Whether you will need to oil your ceiling fan will depend on the type of fan purchased. In other words, some manufacturers produce fans needing oil while some do not. Even with those that do not require special oiling, remember that a fan is designed with moving parts and those will need lubrication. For this reason, if you purchase a fan that states it is permanently sealed, meaning it does not require oiling, you may find that on occasion, the bearings might in the future need some lubrication.
If you purchase a fan that requires oiling, this would need to be done on a scheduled basis. Typically, once a year is sufficient to keep the fan in top operation form. When shopping around for a new ceiling fan, you should pay close attention to this information, which is often posted on the box somewhere. If not, you can visit the fan manufacturer's website to do further research.
Additionally, fans that were produced prior to 1970 will probably need regular oiling whereas most of the newer models do not. If you have an older fan and you find that it is making noise or not operating smoothly, it likely needs to be oiled. For this, you need to look for a hole located on the top of the motor housing, usually close to the down rod, where the oil would go. If you are fortunate enough, the fan may still have its label showing the exact spot.
One of the differences with older ceiling fans needing oil opposed to new models is that they were often made from cast iron. This means in addition to the fan being heavier, it is also made from materials that need oil. You will also discover that while some of these fans are easy to oil, others are difficult. For instance, if the fan has a design where all of the motor house holds the motor, you would likely have easy access to the hole. However, if the fan design is one where the motor has sealed bearings, getting to the hole where oil is added can be quite the challenge.
Of course, if you have a newer fan or one that simply does not require oil, you may still find that over time, the bearings begin to dry out. In this case, you can lubricate the bearings while helping to eliminate the buildup of dirty or gunk by adding oil. Most often, you would notice these fans making a ticking or rubbing noise, the blades not turning freely by hand, or slow operation.
If this happens, be sure to use 10, 15, or 20-weight, non-detergent motor oil. Additionally, you need to stay away from three-in-one oils, as well as WD40. Instead, visit your local automotive parts store, asking for a lightweight and non-detergent oil, buying the smallest quantity possible. To get the oil to the bearings, you can use a small syringe, carefully inserting a few drops at a time, followed by turning the blades to get the oil spread out evenly.