Introduction: Fix a PC Power Supply Fan Without Needing Screwdrivers

Picture of Fix a PC Power Supply Fan Without Needing Screwdrivers

Ok, so your power supply fan has started making that BRRRrrrrRRRRrrrrrRRRRrrRRRRrrrr noise, and it's running slow.
Maybe the fan has stopped altogether.
Taking your computer to the shop is expensive, and most just replace the power supply anyway.

Well, here's the quick fix that you can do with things you may already have - and WITHOUT screwdrivers!
Done right, the repair takes under a minute, and can increase the life of a fan by years.

First, let's look at these fans and how they work, and what makes them fail.

Step 1: Sleeve Bearing Fan

Picture of Sleeve Bearing Fan

This is a typical sleeve bearing fan. The shaft fits very snug inside a "tube" or sleeve.
The shaft as it rotates glides inside the bearing on an extremely thin layer of lubricant.

The lubricant is held in by a rubber grommet (plug) under the sticker on the fan. Some don't even have the rubber grommet, and just the sticker holds the lubricant in.

The problem is, eventually this lubricant escapes, suffers viscosity breakdown, or just dries up. Please note that vegetable or olive oils will suffer viscosity breakdowns faster than oils that are meant to be lubricants.

If you have removed the power supply, opened it up, and removed the fan, you can oil it in this area, then put the grommet (if it exists) and sticker back in place.

But what if you don't want to go through all that work? There must be an easier way, right?

Step 2: Too Much Work!!!

Picture of Too Much Work!!!

Let's face it, if your computer looks anything like mine does, you really don't want to disconnect everything just to fix a sticky fan, or even to replace the power supply!
On my system there's the motherboard connection, and then power for 2 case fans, 5 hard drives, 1 SSD drive, and 3 optical drives.
That's a lot of cabling to mess around with just for a fan fix, and then I'd have to make it all look this neat again after I put it back together.
There's GOT TO BE an easier way........

NOTE: If your fan looks like the one pictured here, you WILL need to take off the side panel and lay the PC on the other side, but the fix will still work. Unfortunately you may need a screwdriver to take off the side panel! LOL!

Step 3: The Quick Fix That Lasts

Picture of The Quick Fix That Lasts

I suggest sewing machine oil if you can find it, but most lubricants (NOT WD40 - that's not meant as a long term lubricant) will work.
Motor oil is a bit thick for our needs, so only try that as a last resort.

First, let's see if your power supply qualifies for this fix.

Looking at the back of the power supply, see if there are 4 holes at the centre of where the fan mounts.
If they aren't there, this won't work.

Step 4: The Trick...

Picture of The Trick...

Now you need a syringe or a precision oiler like the one here. These oilers have a blunt end though, so you'll need to file it on an angle until it resembles a syringe tip.

Now, going on about a 45 degree angle from one of the upper holes, punch the needle through the sticker and rubber grommet and squeeze in some oil. 
If there is no rubber grommet, the oil may start to leak out the hole you just made...as soon as it does, remove the needle.
If there is a rubber grommet, just squeeze oil in and remove the syringe as you do so. The grommet will seal up as soon as the needle comes out.

Now power up the unit, and let the oil work its way into the bearing.
Fans with rubber grommets last years after doing this. Those without vary in how long they last afterwards - but hey, you can just do it again down the road!
If you can manage to get some tape over the hole you made, it'll last longer than if you don't.

If the fan is one that has completely seized up, you'll need to move the blades back and forth until the fan starts to spin on it's own. I find a Popsicle stick is good for this procedure.

That's it, you're done, and didn't need your tool box, and probably didn't break a sweat.
Best of all, you didn't have to buy a fan, or power supply, or take it to a shop or spend a ton of time ripping it apart.

Comments

SuperTech-IT (author)2013-05-25

By the way, this also works for case fans if you can get the needle to the centre of the fan through the casing.

DarkoS18 (author)2017-06-15

Will this work on a newer power supply, like Thermaltake, 600W? My PSU is quite noisy, even when the system is idle, gets very noisy when loaded.


Thank you in advance.

SuperTech-IT (author)DarkoS182017-06-15

Usually if a system gets louder when loaded, it's the CPU fan, not the PSU fan that you are hearing.
This fix is for when your PSU fan starts making that low pitched growling noise.

DarkoS18 (author)SuperTech-IT2017-06-15

It was not noisy on my old PSU, but when I changed it, due to a power failure, I'm hearing a grinding sound from the new (used) PSU. (Edit: Thermaltake Roughpower 650W*). I checked, double and triple checked, the sound is definitely coming from the PSU. It's just like the fan needs to be "oiled".

It gets louder when I go gaming, or anything regarding the GPU (watching a movie, or some other video). I was considering opening the PSU and doing the thing you were mentioning below, using the sewing machine oil, but will it help?

Any other suggestions?

Thank you for your quick response.

Kind regards.

SuperTech-IT (author)DarkoS182017-06-15

In that case, you absolutely need to do this. And NOW !

I am simply showing an easier way - if your supply does not have access through the holes like I show, then you need to open it up and remove the fan and get it oiled, or that supply is going to fail, and possibly take out other equipment.

A non-ball bearing fan (sleeve bearing) is the same no matter what the supply. If it's growling, you need to either do this, or replace the fan - or worst case, get a new supply.
If you actually have sewing machine oil or 3-in-1 or the likes, absolutely do it.
DO NOT use WD-40. WD-40 is a water displacer and not actually meant as a lubricant. If there is a rubber grommet under the label, by all means, inject. If there is no grommet (usually found out when you try to inject) you can still inject, and tape over the hole after.

