leaking roof and water has seeped into the motor, but under normal circumstances, a good quality ceiling fan should last more than 10 years. The worst scenario is they might just slow down and not able to push itself to spin. That is due to a weak capacitor. Replacing a new one will solve that.
Capacitors comes measured in micro farads or Ouf as indicated by the picture above. It may come in different shapes or sizes, but the most important thing is you get one with the same OuF or 5% higher. Never get one that has a lower OuF than the original. Just fix back the capacitor the way you took it out.