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How to Fix a Drone Propeller That Won’t Spin

Updated in 2024 by Paul Posea
 Drone Propeller

You’ve got your sights set on a spectacular setting for your upcoming session. But when you finally pull your drone out of its case and power it up, your excitement immediately dies down.

One or more of your drone’s propellers just won’t spin. It’s needless to say that you’ll have to put your plans on hold.

But don’t worry, I’ve been there too. It most definitely doesn’t mark the end of your drone’s lifespan.

Here’s the thing: these issues are bound to pop up on your drone flying journey, especially if you dilly-dally on the maintenance side of things.

The good news is that all your propeller problems have answers.

In this post, we’ll be pinning down exactly what the fix may be for you. Most of the adjustments I mention will also apply to propellers that spin improperly or have an anomalous speed.

Why is your drone propeller not spinning?

I've spent countless hours researching and dealing with various drone issues, especially when it comes to propellers. So, let's get straight to the point and figure out why your propeller for the drone might not be spinning.

Motor or ESC Problems: The most common issue is with the motor or the Electronic Speed Controller (ESC). If these parts aren't working, your propeller won't spin. Think of them as the heart and brain of your drone's movement.

Stuff Blocking Propellers: Always check for small things like leaves or dirt stuck in the propellers. These can easily jam them.

Calibration and Setup: Make sure your drone is set up and calibrated right. If it's not, the propellers might not spin correctly.

Wiring and Connection: Broken wires or loose connections can stop the propellers. It's like having a lamp with a frayed cord – it won't light up.

Battery Issues: A weak or dead battery means no power for the propellers. It's like trying to start a car with a dead battery.

Building Mistakes: If you built your drone, a screw that's too tight or too loose can mess up the propellers. It's all about getting the balance right.

How to Test for Motor vs. ESC: If you're not sure what's wrong, try this: switch the motor from a non-spinning propeller with one that works. If the problem stays with the motor, it's likely a motor issue. If the problem moves, then the ESC might be faulty.

These tips should help you identify the problem. Most of these can be fixed with a careful look and some adjustments.

How do you fix a propeller that won’t spin on your drone?

So, you now know about the usual culprits. Here’s how you can start narrowing your list of causes step by step and eventually fix your propeller.

You can fix a propeller that won’t spin by making sure it’s charged, clearing up obstructions, reconnecting the drone controller, reinitializing calibration, reinstalling the propeller, replacing damaged wires, and inspecting the motor. However, sometimes the issue may require expert evaluation.

Propeller and Motor Inspection

Let’s take a look at these fixes in a bit more detail.

Battery Check and Maintenance

I've learned that a healthy battery is key to a smooth flight, especially when it comes to preventing issues like the propeller not spinning. Let me guide you through some simple yet effective steps to maintain your drone's battery. 

Always Fully Charge: Before you fly, ensure the battery is 100% charged. A half-charged battery might not power the propellers enough to spin.

Voltage Matters: Your drone needs the right voltage to work well. Check that the battery's voltage matches what your drone needs. If it's too low, you might find your propeller not spinning.

Keep an Eye on Battery Health: Batteries wear out over time. Watch for signs like losing charge fast or not charging fully. If you see these, it might be time for a new battery.

Store it Right: Keep your battery in a cool, dry place when not in use. Avoid extreme heat or cold, and keep it away from moisture.

Regular Battery Check-Ups: Just like the rest of your drone, the battery needs regular maintenance. Clean the contacts and look for damage like swelling or leaks.

Use the Correct Charger: Always charge your drone with the charger it came with or one the manufacturer recommends. The wrong charger can damage your battery.

Pay Attention to Battery Indicators: Most drones have battery life indicators. Watch these while you fly. If they show a low battery warning, it's time to land and recharge.

For more detailed guidance on fixing the drone battery, you can check out this helpful page. It's a great resource for ensuring your drone's battery is always in top condition.

Gyroscope Initialization and Calibration

This is about a small tool in your drone that helps keep it steady and balanced while flying. If your drone is not flying right, you might need to check this tool, called a gyroscope. Here's how to get it ready and set it up properly:

What the Gyroscope Does: The gyroscope in your drone helps it know which way is up and how fast it's turning. This is really important for the drone to fly smoothly and do what you want it to do.

Starting the Gyroscope: First, you need to get the gyroscope ready. Put your drone on a flat surface and turn it on. This lets the gyroscope figure out what being level and steady means.

Setting Up the Gyroscope: After getting it ready, you might need to set it up. How you do this can be different for each drone, so look at your drone's instructions to see exactly how. Usually, you'll have to move your drone in certain ways so the gyroscope understands which way it's facing.

Making Sure It's Ready: After you've done these steps, you should check if everything is working right. You can tell by seeing how the drone flies and responds when you control it. If it's not flying well or goes off to one side, you might have to set up the gyroscope again.