MOST PSU units do not increase/decrease speed with load. This is why I questioned. I wanted you to be absolutely SURE it was the PSU fan, and not the CPU/GPU fan, which usually do respond to load, often quite dramatically.
It's nice that you have a supply that tries to be quiet under lesser loads. It's obviously worth saving.

DarkoS18 (author)SuperTech-IT2017-06-16

In the end the problem was something totally different then we thought. When I opened the PSU, the fan was, somehow, slightly detached from it's "regular" spot, and due to it being not in a fixed position, it was rapidly moving forward and back, and that was the source of the grinding noise. Took some glue, and glued the fan to it's original spot, closed the PSU, turned it on, everything was dead silent! Did some lubricating, for good measure, can't hurt, because I saw it was pretty dry.

Thank you for your help anyways, thinking the lubricating was the problem, found out it was something else entirely.


Again thank you for a quick response, advice and generally being kind :)

Until next time,

Regards,

Darko.

SuperTech-IT (author)DarkoS182017-06-16

I get the feeling I was just tested tp see if I was a noob or pro.

DarkoS18 (author)SuperTech-IT2017-06-16

Sorry for that, when you put it that way, it really sounds like it was some kind of a test :) It just happened to be something else.

Definitely a pro ;)

DarkoS18 (author)SuperTech-IT2017-06-15

I checked, there are 4 holes on the case, but there is plastic after that, so I'll need to open the PSU. I did see you mentioned to not use the WD-40, so that's out of the question. I have some sewing machine oil (here, where I live, it's called simply "machine oil" - on pictures - used for lubricating chains on bicycles, lubricating car parts, etc. - hope it's the same thing).

Thank you so much for the advice. I'm also tech savvy, but I'm always opened for a different perspective on the problem or simply a good advice. I'll do the lubricating tomorrow, and reply back with the results. I really hope that lubricating will do the job, because finding this fan here will be very hard.

Thanks again.

Regards,

Darko.

SuperTech-IT (author)DarkoS182017-06-16

I'd like to see a picture of the back of your power supply before you go ripping things apart.

ex_jedi (author)2017-01-10

Worked great for me. My PC is quiet again.

RogueS6 (author)2016-12-31

will this fix a loud PSU?

SuperTech-IT (author)RogueS62016-12-31

if the noise is coming from the fan, then yes, this is exactly what I developed this technique for.

RogueS6 (author)SuperTech-IT2017-01-01

thanks tho and yeah the noise is from the fan

krb2709 made it! (author)2016-10-18

Even if u do not have four holes , there is one practical idea. cut ribs at 3 points , as marked blue in yellow circles. Leave bottom point uncut as shown in green rectangle), Band the green point to downward ,lubricate fan , rebend the strip back again in original place. I did it successfully today & noise stopped. Also, grill remained intact except having 3 cuts...!!!!!! to maintain vermin proof-ness function.

SuperTech-IT (author)krb27092016-10-19

Yes, that would work too if you have something that will easily cut the ribs. Glad you found this article useful. When I was working as a tech and doing many machines a day, it saved me hundreds of hours of time, and saved the customers countless amounts from not having to replace their power supplies.

krb2709 (author)SuperTech-IT2016-10-19

yes, I could easily cut them with a plier, as they are small size & much thinner in my case. God rid of the noise.

chey229 (author)2016-07-12

I recently bought a Supermicro PWS-865-PQ power supply on eBay. It was
cheap, and I did not think that something should be wrong with the unit.
Only as it arrived, could I see a lot of dust in the PSU. So, I decided
that I open it and clean it with air and brush. However, the dust was
somehow strange. Guess what: the previous owner did something like the
thing in this article, but was not careful enough, and the fan blew a lot of oil into the PSU, which
acted as a glue on the warm (and warmer, warmer, hot, hotter...)
components. Luckily, this is a server PSU, and it has been made to be rock-solid even if one of the two fans fail, so it works well. But most PSU's are not as solid as my one. Please be very-very careful, if you apply this method, because the dust can block the heatsinks in the PSU, which can result in the overheating of the FET's, which can result in overvoltage, overcurrent, fire, explosion, etc, and the removal of oiled dust is a long and painful process.

UmairW (author)2015-09-27

My power supply is not working how to fix please define it

SuperTech-IT (author)UmairW2015-09-27

replace the power supply.

dancmarsh (author)2013-07-01

A little tiny drop of olive or vegetable oil works nicely as well. Doesn't rot rubber as it's not petroleum based.

if you do dismantle, just drop a tiny bit in off the end of a teaspoon. Been using this one for years and it works well.

SuperTech-IT (author)2013-06-15

I would like to point out that although I am picturing a power supply that has been removed from the case, the entire idea here is that you don't need to remove the supply from the case. When using the type of supply pictured, you don't even need to remove the side panels - absolutely no screwdrivers needed at all.

About This Instructable

223,600views

24favorites

License:

Bio: Just getting into the microcontroller craze. I used to do this sort of thing building circuits for 8 bit microprocessors back in the early 80s ... More »
More by SuperTech-IT:8X8X8 3D RGB LED CubeArduino 8 A.C. Outlet (plug) Timer / Vampire KillerOne Part $1 Computer Security Power Lockout
Add instructable to: