Have you ever stood in front of a fan and talked into it while it was running? It makes a vibrating sound. That same sound is what you will hear when ceiling fans are placed near the pipes in a pipe organ. In many sanctuaries, ceiling fans are utilized in both winter and summer months to help circulate the air for the comfort of the congregation. What many people do not know is that when a ceiling fan is turned on while the pipe organ is in use, it creates the sound of a Tremolo. We have had many instances where we have just completed a tuning and maintenance visit and, the very next day, we receive a call stating that this same pipe organ is way out of tune. Upon arrival for a second service visit, we discover that they have turned the ceiling fans on. When the ceiling fans are on, they disturb the pitch of the organ causing it to sound out of tune.
It is not recommended to install ceiling fans anywhere near the pipe organ (at least twenty feet away), but if they are already in existence, the best piece of advice we can give you is to shut them off during a worship service or anytime the pipe organ is going to be in use. Possibly installing a separate switch for those near the pipe organ would be an option, that way you could still use the ones not in close proximity to the pipes.