Introduction: How to Take Apart a Case Fan

Picture of How to Take Apart a Case Fan

I thought it would be helpful to some to put together a quick but informative instructable on how to take a case fan (or any computer fan for that matter) apart down to the bearings and motor assembly.

This way you can soak/clean/wash the fan blades without risking damage to the pcb from immersing it in liquids. You can oil it too afterwards if you like.

And yes, this applies to all computer fans of all sizes, however be warned, the smaller computer fans (such as those found on GPU's) are a lot trickier to pull the ring off to remove the fan blades.

Step 1: Remove the Restriction Ring

Picture of Remove the Restriction Ring

As you can see, you want to remove the white plastic ring from around the end of the axel. A pair of tweezers or the tip of a thin pocket knife also works, however be careful not to break the ring, as you'll need to for later when you put the fan back together.

Also, some case fans have metal clasps instead of plastic, I'll try to get a picture of one later this week.

Step 2: Clean the Fan

Picture of Clean the Fan

Now for the fun part, everyone has their own methods, and depending on the build up it may need anything from a blast of air from an air compressor to soaking it to remove the caked up gunk

This isn't something I recommend doing a half-ass job on, as you'll only be taking it apart a month later because all the dust you left on the fan will collect even more dust, especially if it's still wet when you start using it again.

I myself soak the fan blades in a secret blend of hydrochloric acid and rubbing alcohol (I'm only joking about the former).

Step 3: Re-assemble

Picture of Re-assemble

Now that you have your fan all spankin clean, it's time to put it back together. I couldn't find my oil today so I didn't include the picture/indivigual step for it. However note in the pictures below where to put a couple dabs of oil.

Step 4: Does It Work?

Picture of Does It Work?

Of course it does! The fan doesn't make any noise now, and even better, there's no dust for the led's to make completely obvious. I hope I help some people out with this!


Yonatan24 (author)2015-12-15

You might want to rename this Instructable's title, Such as something that has "Clean a computer fan"

Derin (author)2009-01-30

Also,don't underestimate cleaned and oiled fans.One hurt me,and got blood involved.

Punkguyta (author)Derin2009-01-30

How exactly are you gonna cut yourself on a plastic case fan?

ThomasD39 (author)Punkguyta2015-11-28

I cut myself on case fans alot, mostly when tinkering with my very glitchy audio setup. I'll go to hold on to part of the pc, and OWW it was that giant fan going at <1000 RPM. Right under the fingernail.

Derin (author)Punkguyta2009-01-30

At 3000 rpm it can cut me on the edge.Just say I accidentally touched the edge of the blades....

Punkguyta (author)Derin2009-01-31

I have a 7300rpm thermaltake fan on my AMD's cpu, I've stopped it more than once with my index finger, sans blood. I still have no idea what you're talking about unless you have the skin of a 80 year old.

Derin (author)Punkguyta2009-01-31

But you touched the middle,right?

Punkguyta (author)Derin2009-02-02

No, this is what I have, as you can see, you can't touch the middle part of the rotor to slow it down. I've put my finger right in there where the spokes turn several times both accidently and not on accident. I didn't even get a scratch.

zack247 (author)Punkguyta2009-09-26

man, that is the BEST heatsink EVER!! now im jealous cause i don't have one

Punkguyta (author)zack2472009-09-27

I have actually since removed this heatsink from my computer because it was too loud for my liking, I shouldn't have to turn my stereo up half way to drown out the sound of the fan.

zack247 (author)Punkguyta2009-09-27

well, i had a really loud fan, but i cleaned it, now you can't even tell it's there! its amazing!

Punkguyta (author)zack2472009-09-29

Actually no, it's just a really loud fan out of the box.

zack247 (author)Punkguyta2009-09-29

i still want one.

Plasmana (author)Punkguyta2009-02-05

Now, imagine the fans are spinning in the opposite direction...

sdallesasse (author)Punkguyta2009-02-01

If he touched the wrong side of the fan, the blade would slice into and not away from the finger.

