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How to Fix a Noisy Bathroom Fan [DIY Guide]

Does your bathroom make grinding, high-pitched, squeaky noises that seem to rattle and vibrate the entire room?

Damage and normal wear and tear on your bath fan and its motor can create all kinds of noises. When dust and other debris build up on your fan blades, you will be left with annoying sounds and vibrations. Repairing, replacing, or cleaning your fan will resolve these issues. However, some fans are just naturally loud.

Since a bathroom fan can make so many different types of sounds and off-putting movements like pulsating and rattling, it can be tough to diagnose and resolve this problem properly.

It’s best to fix this issue right away than to let it linger so that you will have a more peaceful and serene bathroom experience.

noisy bathroom fan

Why Is My Bathroom Fan So Loud?

Usually, your bathroom exhaust fan is unbearably loud because of a lack of cleaning, or it is just broken and worn down.

Knocking, grinding, vibrating, and rattling tend to point to some type of problem with the fan’s motor or even the fan blades themselves.

Most other noises are caused by an excessive dirt buildup in your fan, making it harder for the motor to function and the blades to move.

If your bathroom fan is creating a pulsating or buzzing noise then an electrical issue may be to blame.

If so, you should get your bathroom fan checked out immediately because it may become a fire hazard.

Squeaking and vibration are also caused by fan blades that need to be oiled or by loose parts that need to be tightened.

Your bathroom fan can even make noise when it is off, which sometimes is caused by a backdraft, another fan, or electrical issues.

Additionally, the issue may not lie with your fan at all but with your ductwork.

If your ductwork is the wrong size or is poorly placed, the noise of air traveling through it will be more noticeable.

How Loud Should a Bathroom Fan Be?

Appliances like bathroom fans have their noise level measured in sones.

To give you an idea of how loud a sone is, about 6 sones is similar to the noise level of a busy highway.

3 sones would be like hearing a television at medium volume.

In contrast, 1 sone is comparable to a quiet night in the suburbs.

Modern bathroom fans usually run between 0.3 to 1.0 sones.

A fan running at 0.3 sones would require dead silence so you could even hear it.

But older model bathroom fans can be much louder, reaching up to 2 or 3 sones.

It’s important to distinguish whether your fan has an issue or is a very old fan that’s running fine but is just naturally loud when compared to newer models.

How to Fix a Loud Bathroom Fan

Tools You Will Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Dust Mask
  • Eye Protection
  • Can of Compressed Air
  • Small Brush
  • Cloth or Microfiber Towel
  • Stepstool (if needed)

Clean and Maintain Your Bathroom Fan

1. Remove the Fan’s Cover

To do any cleaning or maintenance to your bathroom exhaust fan, you will first need to remove the fan’s cover.

Before attempting to remove the fan cover, you should equip your dust mask and eye protection as you will likely release a lot of dust into the air when removing the cover.

Some fan covers can be unscrewed from the ceiling, while others use metal mounting wires that require you to pull the cover down by hand and then squeeze these wires to release the cover.

If your bathroom fan has a light, disconnect it.

2. Clean the Fan

You can use compressed air to get the majority of the dust off of your fan blades and motor. 

If your cover does not have a light, you can use soapy water along with a small brush and a rag to clean it. Otherwise, you can use compressed air on the cover as well.

You can use a dry cloth to get any dust the compressed air missed on the motor and fan blades. You should never expose the fan’s motor to any water.

To take things a step further, you can use a screwdriver to take the fan down from the ceiling for a more thorough cleaning.

3. Further Maintenance

With your fan clean, you can perform some additional maintenance procedures that can reduce the noise level of a bathroom fan.

First, check the mounting screws that hold the fan onto your ceiling.

If they are loose, they can create noises and vibrations, so tightening them may resolve the issue.

If these screws are stripped and won’t turn, they need to be replaced.

Next, spin the fan blades by hand.

If they make any unusual noise, they probably need to be oiled.

You can use lubrication oil on the bearings to get rid of squeaking and other noises as the fan blades spin.

Lubricating your bathroom fan will only require a few drops of oil, and you will likely have to take the fan apart to access the bearings.

Repair or Replace Your Bathroom Fan

1. Inspecting the Fan

With your bathroom fan cover removed as described in the section on cleaning and maintaining your fan, begin your inspection.

The most noticeable thing will be the fan blades.

Do the blades have cracks or other damage and do they spin easily by hand?

Check the motor and the wiring for any obvious damage.

The motor will have information imprinted on it which can help you determine how old it is and if it should be replaced.

2. Repairing the Fan

If your bathroom exhaust fan has parts that need to be replaced, you can contact the manufacturer for the fan for replacement parts.

Sometimes the fan blades are in good shape but are just misaligned.

To align the blades you will have to take them apart and reinstall them properly, usually with new hardware.

When replacing fan blades, it’s usually best to replace the bearings as well.

Also, when replacing a motor, it’s a good idea to replace any old wiring that’s connected to it.

3. Deciding Whether to Replace the Fan

If your bathroom fan has multiple issues that need repair or is just very old, you have to decide whether replacing the fan entirely would be better than repairing it.

You must weigh the cost and time required to make repairs with the cost of a new fan and decide what will be best for you.

As stated earlier, older model fans are just naturally louder, and the older a fan is, the more likely it will give out.

So, in that case, you are usually better off buying a newer model.


Is a noisy bathroom fan dangerous?

In most cases, a noisy bathroom fan is not dangerous, but it depends on the noise. Any buzzing or pulsating noises that point to possible electrical issues can be worrisome because they can lead to an electrical fire.

How long should a bathroom exhaust fan last?

On average, a bathroom exhaust fan will last between 8 to 10 years. But when cared for very well, a bathroom fan can last much longer.

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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