Instructables
Many people throw fairly new box fans out well before their time. Like most small appliances, people don't take the time to clean them, even though it will make them last much longer. I guess it is easier to put it out for the trash and spend another $20-$30. Whenever I see the towers of box fans for sale, I always wonder what happened to the ones people bought the year before.

After only one season a fan may be covered in enough gunk to give the illusion that the 'motor' is worn out, when really all that is needed is a good cleaning to keep it running for a lot more hours. I have often picked these up on trash day, and gotten years of use from them. Rarely I may have to replace a knob, but usually they are functioning, but the blade speed is about half of normal.
 
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Step 1: Tools

Picture of tools
Just a few tools, though you can use many more for cleaning depending on the gunk level.

Screw driver
Paper towel
Dusting Brush
All Purpose Cleaner/degreaser
Finger Nail Brush
green kitchen scrubbies
steel wool

Step 2: Remove front and back grills

Picture of Remove front and back grills
These screws are usually very small. put them in your pocket or somewhere SAFE.
Sometimes a few can be missing OR the hole has grown too large to reseat tightly.

Yes, you can skip a few, usually you can leave off a side screw without TOO much noise factor.
but you NEED the top and bottom tightly screwed down of the vibration will make a hell of a racket.
scout around for replacements - you want short and fat threads.

Step 3: Remove grill and fit

Picture of Remove grill and fit
You may have to unhook the power cord collar and remove the feet.
if the feet are missing you will have to dummy a replacement, or just make sure the fan is propped up, like in a window. Vibration at high speeds will make the fan walk and possibly fall.

Step 4: Brush the motor

Picture of Brush the motor
brushthe motor.jpg
Remove all the material surrounding the motor, avoid spraying it with any cleaners.
Use a brush to remove the hair and gunk.
also wipe the struts.
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thaas2222 months ago

I would like to get my box fan working. It is a 3 speed. I have cleaned it every year and also "oiled" the bearing at both ends. It works just fine but will speed up and run at full speed for 3-4 min. then slow down and run slow about the same amount of time. This process keeps up all the time. Any ideas of what can be causing this?

That may be a heat related problem, either with the bearings or with the motor windings (likely insulation break down if it is old). In either case, it will probably be pretty difficult to find parts for it, but it is possible to replace the motor -http://www.surpluscenter.com/Electrical/AC-Motors/...
Or you may also like to try "turbine lubricating oil" made by Norvey (not Norway) before replacing the motor, I've had excellent results from this type because it is specifically made to last a long time and not dry out or gum up - http://www.hearth.com/talk/attachments/norvey-oil-...

http://www.amazon.com/Norvey-ZS75A-Zoom-Spout-Lubr...

Hope that helps.

I clicked the link. The motor appears to be more powerful than the one that's in my dead fan, but it's $12 shipping for one or two of them (at $6 each). I guess if you have a lot of fans to "rejuvenate", it might pay off. Or if you want to monkey with it and get a more energy-using fan but powerful fan.

nature2236 years ago
also pull the BLADE off,and liberally lube up the motor shaft..BOTH ends,the fan side seems to go dry first. that makes a huuuge difference,they seem to spin forever turned off after being lubed up.compared to the hard almost screech to a stop they did "dry" also they move alot more air when spun up not fighting friction
Thanks for this info to. What kind of lubricant would you use on the motor shaft? Also, when you pull the blades off, where on the motor are the proper places to lubricate? I'm interested in not starting a fire:)
Just use WD-40, i thought that stuff was pretty much all purpose...
tmasman Gonazar6 years ago
The problem with WD40 is it's a solvent, not a lubricant... It works well to clean things up & lubes things pretty good while it's "wet", but once it dries up, there's no more lube! You really should use an oil or grease for long lasting lube.
Do we really need to start the whole WD-40 conversation again? This isn't a hi performance electric engine. Anything you do to it will be far better than what shape it came in. If WD40 is what you have on the shelf, then use it. It will not bring about the apocalypse, nor does it have anything to do with the rapture. Use what you have and don't sweat the small stuff.
3 in one oil would be a good choice

you could also get some Automatic Transmission Fluid or 30 weight motor oil and thin it down with some kerosene. Using ether straight (neat for UK readers) would not be the end of the world, it would only be not ideal.

Sewing machine oil

And BTW, WD-40 is a solvent mixed with a lubricant. It also worked a lot better as a diesel starting fluid back when it was pressurized in the can with butane.
Yes, you are correct. You are absolutely correct. But

WD40 is not just a solvent. It is a solvent with a lubricant. The solvent helps pull the lubricant into the tight places. Once the solvent evaporates the lubricant is exactly where it needs to be.