Keep Checking: Setting up the gyroscope isn't just a one-time thing. You should keep checking and adjusting it, especially if your drone starts flying weirdly or if it crashes or hits something hard.

Propeller and Motor Inspection

Let's make sure the propellers and motors on your drone are working well. Checking these parts often is important for a smooth and safe flight. Here's a simple way to look them over:

Looking at the Propellers:

Look at Each One: Take a good look at every propeller. Check for any signs of damage like scratches, cracks, or bends. Small damages can really affect how your drone flies.

How They're Attached: Make sure each propeller is on right. They shouldn't be too loose or too tight. They need to be just snug enough.

Checking the Motors:

Listen for Weird Sounds: Turn on your drone and listen. If you hear any grinding or buzzing from the motors, that's not a good sign.

Look for Stuff Stuck in Them: Sometimes things like dust or small bits can get stuck in the motors, especially if you've crashed or flown in a dusty place. If you see anything stuck, carefully take it out.

Testing the Propeller Shafts:

Spin Them: Turn each propeller with your hand to see if it spins smoothly. If it's hard to spin or feels bumpy, there might be a problem with the propeller shaft or the motor.

Check if They're Straight: The shafts that the propellers are on should be perfectly straight. If they're bent, your drone might fly weirdly or shake.

Making Sure the Motors Work Right:

All Spin the Same: Watch to see if all the motors spin at the same speed and respond the same when you use the controls. If they don't, there could be an issue.

Not Too Hot: After flying, feel if any motor is really hot. Motors that get too hot might be working too hard or have another problem.

Identifying and Repairing Wiring Issues

Wiring issues in your drone can be a bit complicated, but fixing them is important for your drone to work right. Here's how to find and fix these electrical problems.

Repairing Wiring Issues

Looking at the Wires:

Start with the Outside: First, check all the wires you can see without opening the drone. Look for any signs of damage like cuts, fraying, or wear. Wires on the outside can get damaged easily, especially if your drone has crashed.

Check Inside: If the outside wires look okay, you might need to open up the drone to check inside. This could mean taking some parts off, depending on your drone. Look for wires that are not connected properly or are damaged.

Finding Common Problems:

Wires That Have Come Loose: Sometimes, the drone's vibrations can make wires come loose. Make sure all the wire connections are tight.

Wires That are Frayed: Check for wires that are worn out or showing metal. These can be dangerous because they might cause a short circuit. They need to be fixed right away.

Fixing Broken Wires:

Reconnect Loose Wires: If you find a wire that's come loose, carefully put it back in place. If you're not sure how to do this, it might be better to get help from someone who knows about drone repairs.

Replace Bad Wires: If a wire is frayed or really damaged, you should replace it. This can be a tricky job, so if you're not used to fixing electrical things, it's a good idea to get professional help.

Testing After Fixing:

Turn It On and Check: After you fix anything, turn on your drone and test it where it's safe. Look for any strange behaviour or signs that there might still be a problem.

Try a Short Flight: If everything seems okay when you turn it on, try a quick, controlled flight to make sure everything is working as it should.

Keeping Wires Safe:

Regular Checks: Make it a habit to check the wires often as part of taking care of your drone.

Be Careful: Handle your drone gently when you're flying it and when you're looking at the wires to avoid damage.

When to Get Help:

If you're not sure about the wiring problem or if it seems really complicated, it's best to ask a professional for help. Wiring can be complex and sometimes you need someone with special knowledge to fix it.

Motor Functionality and Maintenance

Keeping your drone's motors working well is super important. They're what make your drone fly! Here's how to take care of them and make sure they're in good shape.

Motor Functionality

Regularly Checking the Motors:

Look at Them: First, just look at the motors. Check for any damage, signs of wear, or if they look like they've gotten too hot. Damage to the motors can really affect how your drone flies.

Clear Out Debris: Make sure there's nothing like little sticks, dust, or fibers stuck in the motors. Stuff like this can stop the motors from working right and might even damage them.

Listening to the Motors:

Listen When They're On: Turn on your drone and listen to the motors. If they make weird noises like grinding or screeching, there might be something wrong inside.

All Should Sound the Same: All the motors should sound similar. If one sounds different from the others, that could mean there's a problem.

Making Sure They Work Smoothly:

Spin Them: Gently spin each motor with your hand. They should spin easily without any rough or sticky spots.

Check for Overheating: After flying, touch the motors carefully. They'll be warm, but they shouldn't be super hot. If they are, it could mean they're being overworked or there's another issue.

Cleaning and Upkeep:

Clean Them Regularly: Keep the motors free of dust and dirt. You can use a soft brush or some compressed air to clean around the motor and its parts.

Maybe Lubricate: Depending on your drone, you might need to put some lubricant on the motors from time to time. Look at your drone's manual to see if this is something you should do.

Fixing Motor Problems:

Remove Any Debris: If you find stuff tangled in the motors, carefully take it out with tweezers or a similar tool. Be careful not to damage the motor.

