Howard Miller Grandfather Clock Troubleshooting

Howard Miller Grandfather Clock Troubleshooting - Premier Clocks

Howard Miller grandfather clocks are famous for their exceptional quality that can become a family heirloom and being passed from generation to generation. However, there is a chance that even the best of the clocks can face some difficulties throughout their lifetime.

A simple clock issue can confuse owners as it being broken. For example, the mechanism of a grandfather clock can be damaged during the moving process, or some adjustments are needed if the clock is placed on uneven floor.

➤ Check out a full selection of Grandfather Clocks at Premier Clocks.

Premier Clocks has collected the most common issues that a grandfather clock can have and how to troubleshoot them. There will be some clock related terminology, please check out blog post about The Terminology and Parts Of A Grandfather Clock.


How to Fix Issues with the Grandfather Clock Pendulum

There are several reasons why the pendulum stopped swinging. If you are not familiar with what a pendulum is, you can read about it here.

When the pendulum works correctly, it should make an even "tick-tock" beat sound. If you hear that the space between "tick" and "tock" is not even, it means that the clock is out of beat. Check the video below about how to adjust the pendulum of Howard Miller grandfather clocks.

One of the problems can be related to a weighted hammer. You need to check if it is positioned properly. Make sure that an upper part of the body is in the center and if it is not, adjust it with your hand. The pendulum should be swinging freely without touching the chime rods or weights. Here is the detailed guide on How to Hang a Grandfather Clock Pendulum.

If the pendulum touches the weights or chime rods, it stops working. It means that there is an issue with leveling. The clock has to be adjusted from front to back or side to side. Howard Miller grandfather clocks have 4 adjustable levelers on the bottom corners making the adjustment an easy process.


Troubleshooting Issues with the Weights

Each weight has a different task and it is crucial that they are placed correctly. There is a guide on Grandfather Clock Weight Functions and Placement.A common issue with the weights is that they are not positioned in correct places.

Usually, the weights should be marked with L (left), C (center) or R (right) on the bottom with where it should be positioned. Note that you should be facing the grandfather clock when determine left, center and right.

If there are no marks, you can hang the weights depending on how heavy they are. When facing the grandfather clock, the heaviest weight should be on the right, the second heaviest - in the middle, and the least heavy goes on the left.

Another issue that might arise is that theweights do not drop at the same level. However, when the automatic nighttime shutoff feature is selected, and on some models the “silent” feature, it is normal that the center weight will drop at a faster rate than the other weights.

To avoid some of the issues, the weights must be raised every week to ensure that the clock continues running and keeping time. Check How to Wind a Grandfather Clock for detailed instructions.


How to Troubleshoot Issues with the Chimes and Strickes

One of the most popular question from the grandfather clock owners is about why a grandfather clock does not chime at proper time.

➤ Learn more about Clock Melodies: Clocks Chime History and Sounds

If the grandfather clock chimes more than one minute before or after the proper time, the minute hand should be removed and adjusted. Below are the instructions but when performing this operation be careful not to scratch the hand nut, hand or dial.

1. When the grandfather clock starts to chime, stop the pendulum and record the time.

2. Using pliers, carefully remove the small nut that holds the minute hand in place by turning the nut counterclockwise while at the same time hold the minute hand with your fingers near the small nut.

3. Remove the hand from the hand shaft by grasping it with your fingers at the point where it attaches to the shaft. Pull the hand straight off. This hand is not screwed on and should come off easily. The minute hand has a small raised area on the back side directly around the shaft hole, this is the hand bushing. Using pliers, grip the bushing firmly by its sides so that it cannot slip in the pliers. With your other hand, turn the clock hand forward or backward the distance necessary to chime at the correct time.

4. Re-attach the hand to the shaft and turn the hand nut finger tight. Make sure the hand points to the correct location that you recorded in Step 1 plus any corrections you made in step 3. If the hand does not point to the correct mark, repeat steps 2 and 3. 

5. Snug up the hand nut with the pliers. Do not over tighten.

6. Start pendulum.

7. Re-set the time by moving only the minute hand counterclockwise (backwards) as described here.

EXAMPLE: Grandfather clock chimes at 1:10 but should chime at 1:15.