In the States it is largely sold in pressurized cans. Actually, I can't remember when I last saw it in a consumer squeeze can. I've seen it in a gallon container though.

The following isn't particularly relevant, but...
I use to volunteer at a bike rehab clinic. We used a motorcycle chain lube on the bikes going out into the world. We knew that they would see additional time on the streets and were unlikely to be maintained.

There's some guy who does tutorials both on youtube and Instructables. He just trips daisies if you even mention WD40. They behave like it is fuming acid sprayed on your bike. To him you need the expensive chain lubes that you dutifully dot into every link. And you must use certain greases only in certain areas in a bike's headset, etc. It's a little intense.
And the moral of the story...

Use what you have, because you already have it.

WD40 kills bike chains and bearings if used as a "lubricant".

I don't see why people don't use full chain guards on bikes anymore. That would keep the chain in great condition and only add 1 or 2 pounds two the whole bike. Seriously, with the "fixie" craze, its not even safe to have a guard free bike. I can't believe more fingers, pant legs or socks don't get chewed up in those things. I use ATF on my chain and change it frequently. I've got a un-hip 6 sprocket freewheel that takes the cheap ahd heavy duty chain that they sell at wal-mart for a few bucks.
That is so true! Full chain guards are the best. I have one on a dutch style bike. I rode through rain and snow, ice, salt, grit...everything. I take it apart every so often and check for wear. After 1,200 verified miles it is still clean and new.

*The fixie stuff gets under my nerves as well. I want to strangle a person when they offer a lame beneift of "it's so much less maintenance." They aren't. Modern drive trains are incredibly reliable. I wish they would just admit it's for fashion. Then I would just think it was their choice.

*I agree with you once again. Ride what you got. And keep it cheap. My road bike is 6 years old, and will be fine for another decade. Mix it up and have a nice time. Buying something too expensive makes you nervous about damage and theft.

*For the oil I would honestly say that WD-40 works fine. If you want to step it up a notch use Gt 85   http://www.gt85.co.uk/  I've used it for years and it is available in your local bike store. But honestly, WD-40 is fine. Just don't tell the bike police!

*I do think that the bike mechanics have a point, but they are confusing correlation with causation. The bikes that have been lubbed with WD-40 come in an awful state. So they make a connection between trashed bikes and gunked chains. But I personally think it's really a situation of those who use WD-40 don't know how to maintain a bike.
3 in 1 oil also makes an oil just for electric motors.
I have also maintained larger electric motors at work that take 20WT non-detergent oil for their bearings,

I see this is 6 years old, but for the sake of preventing misinformation for whoever is reading- NEVER USE WD-40 ON ELECTRIC MOTORS!! WD-40 is made for breaking loose nuts and bolts and preventing rust. It will TEMPORARILY (like 5 minutes) free up an electric motor, after which it dries and DOES make it WORSE off than it was before. It'll dry out and burn up into a thick sticky gum. WD-40 is good for what its made for, which does not include lubricating ANY type of motor, no matter how high or low cost. There's oil made for electric motors and it isnt hard to find. Anyone who keeps saying WD-40 can be used on high speed moving parts obviously hasn't seen what happens when you do that.

I'll be as nice as I can muster. Leebryuk, did your half-a$$ed opinion help ANY one? Now, why on Earth would you go through all the trouble of breathing new life into it if you're just going to use ether in the resuscitation bag? If you have a job to do, it's worth doing right the first time.

