My Fan Stopped Working – What Now?

Your desk fan stopped working, huh? The best part about this is it’s often at the worst time imaginable. Generally, they’re used when your room is unbearably hot – which means that trying to fix it is made that much harder by the heat. When trying to think in extreme heat, things often get difficult – and that’s okay. Luckily, you don’t have to think, thanks to us!

If your fan stopped working, the best thing to do is to start by double-checking that it’s fully plugged in and that no breakers have tripped in your home. If that doesn’t fix it, it’s time to give your fan a clean and check its parts for wear or damage.

Luckily, this is all rather easy to do, and you shouldn’t need to hire a professional to help. This is, of course, assuming that your fan is just a standard home fan and not an industrial-strength one. Now let’s get into the details, shall we?

Getting Started

First things first, we’ll start with the easiest and most obvious fixes. If these fixes solve your problem, fear not! We won’t tell anyone if you don’t, either. Now let’s look at the most common solutions to a fan that’s stopped working.

  1. Is it fully plugged in? I know, it seems so obvious that I shouldn’t even be asking. Let me ask you something really quick, though – how many times have you had an electronic stop working only to find out it got pulled out of the socket at some point? Yeah, that’s what I thought – too many times to comfortably admit. So go look at your plugin, make sure the tines of your plug aren’t bent, and then come back. Did it work? If not, move down the list.
  2. Did you trip a breaker? This is a great place to look before trying to disassemble your fan or interrogating it to see where it’s keeping your beautiful, cool air. Especially if your fan isn’t tied to a surge protector or power strip, this should always be your first stop for any electronic that stops working suddenly. If the breaker is flipped, consider moving the fan to another outlet on a different circuit to make things easier on your home.
  3. How old is your fan? This is an unfortunate fact of life – electronics die, just like everything else. They all have a timeline of effectiveness, and the longer you put off upgrading that fan you’ve had since childhood, the less well it will work. You also run the risk of old electronics becoming fire hazards, so long story short – replace electronics every 5 years to be safe.
    1. If it’s battery powered, replace your batteries if they’re old. Batteries, even rechargable ones, will also die. And their power supply shrinks with time, so keep that in mind.

Moving On

Okay, you’ve tried the easy fixes, now what? There are a few things to look (and listen) for, so let’s look into them a bit more.

Dirt & Grime

This is a problem with just about every electronic or mechanical contraption. They’re meant to stay clean, and if you get lazy with maintaining that cleanliness, it’ll start to stop working. Whether that means it stops entirely or starts to work less efficiently, there are a few things to look for.

The most obvious indicator of a fan that’s stopped working due to being dirty is, well, dirt and dust. It’s pretty easy to tell, especially if your formerly white fan is now grey, beige, or brown. Use a gentle cleaner (or just warm water and Dawn soap) along with a soft rag, like microfiber, to give it a quick dusting.

This will likely require you to remove the cover from the fan. Make sure (as with all electronics) to unplug the device before trying to do so.

Spooky Sounds

Listen to your gadgets, folks! If you notice your fan (or any other gadget, for that matter) making abnormal noises, it’s trying to tell you something. If your fan stopped working after making a grinding, tapping, or rattling noise, it’s likely dead.

While it sucks to admit that your favorite fan is done for, it’s often for the best. If, however, you caught the fan making noise early, there are a few things you can do before giving up.

  • Check the fan bearings – Generally this just means taking off the guard and fan blades and applying a bit of WD-40 to the bearings. These are the parts that help the fan turn, so it’s important that they’re lubricated.
  • Look for buildup of dirt or hair – Especially if you have pets (or a partner with long hair, like me) it’s good to make sure nothing is preventing your fan from doing its job. This ties directly into the above step, but it’s always good to check this when you hear new noises.
  • Motor – If your motor is the source of noise, it’s almost guaranteed to not be worth your time to try and repair. Not only will disassembly of the fan void any warranties it may have, but you could very well make the problem worse. It’s better to just buy a new fan and responsibly dispose of your old one.

Other Fans and Shameless Plugs

If your industrial or car’s fan stopped working, you’re looking at an entirely different set of challenges. While cleaning them is always good to do, it’s generally best to go to a pro for help. When you’ve got complicated machines connected to a fan, it’s better to play things safe.

If your bathroom extractor fan stopped working, you should head to our articles here detailing how to troubleshoot and clean your extractor fan.

If your oven fan stopped working, check out this guide to why an oven fan is blowing cold air.

Ceiling fans are more complicated than a desk fan, so we wrote separately about that, as well! Here’s our guide to fixing a slow-turning or non-functioning ceiling fan, as well as the best ceiling fans on the market.

And that’s it! No more plugging our wonderful content… for now.

Final Thoughts

If your desk fan stopped working, there are a few easy fixes to try before considering a new one. Cleaning your fan regularly and listening to it are the best ways to prevent failure proactively. And don’t be afraid to replace an old fan – not only do they normally work less well, but they’re a fire hazard!

Stay cool out there, and as always, listen to your electronics! If they make sound, they’re trying to tell you something.

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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.