Bathroom Exhaust Fan Doesn’t Turn On
LESLIE: Shannon in North Carolina is on the line and needs help with a bathroom vent switch. What’s going on?
SHANNON: The problem is I turn the switch on to it; sometimes it comes on, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I turn the switch on, it briefly takes between two to three minutes. And if it comes on after that …
TOM: Now, Shannon, is this powering an exhaust fan?
SHANNON: Yes, it is.
TOM: So I think probably the exhaust fan is starting to wear out. It sounds to me like the motor for the fan is perhaps dirty or the bearing is a little worn and it takes a while for it to kind of get going. And that’s a very kind of common symptom of a motor that’s wearing out.
Is this an old bath fan?
SHANNON: Yes. It’s about 18 years old.
TOM: Yeah, man, time to replace it. Don’t last forever.
SHANNON: Yeah, I know.
TOM: You know, it’s very simple. Does this bath fan have a light that’s built into it, as well?
SHANNON: No, sir.
TOM: Alright. Well, when you pull the cover off the fan, sometimes you’ll see that the fan is actually plugged into the side of the housing. And so you could plug a light into the side of that housing, unplug the fan and then go to the light switch and turn it on – I’m sorry, the bath fan. So turn it on/off, on/off. You’ll probably see the power come on and off like normally, as evidenced by the light bulb that you just plugged in for testing purposes. And again, that just means that the power is fine. It’s not a problem with the switch; it’s the fan.
And if you’re getting that kind of resistance out of it, I’d just replace the fan. They’re not very expensive. And the good thing is that even though it’s an 18-year-old bathroom exhaust fan, the sizes are pretty standard. So chances are you’ll be able to replace that without a lot of trouble.
SHANNON: OK. Sounds common and easy.
TOM: Yep. Pretty straightforward. Shannon, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.