Why Your Bathroom Vent Fan is Getting Noisier

person adjusting a small exhaust fan on a tiled wall
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Your very reliable bathroom vent fan just started to give off some very disturbing noises that seem to be getting louder each day, and you are left to wonder what could be causing it.

There could be several factors causing the noise coming from the fan. No need to call a fix-it guy just yet.

Here are some possible things causing the noise and what you can do to stop it.

1. Foreign Object Inside the Vent Fan

bathroom exhaust fan on the ceiling

This is the most common cause of your noisy vent fan. Luckily, it’s also the easiest to fix. Check for any objects, like plastic wrappers or pieces of paper that could have gotten stuck in there.

Vent fans have an airflow that can sometimes suck in pieces of paper or plastic.

If you can see something foreign inside do not fret, these can be easily removed by hand, just make sure you unplug the power cord first.

2. Blades Hitting the Fan’s Housing or Fan Guard

As time passes, the blades of the vent fan can slowly be pushed outward by the sheer momentum of the spinning blade.

This might be causing the fan blades to scrape the side, or hit the fan housing or fan guard, and cause your fan to emit a loud clanging noise.

You can also fix this on your own, by removing the fan cover and bending the blades inwards a little, make sure you don’t distort it, as this will create an even louder noise.

Bending it the wrong way can also cause the vent fan to lose sucking power.

3. Motor Needs Oiling

circular bathroom fan and light combo unit

Some bathroom vent fan models require maintenance oiling.

Failure to oil it for extended periods will cause the motor to hum or emit a scratchy sound that gets progressively louder.

Check for oiling holes in the vent’s housing and use an oil can or improvise by putting oil in an old hair dye applicator, or any container with a long slim nozzle.

Look for oiling holes and squirt a little oil into the fan motor. Make sure the fan is off while you are doing this, or you will spray oil all over the place.

Wait for a few minutes for the oil to seep in and then turn on the fan to see if the noise is gone.

4. Worst Case Scenario—Your Motor is Going Bad

If you have thoroughly checked for foreign objects, verified the fan blades are not hitting the fan housing, and oiled the motor, and still the noise is persistent and continues to increase, now may be the time to call the fix-it guy and ask for an assessment.

If it’s a quality brand of exhaust vent fan, there is a chance there is a small part inside, like the bushing, that broke off.

In such cases the fix-it guy can simply replace the part. If it's a sealed motor, however, then there’s no choice left but to replace the motor.