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Bathroom Exhaust Fan is Making Noise When Off [FIXED]

Walking into a bathroom with a whirring or banging noise in the background even if your exhaust fan is off is like a scene in a horror movie. However, it’s not as terrifying as you might think and the problem is easily fixable.

There are several reasons why your bathroom fan is making noise even when off. Check out possible causes of a noisy exhaust fan and the best ways to fix it.

bathroom exhaust fan

Why Is Your Bathroom Exhaust Fan Making Noise?

Your exhaust fan plays an integral role in your bathroom ventilation system. It gets rid of ugly bathroom smells and toxic fumes from your cleaning products. A bathroom exhaust fan also helps prevent moisture buildup in your bathroom to avoid mold growth. Once it gets broken, doing an immediate fix to your bathroom exhaust fan is necessary. 

When your bathroom exhaust fan starts making unpleasant noises, it’s a sign that there’s something wrong. But where do you start in troubleshooting your noisy bathroom exhaust fan?

Several things can cause your bathroom exhaust fan to make unpleasant noises. Common reasons include:

  • A build-up of dust and debris in your exhaust fan
  • Loose parts 
  • A fan that came out of alignment, hitting the housing as it rotates
  • Lack of proper lubrication
  • Faulty fan motor needing replacement

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why you have a noisy bathroom exhaust fan. However, you can only spot most of these problems as you turn on the fan. 

So, what about the unpleasant noises coming from your bathroom exhaust fan while it’s turned off?

Does Your Bathroom Fan Make Noise Even When Off?

A banging or grinding noise from your exhaust fan when it’s turned off can be a bit alarming, but the possible reasons behind it are not as alarming as you might expect. 

It’s Windy Outside

Sign: rattling or flapping noises

Have you heard any ‘clicking’ noise from your bathroom exhaust fan while it’s turned off? The most probable reason for this is the strong wind blowing outside. The wind blowing from out of the house may be picking up and hitting the vent flapper, causing it to flap up and down and making that annoying noise you hear. 

You’re Living in an Apartment Complex

Sign: low buzzing noise

Another reason why your bathroom exhaust fan might be making unpleasant noises while turned off is you are living in an apartment complex. In many cases, bathroom fans in an apartment complex are connected with a single exhaust duct. 

Because they are running on the same duct, you might be able to hear when your neighbors have their exhaust fans turned on. A telling sign that this is the issue is when you hear a low buzzing or whirring noise even when your bathroom exhaust fan is off. 

Noisy Bathroom Exhaust Fan When Off? We Have a Fix!

Whether it’s the strong wind or your neighbor’s exhaust causing your bathroom fan to sound like you’re in a horror film, there isn’t much you can do to fix the situation. Unless you can control the wind or give each of your neighbors a separate exhaust duct, you can’t solve this problem 100%.

However, you can focus on suppressing the unpleasant noise in your bathroom and your exhaust fan quieter. Here are some fixes and tips that can greatly reduce the annoying noise your bathroom exhaust fan is making while off. 

Insulate Your Bathroom Exhaust Fan

Insulating your bathroom fan is a remarkable way to reduce and even eliminate the sound vibrations you get while your exhaust is off. You can use a thin strip of sound-absorbing rubber and place it between the fan housing and the wall or ceiling. 

You can find a sound-absorbing rubber or foam with an adhesive backing, but if not, you should be able to stick it on the surface with glue. 

Place a Foam Strip in the Flapper

If the cause of your noisy exhaust fan is the flapper hitting on a metal surface, placing a thin foam strip where the flaps sit when closed can considerably eliminate the unpleasant noise. It’s one of the cheapest solutions to get rid of that annoying noise from your bathroom fan.

You can either stick the foam strip on the edge of the flap disk or on the exhaust hood where the flapper rests or hits the metal, whichever is more convenient.

However, make sure that the foam strip ends up with a flat surface for the flap disk to rest on. Otherwise, it will only prevent the flapper from completely closing and you risk adding to the air loss.

Weigh Down the Flap Disks

Another fix you can do with a noisy flapper on your exhaust fan is weighing it down. You can attach a couple of small washes on the flap disks, enough that it makes it harder for the wind to pick up the flap. 

Another alternative for weighing down the flapper is to use small wheel weights that have a waterproof adhesive backing you can easily stick to the flap disks. 

Replace the Existing Gravity Damper

If the above fixes don’t work, the best solution would be to exchange your existing gravity damper with a spring-loaded butterfly damper. 

Backdraft dampers are common solutions to bathroom exhaust fan noises caused by airflow direction problems. While the gravity damper has flap disks that make it easy for the strong wind to pick up and create that annoying noise, that won’t be a problem with a backdraft damper. Its spring-loaded design will only open when you turn on your exhaust fan. Its airtight seal ensures that windy outside situations won’t cause any noise in your bathroom anymore. 

Final Thoughts

There can be plenty of reasons why your bathroom exhaust fan is making an unpleasant noise. However, if you’re hearing that rattling or buzzing sound while your bathroom fan is off, there are only two possible reasons. It can either be the strong wind picking up and moving the exhaust flapper, or your fan is connected to the same duct as your neighbors. 

Depending on the cause of your noisy bathroom exhaust fan, this troubleshooting guide should help you spot the problem and find the best way to fix it.

Adam McCoy

Adam is an HVAC expert and the owner of Mackydo's HVAC Services with decades of experience in fixing and installing air conditioning units, furnaces, and every type of cooling and heating equipment you can think of.

Adam believes that your home is your sanctuary. He loves sharing advice based on his lifelong experience and treats every HVAC problem as if it was his own.

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