1. Have you wound up your clock and started the pendulum?
Clocks have either a swinging pendulum or a rotating balance wheel to regulate time keeping. Find out by taking a peek through the back door of your clock. If you don't see a pendulum attached to the back of your clock movement, then your clock is regulated by a balance wheel. The pendulum/balance wheel is driven by a powerful spring. First, be sure that you have wound up the pendulum spring. Wind it up all the way. It is a myth that you can damage a clock by over winding. This is nonsense unless you choose to attach a pipe wrench to the end of your winding key! If your clock has more than one spring, and your not sure which arbor operates the pendulum, then wind them all up! Next, reach into the clock and gently swing the pendulum to one side with your hand. Your clock should now be up and running! If your clock has a balance wheel, all you need to do is wind up your clock, and the wheel should automatically start ticking.
2. Are the clock hands touching?
Touching hands are guaranteed to stop your clock! Look at the hour and minute hands closely. If they are touching, the movement is jammed and the pendulum won't swing. Solution: Try moving the hour hand slightly back and forth while pushing it towards the dial in order to clear the minute hand (but make sure it doesn't touch the dial! This will also cause the clock to stop.). If they still touch, you can bend back the minute hand slightly towards you, allowing clearance.
2. Have you moved your clock?
The reason a clock with a pendulum stops swinging after being moved is because the clock case now leans at a slightly different angle then at its former location and the clock is now “out of beat”.
Clock movements are adjusted so that their pendulums swing properly when the clock case is placed on a level surface. However, over time clock cases warp, or the adjustment has changed. So put away your level! Solution: Simply start your pendulum swinging and listen carefully to the tick-toc sound. Lift the left side of the clock slightly. Does the tick-toc sound seem more balanced? If not, lift the right side. When you hear an even, balanced ticking, simply shim the bottom of the clock at that angle your clock should now be in perfect "beat". There is a way to make an adjustment in the clock to achieve the same thing, but is best left to a clock repairman. The term tick-toc really should be TICK-TICK because the goal if to have a pendulum swing that is equal to the left and to the right. If your clock has a balance wheel instead of a pendulum, you’re in luck! You don't have to worry whether the clock is level at all!
3. Has your clock been cleaned in the last 7 years?
This is VERY important! A clock must be cleaned every 6-7 years, 10 years at the very latest. Why? Well the clock oils only last that long plus they have attracted dirt over all those years. If you think about it, a clock is wound every 7 days which is over 350 times. Each time the case is opened, it allows even more dirt/dust inside. The oils begin to dry out and get clogged up by the dirt. If this situation is not remedied, it will begin to wear out the clock movement and require a greater amount of repair.
Caution: You cannot clean a clock in the home. Never apply oils like “3 in 1” or WD-40. Clocks require special oils designed for clocks. You cannot “clean” it with a air hose either! Take the clock to a professional clock repairman that has the proper tools and knowledge to disassemble and repair your clock. And beware of the amateurs out there. Many of them lack the proper tools and use the forbidden methods I have just outlined.