Troubleshooting your Howard Miller Clock

by Gregory Burton

Troubleshooting your Howard Miller Clock

Howard Miller Clocks are elegant timepieces that are built to last. But even the best clocks will experience some hiccups over the years. If your clock is suddenly out of tune or the pendulum isn’t operating as it should, here are a few tips that could help you get it back into proper working order:

Troubleshooting the Weights

Weights play a crucial role in the operation of a grandfather clock. If they are not functioning correctly, your clock may stop working or run erratically. 

Ensure the weights are hung on the correct pulleys: 

  1. The heaviest weight usually goes on the right side,
  2. The lightest on the left, and
  3. The middle weight is in the center. 

If the weights are in the correct positions but the clock still doesn't function properly, check for obstructions in the weight chains or cables. Ensure they are free of knots and properly aligned. Occasionally, the chains or cables can become tangled, preventing the weights from moving freely. This can halt the clock's operation entirely.

Issues with Chimes & Strikes

If your clock's chimes and strikes are not sounding at the correct times, it may need to be reset. 

  1. Move the minute hand forward to the next quarter hour and listen for the chime. 
  2. Repeat this process until the clock chimes correctly on the hour. 
  3. If the clock is still out of sync, the position of the minute hand might need to be adjusted. 
  4. Remove the hand and place it back so it points to the correct time when the clock chimes. 

Sometimes, the chime sequence can be disrupted if the clock is wound too tightly or too loosely. Regularly checking and adjusting the tension can help maintain the correct chime sequence.

Issues with the Moon Dial

The moon dial on a grandfather clock adds an extra layer of elegance, but it can also be a source of confusion if it isn't working correctly. 

First, ensure that the moon dial is properly aligned with the current lunar phase. If it's off, manually advance the moon dial by turning it slowly in the clockwise direction. Do not force it, as this could damage the mechanism. The moon dial is delicate, and any rough handling can misalign the gears. Checking the alignment every few months and making slight adjustments can keep the moon dial accurate as needed.

Troubleshooting a Clock That Isn't Striking the Hour

If your clock is not striking the hour:

  1. Check if the hour strike weight is properly positioned and not obstructed. 
  2. Ensure the clock hands are not touching each other or the clock face. 
  3. Next, check the strike mechanism for dust or debris that could be causing it to malfunction. 
  4. Lightly dust and clean the mechanism if necessary. 

If these steps don't resolve the issue, the clock may need professional servicing to repair the strike mechanism. Sometimes, the issue can be as simple as the strike lever being slightly out of place. A gentle adjustment might get it back on track.

Fixing a Pendulum That Has Stopped Swinging

If your pendulum keeps stopping, check the levelness of your clock. An uneven surface can cause the pendulum to stop. Adjust the clock's position until it is perfectly level. Additionally, inspect the pendulum for any damage or obstructions. If the pendulum is bent or obstructed, it may need to be repaired or replaced. 

You may also want to consider the clock's environment; vibrations from nearby appliances or heavy foot traffic can disrupt the pendulum's motion. Placing the clock in a quieter, more stable location can help.

Fixing Clock Hands That Are Not Moving

If the clock hands are not moving, they may be loose or stuck. 

  1. Carefully remove the clock hands and inspect them for any bends or damage. 
  2. Straighten them if necessary, then reattach them firmly. 
  3. Ensure they are not touching each other or the clock face. 

If the hands are still not moving, the problem might be within the clock mechanism itself, requiring professional attention.

Fixing a Clock That Keeps Stopping

A clock that keeps stopping might have an issue with its movement. Ensure the clock is wound properly and that the weights are in their correct positions. Check for any obstructions or debris in the clock mechanism. If the clock continues to stop, professional servicing may be required to identify and fix the underlying issue. It's also important to consider the clock's placement. Drafty areas or direct sunlight can affect the internal temperature and humidity, impacting the clock's performance.

Cleaning Your Howard Miller Clock

Howard Miller Grandfather clocks are not just timekeepers; they are pieces of art that add a touch of elegance to any room. However, like any other fine piece of furniture, they can collect dust and debris over time, impacting their ability to function properly. Regular cleaning is essential to ensure that your clock continues to operate smoothly and maintains its aesthetic appeal.

