The bathroom extractor or exhaust fan is an important part of keeping your home clean and safe. It removes humidity, dirt, and stale air from your bathroom.
Without it, moisture from your shower and sink can build up and cause rot and mould in your walls. That’s why it’s important to have a working extractor fan.
There are several reasons why your bathroom extractor fan might not work. It could be dirty or have stuck fan blades. There could also be a problem with the wiring, either with the fan or with the switch that controls it. You can check and clean your fan yourself, but always consult an expert if you need to repair any wiring.
Read on to find out more about why your exhaust fan isn’t working and learn the solutions to fix it.
7 Reasons Your Bathroom Extractor Fan Isn’t Working
1. Your Extractor Fan Is Dirty
Even regular overhead fans get dusty over time. Extractor fans are even more prone to dirt and debris because of the humidity in the bathroom.
Not only is it easier for dust to build up, but all that moisture can grow mouldy as well.
Keeping the blades, the exterior cover, and the interior of the fan vent clear of dust is important. If your bathroom extractor fan isn’t working properly, give the whole unit a good cleaning.
Remove the fan cover to check the interior. Most covers should pull an inch or two away from the ceiling to reveal two metal clips. Squeeze these to release them from their slots and pull the cover the rest of the way down.
Now that you have access to the blades and housing, you can give them a good clean with a cloth. Don’t forget to wipe the cover itself, too.
2. The Circuit Is Tripped
It’s usually easy to tell if the circuit for your whole bathroom has been tripped. You won’t have power anywhere, not just your fan.
But if your fan is on a separate circuit, you might not realise that it’s been tripped right away. Always double-check your circuit breakers if your fan stops running.
If your extractor fan is on a GFCI circuit, then you’ll have to reset that as well. A GFCI circuit is a ground-fault circuit interrupter. It’s a special outlet that will shut off that circuit if the electricity overloads.
These GFCI outlets have a “test” button and a “reset” button. If your fan is on a GFCI circuit but isn’t working, try pressing the “reset” button to bring power back to the circuit.
3. Faulty Wiring
An extractor fan has a few areas that need proper electrical input. If any one of these is faulty, then your fan won’t work.
First, check the actual wall switch that controls the fan with a voltage tester. If the switch is bad, you’ll have to replace it.
If that doesn’t do the trick, check if your fan has an outlet as part of its interior housing. This is where the motor actually plugs in. Remove the cover like you would if you were cleaning the fan.
If there’s an outlet, you should see a couple of wires leading to it from the fan’s motor. Unplug the motor plug and, using a voltage tester, see if there is adequate power running to the outlet.
If there’s a problem, you may have to replace the outlet or call an electrician to repair the wiring.
4. The Bathroom Extractor Fan Needs A New Motor
If you already have the fan motor exposed, you can check to see if it’s burnt out. Take an extension cord that you know is working and plug it into a working outlet.
Then, connect the motor plug to the extension cable and turn the fan on. If the fan still does not turn on, then you have confirmed that the motor is burnt out.
You’ll have to replace the motor with a new one, which you can buy from many hardware stores.
6. The Fan Blades Are Stuck
Another good thing to check while you have your fan cover off is for stuck fan blades. Your fan motor could be running, but if the blades aren’t spinning, it’s not going to do its job.
You may have to remove a second cover to access the blades depending on your type of fan. Once you have access, push the blades with your finger or a screwdriver.
If the fan doesn’t spin freely, try oiling the fan hub. If that still doesn’t work, you will likely need a new fan.
7. There’s Not Enough Airflow In Your Bathroom
Your bathroom exhaust fan may have a working motor and fan, but just isn’t doing a good enough job. If so, try leaving your bathroom door open a crack while the fan is running.
Bathroom fans need a certain amount of static pressure to work efficiently. The airflow in your bathroom affects this pressure.
Your fan is working to pull out stale air and humidity. But if there isn’t enough fresh air to replace it, it won’t be as effective.
Try leaving your bathroom door open a crack when you run your extractor fan. This will allow just enough fresh air to come in to balance out your bathroom.
Commonly Asked Questions
How Long Do Bathroom Extractor Fans Last?
Bathroom extractor fans have an average lifespan of about ten years. Making sure your fan is free of dust and debris will help you get the most out of it.
How Do You Clean A Bathroom Extractor Fan?
First, always make sure the power to the fan is off. Then, carefully pull down the fan cover until you can reach your fingers into the gap.
You should feel some metal clips that you can squeeze to pull the cover off the rest of the way. Use a damp cloth to remove as much dust and dirt from the cover as you can.
If you need to, you can soak the cover in warm water with gentle soap and scrub any tough build-up. Let air dry or buff with a dry cloth.
After that, examine the interior housing of the exhaust or extractor fan. Use a cloth to remove as much dust as possible. Be sure to wipe down the fan blades as well.
Once the cover is dry, simply replace it back over the housing. Repeat this process every six months to a year to ensure your fan works properly for as long as possible.
Why Does My Bathroom Fan Start Then Stop?
If your fan is starting fine but stops at random intervals, you likely have an issue with the wiring. It could be in the fan motor itself, but it’s likely a problem with the wall switch.
You should always contact an electrician expert when you have a problem with your wiring.
Bathroom extractor fans are pretty simple machines that only require light maintenance. By cleaning your fan on a regular basis, you can keep it running smoothly for years to come.
If you have a problem that cleaning can’t fix, don’t worry. It’s easy to check if there’s an issue with your circuits or bathroom wiring.
Always use care when examining anything electrical and consult an electrician if any wiring needs repair.