Get Help if Needed: If you think a motor is broken or not working right, it's usually best to ask a professional for help, especially if you're not used to fixing drones.

How do you fix a drone rotor?

Cleaning Debris: First, try cleaning out any debris that might be stuck in the drone's rotor. Things like dirt or small bits can stop the propeller from spinning.

Check and Tighten Screws: Also, check the screws on the drone and tighten them if they're loose. This can help reduce shaking and let the propeller spin better.

Motor Shaft Issues: If the motor shaft (the part that the propeller attaches to) is bent, you might need to straighten it. But if you can't fix it, you might find a new motor shaft at a store that sells drone parts.

Replacing the Motor: However, if you don't usually fix drones and don't have spare parts, it might be easier to just replace the whole motor. Drone motors aren't usually very expensive, and it can be hard to find the small parts you need.

drone rotor

Prevent Excessive Shaking: Another thing to remember is to keep the drone from shaking too much. Make sure the screws that attach the motor to the drone's body are tight. This helps the propeller spin the way it should.

Differentiating Screws: But remember, these screws are different from the ones on the propeller itself. The motor needs to be attached firmly but still be able to spin freely.

Lubrication: Sometimes, adding a bit of lubricant to the motor can help it spin better.

If you need more help, there's a YouTube video that shows you how to replace a drone motor. It's also useful for putting the motor back in after you've fixed it. 

How do you clean a drone motor?

Cleaning a drone motor can be pretty simple. You can wash it with water without taking it apart. Just make it spin for a bit to help it dry, and then leave it to dry completely. But, if it's really dirty, you might want to open it up and clean it more thoroughly.

For a deeper clean, you can use compressed air, rubbing alcohol, and a brush. Taking the motor apart takes more time, but it lets you clean every part really well. Compressed air blows away the dirt, and rubbing alcohol helps clean it.

After cleaning, you can use a bit of oil to lubricate the motor before putting it back together.

If you're using water, be careful not to get any on the electronic parts. Dry the motor well with a cloth, especially the bearings, before you put the propeller back on.

Remember, you don't need to clean the motors all the time. Just a quick dust-off is fine unless you notice a problem.

For a better understanding of how to do this, you can watch a YouTube video that shows the steps. 

How do I test a drone propeller?

If you're not sure if one of your drone's propellers is spinning slower than the others, you can check them one at a time. Here's a simple way to do it.

To test a drone propeller, you'll need a few things: an electronic scale, the arms of the drone frame, a motor, an Electronic Speed Controller (ESC), and a Power Distribution Board (PDB), along with some small tools. First, attach the motor to the drone's frame arms, and then fix these arms onto the scale. Next, put the propeller on the motor and connect everything with wires so you can get a reading from the scale.

You'll use a radio transmitter to make the propeller spin. When it does, the scale will show a value. Write this value down, then try the same test with a different propeller or motor.

This kind of test isn't just for checking propeller speed. It's also used to improve things like how long the drone can fly, how far it can go, and how much it can carry.

It can be a bit tricky to connect the wires from the ESC and the PDB to the motor. But don't worry, there's a YouTube tutorial that shows you exactly how to do it, including what little bits and pieces you need to put everything together.  

Conclusion

In conclusion, fixing a drone propeller that won't spin isn't as daunting as it seems. From my own experiences, the key is to regularly check and maintain your drone. This includes ensuring the battery is fully charged, removing any debris, and making sure everything is calibrated and connected properly. 

If you're still having trouble, don't hesitate to replace parts like the motor or seek professional help. Remember, a well-maintained drone leads to smoother flights and fewer surprises. Keep these tips in mind, and you'll be back to enjoying your drone adventures in no time!

faq what should you look for in a drone

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section we'll answer all questions related to the above article:

Can a drone fly with a broken propeller?

No, a drone can't fly properly with a broken propeller. It needs all propellers in good shape to fly smoothly and safely.

Which direction does a drone propeller rotate?

Drone propellers rotate in two directions. Some spin clockwise and others spin counterclockwise. This helps keep the drone stable and allows it to move correctly.

Do propeller guards work on drones?

Yes, propeller guards work on drones. They help protect the propellers from damage, especially if you accidentally bump into things or during rough landings.

What does a bad propeller look like?

A bad propeller might have cracks, chips, or bent edges. It might also look worn out. Any of these signs mean the propeller isn't in good shape.

What can damage a propeller?

Propellers can be damaged by hitting things like walls, trees, or the ground. They can also wear out over time with regular use, or get damaged if the drone crashes or has a hard landing.

author-paul-posea-picture
Hi, I'm Paul.
A big drone enthusiast, reviewing, comparing and writing about drones since 2015. I'm all about helping people enjoy and even monetize their hobby.

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paul posea
Paul Posea
Hi, I'm a long-time drone reviewer and I hope my articles and comparisons on this site as well as Dronesgator's youtube channel are of as much help as possible.
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