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how to modify a twin window fan for easy cleaning


Hi,
I was given a twin window fan which works just fine but is dirty (dirt and a fair number of ex-gnats).  The manual is no help as it says to wipe the exterior with a damp cloth.  I thought it would be a simple job to just take out the 12 screws holding the two halves together but unfortunately the off-high-low levers (one on each side) are preventing me from separating the two halves.  I can't see any screws holding the lever mechanism in.  I tried rotating one side 90 degrees to see if I could slide the lever out through it's slot but it's too fat.

I've had other twin window fans with the same set up and never could get them opened up.  It annoys me that the manufacturers make it so difficult to clean these fans.  I think a fair number of people have this problem and just give up as the local thrift store gets these fans in all the time. 

I'm thinking of using my dremel with the cutting wheel and somehow slice off the lever knob.  It would mean we would have a shorter lever on one side but we can live with that.  The lever is kind of wobbly and I'm trying to figure out how to hold it steady without having my fingers so close to the cutting wheel.

I know this is a really small problem but it really bugs me that something that should be so easy is difficult.. I'd appreciate any suggestions. 

Picture of how to modify a twin window fan for easy cleaning
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Lucycollie (author) 5 years ago
Thanks Caitlinsdad & Goodhart, it worked. None of my pliers could grasp the lever (not enough room) so I used a small c-clamp to grab it and give me a handle to keep it steady. Used vise grip pliers to break the knob off - turns out the lever was plastic. The good thing is that by carefully breaking the lever near the top where it joined the knob, it is still functional (there's still enough of the lever handle sticking out to turn the fan on-off) and- most importantly- I didn't mess up the lever mechanism inside the fan box.

Last year I attempted this same surgery on a similar twin fan. I wasn't careful enough and ended up breaking the lever mechanism inside - not only broke the plastic but one little goofy spring shot out to be forever lost in the garage. I was never able to fix it.
Hmmm, well no advise for the spring you lost, but could you drill out, and possibly "tap in" some threads (with a self starting screw if you don't have a cheap tap and die set) and then fashion a handle to fit? It would be quite a project, but maybe worthwhile?
caitlinsdad5 years ago
You should just get a pair of vise grips and another small plier to brace the metal below and yank off the plastic knob. You should be able to work off the glue or leverage it off if it is a friction fit and jammed on there. My favorite tool is my big channellock pump pliers, just like using it to pull a nail out. Good luck.
....but if the knob breaks....all bets are off, eh? :-)
Two words. Crazy glue...the one for plastics. The technology is available to fix it.
I have never had a lot of luck with C.G and "knobs" :-)