Is My Extractor Fan Working Correctly?

Are you looking for ways to address an issue with your bathroom extractor fan? Whether it's making funny noises or not working at all, here are some tips and tricks to help you troubleshoot and get your bathroom extractor fan working again.

The Extractor Fan Role
Extractor fans play an important role in our households and workplaces. They are usually installed within:

  • kitchens
  • bathrooms
  • utility rooms

These rooms tend to experience high humidity. The fans themselves help to remove moisture, pollutants and odorous particles from the air.

If your extractor fan isn't working to the best of its ability or worse, isn't working at all then this can lead to many problems.

Without a fan to remove pollutants from the air, the air quality within your home or workplace will suffer. This can lead to breathing problems such as asthma, sneezing, and coughing.

Furthermore, without a fan to remove excess moisture from the air, bathrooms and kitchens could suffer and this can have a knock-on effect to your other rooms.

High levels of humidity can damage:

  • wallpaper
  • paintwork
  • drywall
  • grouting

Moist environments will also foster mould growth which can lead to serious health problems, including asthma, allergic reactions, and a compromised immune system.

Is my extractor fan working?

If you are noticing a problem with the ventilation within one of your rooms, then the extractor fan may be to blame.

Before you look into a possible malfunction, check that the issue isn't to do with the model itself. It is important to choose a fan that is powerful enough to ventilate the room in question.

You should also make sure that the fan has been installed correctly and set up prior to use. If you have reservations as to whether any of these issues apply to you, it is recommended that you contact a reputable electrician who can assist you further.

  • Is your fan powerful enough for the room?
  • Has it been installed correctly?
  • Do you have the correct control type?

Common Extractor Fan Control Types:

  • Pull cord - For manual operation
  • Timer - Fan over-runs for a short time when you switch it off
  • Humidity - Automatic operation until the humidity level is dropped
  • PIR - Automatic operation when you enter/leave the room On Delay - Delay the fan starting on a 'brief' visit to the room.

Extractor Fan Quick Test

It can be difficult to ascertain whether your extractor fans are working correctly, but there are methods to achieve this.

One of the best ways to check the functionality of your fan is by using baby powder or talc. Spray a cloud of this powder near the fan grill and watch what happens:

If the fan is working correctly then the powder will be sucked into the fan.
However, if the powder isn't drawn towards the grille and just hangs in the air then your fan isn't functioning at all.

If the extractor fan pulls, sucks the powder up, but then sprays it back out this could indicate some sort of blockage

Cleaning Your Extractor Fan

If you find that there's some sort of fault with your extractor fan then the first step is to clean it. A build-up of debris such as dust or hair may be causing a blockage and could be to blame for your malfunctioning hardware.

The way in which you attempt to clean your fan will depend on a couple of factors, namely the age of your fan and whether it is wall-mounted or ceiling mounted.

Before any cleaning takes place, the fan should be switched off and isolated to avoid an accident.
Then you should attempt to remove the grille by either unscrewing the screws or in the case of newer products removing the metal springs (whatever applies).
Once removed, you can clean the grille using a damp cloth and vacuum and wipe the interior of the housing.

If you have a ceiling fan it's important to check the ductwork within the attic for any blockages or dirt.
You should also inspect the exterior wall or roof cap for anything which could be causing problems.

Replacing Your Extractor Fan

If you have cleaned your extractor fan and you are still experiencing problems you should call an electrician for an expert opinion and possibly a repair job or ask them to install a new fan