Routine Cleaning Steps:

  • Weekly Winding: Wind the clock every 7 days to ensure it remains in good working order.
  • Exterior Cleaning: Use a soft cloth to gently wipe down the clock's exterior. Avoid harsh chemicals that could damage the finish. Instead, use designated wax and polish designed for fine wood and metal surfaces.
  • Interior Dusting: Periodically open the clock’s casing to remove internal dust. This helps prevent dust buildup that can interfere with the mechanism. A small, soft brush or a can of compressed air can be useful for this task.
  • Glass Care: Clean the glass panels with a glass cleaner, but be careful not to let any cleaner drip into the clock’s interior. Use a soft cloth to avoid scratching the glass.
  • Ensuring Dust-Free Environment: Ensure the door of the clock is closed and locked to prevent dirt and dust from entering. This simple step can go a long way in maintaining the clock’s cleanliness.

Maintenance of Your Howard Miller Clock

Regular maintenance is crucial for keeping your Howard Miller clock in optimal working condition. Without proper maintenance, dust, debris, and a lack of lubrication can cause the clock to malfunction or stop working altogether.

Key Maintenance Activities:

  • Lubrication: One of the most important aspects of clock maintenance is ensuring that all moving parts are properly lubricated. This prevents wear and tear and ensures smooth operation. Use high-quality clock oil and apply it sparingly to the designated points on the clock’s movement.
  • Inspection: Regularly inspect your clock for any signs of wear or damage. Look for loose or worn-out parts and ensure that the clock’s hands are not touching each other or the clock face. Check the weights and pulleys for correct alignment and smooth operation.
  • Adjustments: Over time, you may need to make small adjustments to keep your clock running accurately. This includes leveling the clock to ensure the pendulum swings evenly and adjusting the hands to prevent them from sticking.
  • Environmental Control: Clocks are sensitive to their environment. Keep your clock in a stable environment, away from direct sunlight, excessive heat, or moisture. This helps prevent the wood from warping and the metal parts from rusting.
  • Professional Check-Ups: Schedule a biannual check-up with a professional clockmaker. A professional can perform a thorough inspection, cleaning, and oiling of the clock’s movement and address any potential issues before they become major problems.

Frankenmuth Clock Company has you covered for all of your clock-related needs, including repairs and maintenance of Howard Miller Clocks. Contact us today to learn more.

Servicing Your Howard Miller Clock

While regular cleaning and maintenance can address many issues, professional servicing is sometimes necessary to keep your Howard Miller clock in peak condition. Over time, even the best-maintained clocks may require more extensive care.

When to Seek Professional Servicing:

  • Complex Repairs: If your clock has stopped working or is not keeping accurate time despite regular maintenance, it may require professional servicing. Issues such as broken springs, worn gears, or damaged pendulums often need a professional touch.
  • Deep Cleaning: A professional can perform a deep cleaning of the clock’s movement, removing old oil and grime that regular cleaning can’t reach. This involves disassembling the clock movement, cleaning each part, and then reassembling it.
  • Recalibration: Over time, a clock may fall out of calibration. Professional servicing includes recalibrating the clock to ensure it keeps accurate time and chimes correctly.
  • Preventative Maintenance: Even if your clock appears to be running well, professional servicing every few years can prevent major issues from developing. A professional can spot potential problems early and address them before they become serious.
  • Restoration: Professional restoration can preserve and enhance the beauty and functionality of antique or heirloom clocks. This may include refinishing the wood, replacing worn or broken parts, and ensuring the clock looks and operates like new.

At Frankenmuth Clock Company, we offer comprehensive service packages that include cleaning, oiling, and detailed inspections to keep your clock in perfect working order. Our team of experts is trained to handle a wide range of issues, from simple adjustments to complex repairs. By entrusting your timepiece to us, you can be confident that it will continue to grace your home with its timeless charm and reliable performance for generations to come. Contact us today to learn more about our servicing options. Also, if you are interested in purchasing a Howard Miller clock, we carry a wide selection.