Step 1: When grandfather clock chimes at 1:10 stop the pendulum and record the time of 1:10.
Step 2: Carefully remove the small nut. 
Step 3: Remove the minute hand. Grip the
bushing by its sides and turn the hand forward 5 minutes. 
Step 4: Reattach the hand so it points to 1:15. Attach the hand nut finger tight. 
Step 5: Snug up the hand nut. 
Step 6: Start pendulum. 

Step 7: Reset grandfather clock to current time.

If your clock does not strike the correct hour, grasp the hour hand only and move it forward or backward to line up with the correct hour on the dial indicated by the number of times the hour strikes. Rotating this hand independently will not damage the clock. If the minute hand needs to be reset (to correct time), move the minute hand counterclockwise (backwards) as described here.

What to do if a grandfather clock will not chime or strike.Make sure that the selection lever is not in the “silent” position or halfway between two chime melody positions. Make sure that all the packing material is removed from the movement area. Make sure that the weights are hanging in the correct location by checking the label on the bottom of each weight to ensure proper location. For models with nighttime silencing, make sure that the grandfather clock isn't in the nighttime silence mode. Check hammer adjustment and correct chime tone as necessary.

Move the chime selection lever to a different melody or to “silent”. It is possible that the styrofoam blocks located above the cable pulleys are binding the cable. Carefully remove the styrofoam blocks by lifting the blocks straight up until they clear the cable pulley. Then gently push them back through the cables. Don't use tools to remove the blocks. Don't permit the cable to overlap on the drum.


What to Do when the Issues with the Clock Dial Occur

Examine the dial on the grandfather clock and look at the hour and minute hands to make sure they do not touch or hang on any part of the dial (for example, each other, the dial or the glass pane, etc.). If they touch any part of the dial, you need carefully readjust one or both hands to create enough clearance between the parts.

First, try to move the hour hand in the opposite direction of the object they touch. In case it is impossible to fix with readjusting only an hour hand, you can move the minute hand too. The most important thing to remember is that you need to be extremely careful and avoid touching the dial during this process.


How to Set and Adjust the Moon Dial

The dial is probably the most mysterious part of a grandfather clock and it raises many questions.

If there is a difficulty to rotate the moon dial of your grandfather clock, this can be an indication that the gears which automatically advance the moon dial are engaged. To correct this situation, rotate the minute hand backward 3-1/2 hours as described here, set the moon dial, and then reset the time. In case this does not help, follow the instructions below.

Face the clock and remove the top side panel. Open the door on the side or remove the panel from the back access section. Look inside at the back side of thedial to locate the click spring. Place your pointer finger on the tip of the click spring. Pull the spring 1/2-inch back, and then quickly release it. Watch to see if the click spring and saw tooth moon dial snap into alignment. Never force the moon dial if it doesn’t work after this adjustment. Rotate the minute hand backward 3 hours.


How to Replace Quartz Movement in a Modern Grandfather Clock


Despite the common opinion that grandfather clocks are fragile, they in fact are quite durable pieces. And some of the problems can be easily fixed. But if you try to fix an issue and it does not seem to work, we recommend to call a professional clockmaster to repair your grandfather clock.

7 Responses

Premier Clocks
Premier Clocks

March 26, 2024

Hello Chuc!

Thank you for reaching out. Unfortunately, without seeing a clock mechanism, it’s hard to tell what the problem is. It’s better to take a clock to a professional. Please, check at Howard Miller website the official repair centers.

Best wishes,
Premier Clocks

Chuc Nguyen
Chuc Nguyen

March 26, 2024

My grandfather clock strike fine from every hour 1pm-8pm. From 9pm-12am it will only strike 8 times each hour. It’s a 17 year old Howard Miller Stewart Floor model. What could be the problem?

Alvin K Fleming
Alvin K Fleming

March 26, 2024

I have had my clock for over 20 years, my clock stopped chimimg a few days ago, what can I do?


December 16, 2023

i might have a weight. i have a couple silver ones here as spares. how heavy is yours?

Ray Johnson
Ray Johnson

May 15, 2023

Our Grandfather clock stops at 11.55 I have been advised that this is a known problem and is due to a pin in the movement which becomes bent. Which pin and where?

Premier Clocks
Premier Clocks

March 05, 2023

Hi Julie! At this time, Premier Clocks do not sell replacement parts.

Best wishes,
Premier Clocks


March 05, 2023

Can I buy a replacement weight. The hook on the top is broken

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