How To Check Your Extractor Fan Fuse

Extractor fans, while often overlooked, are vital to the health of your home (and your nose). They whisk away unpleasant scents and, more importantly, moisture. If your extractor fan has gone out, you’re likely wondering how to fix it – don’t worry, DreamyHome has your back. An extractor fan fuse can certainly go out, but it’s not likely what you’re thinking.

An extractor fan fuse can blow due to 4 likely reasons: short circuits, defective motors, overloaded circuits, or installing the wrong fuse.

Let’s talk a bit more about that, shall we?

Extractor Fan Basics

Let’s start with what can cause an extractor fan fuse to blow. There are quite a few reasons that could cause it, but to recap, the 4 most likely ones are:

  1. Short circuits
  2. Defective motors
  3. Overloaded circuits
  4. Wrong fuse

Let’s break it down a bit more, and it’ll be much more clear.

Short Circuits

Just like with all other electronics, extractor fans are fully capable of short circuiting. Whether it’s caused by damaged or loose wiring or a fault in another device, it’s never fun. So what are the specific causes for most short circuits?

Arc or Ground Fault

There are two types of short circuits called “faults” that are more likely than others here. The first is a ground fault, and the second an arc fault. The former is usually caused by damaged wiring that allows a current to go somewhere it shouldn’t (like the ground, hence the name). The latter, on the other hand, is generally caused by a surge of electricity between two conductive materials.

With ground faults, you run a higher risk of electrocution in the bathroom. This is because they can be caused by moisture coming into contact with damaged wiring – something that’s very likely in a bathroom. Arc faults, on the other hand, are pretty much always dangerous. That’s because they can happen without you noticing, inside the circuitry itself.

Really the only way to determine this is the cause of your fan issues safely is to hire an electrician. That is, of course, unless you’re either reckless or experienced with wiring. You can turn off the power to your fan and inspect the interior for damaged wiring, but beyond that, the job is best left to the professionals. Electrocution is no joke, and you don’t want to be that guy that was killed by a bathroom fan.

Defective Motors

Another common reason for an extractor fan fuse blowing is a defective motor. This is common in pretty much all fans because, well, motors have a lifespan. When they go past that lifespan, they fail or cause issues – it’s just a fact of life.

Whether that means it’s a jammed motor, just dirty, or it has damaged or rusted bearings (also common in bathrooms because of moisture) it’s going to need to be replaced. Ignoring a dead motor can lead to worse performance, wasted power, blown fuses, and worst of all – electrical fires. To fix a defective motor, you need to do one thing – replace it.

I know, I’m your saviour, you never would have thought of it without me! All jokes aside, it’s a pretty simple fix. Replace the fan entirely, or find a replacement motor. Either way – don’t ignore it when your home tells you something is wrong. If you’re tight on money, you can try to give the fan a thorough cleaning, though this will only work in certain instances caused by grime buildup.

Overloaded Circuits

This is a pretty simple and obvious cause of an extractor fan blowing its fuse. When too much is going on in one circuit, it overloads. It could be caused by too many things being on the same circuit, but it can also happen due to a low-capacity circuit being used for things it shouldn’t (like running a fan/light combo).

To fix an overloaded circuit, you need to pay attention to what you have plugged in where. Whether that means moving a few appliances or unplugging everything that’s not actively in use, it will fix the issue.

And before you ask – yes, the above picture is an example of what happens when a circuit overloads. So yeah, they’re no joke.

Wrong Fuse

Now hopefully, you didn’t do this. That’s not to say that it couldn’t happen, because it does all the time, but I’m hoping for your sake that at least you didn’t personally install it. That would be embarrassing…

Fuses are rated for specific power (amperage) levels, and when installed in a circuit that’s too strong, it will overload and blow. If you notice a fuse blowing repeatedly, this is the most likely cause.

To fix it, just install the right fuse! Installing a fuse that’s rated too high for the circuit can actually be quite dangerous, so be careful. It won’t flip when there’s too much happening, which can lead to increased electrical flow through circuits that aren’t designed for it. On the other hand, installing a fuse that’s rated lower than your circuit just won’t fix the issue. It will continue to blow as soon as it activates – which is what we’re trying to avoid. So be smart – read up and measure your outlet’s amperage before buying and installing a fuse yourself. And if you can’t (or refuse to) do that, please – hire a professional.

Extractor Fan Fuse, Advanced: Fan Isolators

Now, this is a common mistake that’s actually very dangerous. When some people notice their fan fuse blowing repeatedly, they try to do some sleuthing. This, on its own, is not a bad thing – you’re taking care of your home, just like you should. The problem comes into play when untrained amateurs try to do the job of a professional.

What I’m talking about, of course, are fan isolators. To the untrained eye, they can appear just like a fuse box that’s separate from the main. They’re installed (usually near the bathroom) to allow your fan to be switched off without turning off the whole circuit. They generally contain a small plastic piece with a gap in the middle. While it looks like a fuse, it’s a permanently live circuit. Short of cutting the power to that whole section of your home, it’ll always be on.

The mistake I mentioned is that people try to pry out what they think is the fuse, ending up getting electrocuted in the process. And again, we come back to the same point – If you’re not a trained electrician, hire one! It can save your life.

Final Thoughts

Figuring out what’s causing your extractor fan fuse to blow can be a hassle. There is so much that could go wrong that it can be overwhelming. Luckily, you came to the right place! Remember to inspect your fan (with the power off) for damaged wiring, a buildup of dirt, and a faulty motor. Each of these things can easily cause a fuse to blow.

The other important thing to keep an eye out is the type of fuse you installed in the circuit. The wrong amperage fuse can not only cause issues, but be actively dangerous. In case you can’t tell, the primary message of this article is to hire professionals when needed. Your pride and “handyperson” reputation aren’t worth electrocution, let alone death. So please, let the professionals do their job, and you do yours – keep the home running and safe.

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About the Author Harry Thompson

Involved in home renovations throughout his life, Harry is an expert in everything to do with home and garden DIY. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and tending to his garden.