How to Fix a Tower Fan With Minimal Hassle

Josh Miller

Josh is a contributing writer to the site and former HVAC specialist.

Last Updated on June 7, 2021

Tower fans provide efficient cooling for your room, but they have many moving parts inside and can begin to wear out over time. Although it’s best to replace an older tower fan that’s on its last legs or is past its warranty, you can make quick fixes to keep the fan working a little longer.

Various issues might occur in a tower fan, and most repairs require you to remove the back of the fan to get inside. However, this is easy once you know what screw to look for and where the significant parts are located. Here’s the step-by-step process to troubleshooting and fixing a tower fan.

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Table of Contents

Fan Won’t Turn On

One common scenario when figuring out how to fix a tower fan is locating why the fan won’t turn on at all. If the front indicator lights won’t come on and there’s no humming sound indicating the motor is trying to turn, the most likely culprit is the power source.

Try the fan in a different outlet, or plug a different device into the outlet and see if it works. This helps you rule out the outlet itself as the problem, which would require a visit from a qualified electrician. If the outlet works fine or the fan won’t work in multiple outlets, the next things to check are the power cord and the fuse inside the fan.

Unplug the fan and remove the back cover by unscrewing the recessed screws at the top and bottom of the back. There may also be additional screws on either side, so use caution when pulling the cover off and stopping if it resists too much. Make sure to set the loose screws in a safe location while you work.

Examine the entire cord for damage, especially around the plug and where the cord connects to the electronics inside the fan. Replacing the power cord is easy if you buy a replacement of the same gauge. Also, check to see if the fuse attached to the internal end of the cord has melted, as this is easy to replace as well.

If none of the above options work, there may be a connection problem deeper in the fan. It is usually easier to buy a replacement fan in these cases, especially if you’re inexperienced with fixing electronics. Any internal damage to wiring is likely to come loose again after continued use.

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Oscillation Problems

Oscillation, or the back-and-forth rotation of the fan, is essential to keeping your whole room cool and comfortable. If this feature in your fan stops working, you can take a few steps to address it.

First, double-check the settings to make sure the oscillation settings didn’t get changed by mistake. Try pressing the “oscillation” or “rotation” button a few times, waiting a few seconds each time to see if the oscillation improves. Make sure to press the buttons firmly since older fans’ connections sometimes lose their sensitivity after years of use.

If it still doesn’t work, examine the base of the fan to see if there is noticeable hair, string, or grime gumming up the base. You may need to remove the back of the fan to see this area more clearly.

Removing the back of the fan to do a complete deep cleaning and lubrication is a natural next step. Use WD-40 or a similar industrial lubricant on the main support pole near the base and any gears attached to it. Be careful not to get lubricant on any electronic parts.

The last option is to seek out a replacement motor for the oscillation function. You will need to consult with the owner’s manual and possibly the manufacturer’s website for this, but if the fan is less than 10 years old, it may be possible to secure a replacement part.

Fixing Rattling Noises

Rattling noises often occur if an individual flap or part is loose inside the fan. If you hear a rattling noise while the fan is running, start by experimenting to see if adjusting the fan speed or oscillation changes the sound. Place your ear close to the fan’s body to see if you can determine the approximate location of the sound.

Once you know what you’re looking for, unplug the fan and remove the back cover. Gently poking around the area the rattling came from could reveal a loose flap or screw. Reattach the loose part with a small piece of electrical tape if needed.

If the piece is a flap that controls airflow and it’s damaged beyond repair, consider removing it entirely if it’s not essential to the overall function of the fan. In some cases, lubrication can reduce rattling or grinding noises by allowing parts to slip past each other more easily.

When you replace the cover, make sure all screws are tightened snugly but not over-tightened. A loose screw could give you a new source of rattling, especially if the fan cover has metal parts.

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Preventive Maintenance

When you open up your tower fan, take the opportunity to clean out the insides with an air compressor. This can help clear up issues you might not have noticed yet, like the fan oscillating slowly. Avoid aggressive cleaning, especially with metal instruments, and check the manufacturer’s directions for general warnings for your model.

Also, consider getting a filter cover for your fan. If you have chronic problems with figuring out how to fix a tower fan because of the insides getting gummed up, this can make all the difference in extending your fan’s life. This is especially important in homes with animals or high seasonal pollen outdoors.

The Limits of Repairs

Although modern tower fans are sturdy and will often last for decades, older fans may be on their last legs. You should consider a replacement if the fan is older than 20 years or has significant maintenance problems outside its warranty. Since older fans can harbor dust and even bugs in tiny crevices, a new fan can give your room a fresh start.

Trying the above steps help extend the life of a fan, especially if you just got it recently. Even if you’re not handy with electronics, just make sure the fan is unplugged before attempting repairs and follow the manufacturer’s directions.

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