Stalled/seemingly broken space heater, or slow-spinning desk/standing/box fan? Here’s a solution!

Don’t just toss it out/recycle it yet, try these simple steps instead! Chances are it just needs some tender loving care (TLC). If the blades spin really slowly, or the motor is making a loud buzz or humming, that is a definite sign that it needs maintenance in order for it to provide you with a very long service life, both in the sweltering hot summer, and freezing cold winter.

You will need the following tools and supplies:

  • Screwdrivers (most common being a Phillips. Flat/slot for the tabs)
  • Lubricant (3-in-1*, transformer or mineral/baby oil)
  • Eyedropper or syringe (a long-nose will be easiest, if the rear is behind plastic)
  • Patience

Steps (space heater):

  1. Turn off and unplug the unit.
  2. Remove all of the screws holding the enclosure together.
  3. Use the eyedropper or syringe to pickup some lubricant. (SKIP to 4 if using 3-in-1 oil)
  4. Put some lubricant on the ring just behind the blades. You will need 10-20 drops.
  5. Now give them a quick spin by hand to the right and left, including a gentle wiggle back and forth. This will free up the rotor spine if stiff. They should now spin easily without stopping.
  6. Now add 10-20 drops (or a stream) of lubricant to the rear of the motor. If it’s behind the plastic, the long-nose syringe or eyedropper will come in handy, or the stem of the 3-in-1 oil canister.
  7. Give it yet another quick spin in both directions (to the right and left).
  8. Now re-assemble the enclosure by putting the screws back in.
  9. Plug in and power it on using the FAN ONLY setting. If it spins/whirs up to speed, you are good to go.

Steps (standing/desk fan):

  1. Turn off and unplug the fan.
  2. Remove the front cage, most have slide-locks.
  3. Loosen the center fastener (left to loosen, right to tighten, or left if reverse-threaded) and remove the blades. You may have to tug them loose.
  4. Remove the rear spacer by turning it left (if reverse-threaded, turn it right)
  5. If there are screws holding the rear cage to the base, unscrew them. If not SKIP this step.
  6. Remove the rear cage.
  7. Carefully unscrew and remove the button for the oscillation switch.
  8. Remove the power/speed adjuster switch. SKIP this if it’s a desk fan.
  9. Remove the screws to the enclosure. If it has tabs holding it closed, carefully use a flat-heat screwdriver to release them.
  10. Remove the enclosure. It should come off easily.
  11. Use the eyedropper or syringe to pickup some lubricant. (SKIP to if using 3-in-1 oil)
  12. Add 10-20 drops, or a stream, of lubricant to the front and rear parts of the motor, then re-attach the blades and give them a spin in both directions by hand. They should spin freely. Now remove the blades.
  13. Begin to re-assemble the enclosure, snapping any tabs in place, and replacing any screws.
  14. Replace the oscillation switch and screw it back on.
  15. If it’s a standing model, reattach the power/speed adjusting switch.
  16. Reattach the rear cage (and screws if applicable), and screw on the rear spacer.
  17. Attach the blades back on the spine, and tighten the fastener.
  18. Plug it in, power it on using low, medium and high settings. If the blades spin at the proper speed, turn it off and replace the front cage, latching it on.

Steps (box fan):

  1. Turn off and unplug the fan.
  2. Remove the screws holding the rear cage on, then remove the cage.
  3. Add 10-20 drops of lubricant to the rear of the motor, and to the front spine/ring just behind the blades.
  4. Spin the blades right and left, giggle them forwards and backwards. This frees up anything that might be jamming them, pushing the lubricant further inside.
  5. Replace the rear cage, then replace the screws.
  6. Plug in and turn on the fan, set it to HIGH, then medium/low. If the blades spin/whir up normally, it’s good to go.

I hope this saved you from discarding an otherwise functioning standing/desk fan or space heater. If it still didn’t work even after lubricating it, then it’s best to bring it to your local electronics recycling agency. DO NOT toss it into the trash, as it is irresponsible and harmful to the environment.

Feel free to share this blog post with anyone. It could save them allot of money, including keeping otherwise working electronics out of the landfill.

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