my_key leebryuk6 years ago
Why not. It learned me something I didn't knew :) I already suspected that the lubrication of WD-40 was pretty volatile, since I noticed that yesterday while trying to lube something. But thanks to you guys I know about the Water Displacement. Thanks. I'm a happy man now.
jgodsey (author)  tmasman6 years ago
Where's the love for Marvel Mystery Oil? always have a bit of that stuff around.
My dad used Marvel in his air tools to keep them lubed up.
Use WD-40 first, then follow up with a 'real oil' and you are good to go in most cases. Light oils like musicians use or sewing machine oil. Motor oils tend to be heavier.
easy..pull the blade,or unscrew and remove it if it is made that way. apply ANY decent oil,3 in 1,or even a little engine oil. the trick is to pull the shaft out,and then push it in and turn it at the same time to work the oiul into the motor's bushings,they get dry and then the oil has to get "pushed" in there (more like smeared) but trust me when it gets lubed you'll feel the shaft spin sooooo much easily,also runs ALOT cooler. just a drop at a time on the shaft and let gravity help you,as you pull the shaft back and forth...not much give but any fore and aft play,you can get the oil to fall into place.
I second this. All cheap fans--be they box, desktop, stand, or ceiling--have basically the same motor inside. Take the fan blades off, and look at where the shaft enters the motor. You will see some gunk built up. That is the old oil that has attracted hair and dirt. Just slide it up and off the shaft. Put a couple of drops of a lightweight oil (sewing machine oil works well, but WD-40 will work in a pinch) around the shaft and spin it to get it worked into the motor. Then look on the back. Chances are, you won't be able to see the other end of the shaft from all the gunk. Clean that too. Put a couple more drops of oil around the shaft here and spin to distribute. Now, tilt the fan forwards and backwards--the shaft should slide in and out a TINY amount. If it doesn't, or it sticks just add more oil and spin some more.
I am replying to my own comment to say that you should only use WD40 in an absolute emergency, or when it stops spinning entirely. WD40 is not a lubricant, but it does work to get things moving again when they are stuck.
I agree with everything but the WD-40. It "sorta" works, but it's not designed as a lubricant (common misconception) it's actually designed as a penetrating oil to remove water, what little lubrication it provides is usually temporary and not really what I'd call good. That said, it's better than nothing, but I'd just use tri-flow or sewing machine oil as spokehedz suggests.
WD-40=Water Displacement Formula 40.
I would not recommend WD 40. One time I had a small motor and I used WD 40 to lubricate the shaft. I let it sit for 2 day's and when I wanted to use it the shaft and the bushing ( bearing ) corroded together.
Perxactly.
Indubitubly.
If you have a kid in a band, using 'valve' or trombone 'slide' oil works well. On other horn slides they use a grease (Vaseline like). Trombone slide oil is actually lighter than trumpet or French horn valve oil.
Mihsin1 month ago

I have a similar window fan like this since 1965. It still runs well. Good old USA work and an appriciative owner.

By the way, it's a 110v-60Hz. Crossed the ocean with me in 1967 to Lebanon, Middle East, and now it's running on less than 200v and about 40Hz. Crazy!

I opened my fan up, cleaned it out. It wasn't very dusty or dirty to begin with. It still will not go when I turn it on.

It is a Lasko B20201. Lasko will not sell replacement parts. I think it may need a new fuse?

I'm about to give in and throw this out, and buy a new one. Last resort! Suggestions?

http://www.surpluscenter.com/Electrical/AC-Motors/...

Five dollars, cheaper than a new fan, plus its probably a better motor (most fans now have a really tiny motor with an equally tiny life span)
I don't work for these people but I'll promote a good deal when I see one. Unless there's only one, then you gotta get to it before I do :)

Also, "Glory Bright Corporation Ltd.," the motor manufacturer, is a wholesaler, I think. Boy, manufacturers don't make it easy these days, do they?

jamesrdell1 year ago
vacuuming works really good
daemoncan1 year ago
Regarding bearing lubrication: I have found that using petroleum-based lubricants (sewing machine oil, etc) usually ends up with gummed up works in short order. Something to do with the bronze sleeve bearings in many fan motors getting mildly eaten away. I typically use a synthetic lube (Super-Lube or equivalent). Lasts much longer.
When I took apart my twin fan, I had to, when I couldn't go any further, break one of the clips that holds it together. I had to pry it out with a flathead screwdriver. Then the rest of it disassembled, and I finished cleaning it. I still use the broken clip to put it back together, it just doesn't hold it together as tightly at that point, but all the screws hold everything together just fine! You could probably find a metal or plastic clip at a hardware store to replace the broken clip, though. Or make one. I really think the company makes it so that it can't be disassembled, in order to get us to buy another one!! But I'll keep my broken clip and my money. It looks like new after a complete disassemble and cleaning.
m1sterb0b6 years ago
I would like to add something to this step. My dad has a box fan that was his dads. Thing is really old. It stopped working because he left it out in his pole barn and the dampness got to it. It would hum so we knew that the coils were getting electricity in the motor but it just wouldn't turn, so I knew it was the bearings. I opened the motor and I cleaned the dust out of it. I can't remember how I did, I want to say I used WD40 but I'm not sure. Maybe I just cleaned it out with a brush, but I did the same to the bearings. I then put some heavier motor lubricant on the bearings and I worked them around a bit, then I stuck the motor back together and I put a little more lube on the bearings and I worked the motor around a little, plugged it in and it turned on and it works as good as new now.
wd40 is not something you should ever use on a motor. it isn't a oil. it never has been an oil. You could have a fire using it as a oil on a motor.
metlcutter3 years ago
Kroil is one of the best lubricants I've used for situations like this.
Kroil is actually a penetrating oil for loosening frozen fasteners and shafts. It may be good for freeing a fan motor that has become stuck due to thickened lubricant, but Kroil isn't advertised as being a lubricant. The stuff is water-thin, and I would expect a clean bearing running with nothing but Kroil to burn up in short order.
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