Punkguyta (author)sdallesasse2009-02-02

Shouldn't really matter where you put your finger in, all the blades still rotate in the same direction. And I still haven't cut myself off a fan, that's why I think it sounds rediculous, sorry if It's not.

humrattle (author)Punkguyta2009-09-28

Just this evening I nearly sliced the tip off of my middle finger while i was testing a potentiometer connected to a DELTA PFB0912DHE (8000RPM). It can happen, blood, pain, and all. Be careful with high speed fans no matter what they are made of.

smn368 (author)Derin2009-03-07

i sliced the tip of my finger off with a huge 150mm case fan (it had metal blades)

btnheazy03 made it! (author)2015-05-24

My power supply started overheating one day-- I thought it was simply dust build-up, but it turns out the cooler fan stopped spinning at all!! I removed the power supply and took it apart. I felt a lot of friction even manually turning the fan!!

This guide helped me take it apart and clean it! My tower works normally again. =]


einstienusama (author)2015-03-11

Any method to remove the axle from the blade ???
i tried alot to safely remove it ,but every time the blade breaks

zack247 (author)2010-08-03

lol. the kernels secret blend of 11 herbs and spices... mmmmmm... great info! and would sewing machine oil work for lubing the fan?

computer_guy (author)2010-01-10

Green gloW~

computer_guy (author)2010-01-10

ewww.... that's dirty... LoL

SoulNefarious (author)2009-07-11

Yo, when I took apart my fan I kinda... misplaced... the restriction ring. Do i have to make another one or is my case fan fine without it? Im using it as a side case fan, so if the blades somehow fly off, the case will stop them and they'll be nowhere to go. Thanks for a response.

Punkguyta (author)SoulNefarious2009-07-11

I lost one once too and Im running that same fan in either my pc or my server, not sure which, but there are no problems.

SoulNefarious (author)Punkguyta2009-07-11

Sweet, thanks. lol, I was afraid the blade might fly out and boomerang inside my new pc build XD

Dipankar (author)2009-06-22

Excellent idea of servicing the fan. I got an extra SMPS fan which I fixed on top of my Monitor and connected it to my PC power socket, now I get air when I switch on my PC.

Punkguyta (author)Dipankar2009-06-22

SMPS fan? What's that? And that's a good idea, are you using it to cool a crt monitor?

Dipankar (author)Punkguyta2009-06-23

Swiched Mode Power Supply (SMPS) This is where the AC supply first comes to your PC. There it is converted to DC and voltage of 3, 5 and 12 are supplied to various components of the PC. It has a powerful fan which can be used for various purpose.

Punkguyta (author)Dipankar2009-06-24

Gahhhh, only send me one message man. Check your pm's

Dipankar (author)Punkguyta2009-06-23

Switched Mode Power Supply (SMPS) This is where the AC supply first comes to your PC. here it is converted to DC and voltage of 3, 5 and 12 are supplied to various components of your PC. It has a very powerfull fan which can be used for various purpose.

Dr.Bill (author)2009-02-13

Just used your Instructable on a fan I'm turning into an anemometer. Thank you.

Punkguyta (author)Dr.Bill2009-02-13

Sweet deal, let me know how it goes for you!

Dr.Bill (author)Punkguyta2009-02-13

I just got the blade off and the fins trimmed off and put it back together. All I need now is plastic easter eggs for wind cups. Thanks again Dr. Bill

Plasmana (author)2009-02-05

Wow, i wish I had this information a few years before, I had already ripped up my fan accidentally by trying to get the blades... I will try again... Thanks for this great instructable! 5 stars!

Punkguyta (author)Plasmana2009-02-05

No prob, I'm glad my instructable was of any use to you!

Scott_Tx (author)2009-01-20

I like to use grease instead of oil, it lasts a lot longer before needing re-lubed.

Punkguyta (author)Scott_Tx2009-01-20

I suppose.. But the only place you could really use grease properly would be when you had the fan prop removed and rub the shaft with grease. Just shoving it into the end cap under the sticker will not only do no good (how is it supposed to seep into the bearing? they aren't open bearings, they have covers around them) But not only that, when you do need to re-do them, it's a mess to clean out I could imagine. I haven't tried it, but I think perhaps a light grease would be good for the fan shaft and use oil for the bearings (actually I guess I forgot to mention how I take the bearings out and soak them in a container of oil, does wonders.)

Scott_Tx (author)Punkguyta2009-01-20

It does work itself in if you put it on the end, I've done it many many times that way but only if its spinnable. If its completely seized up you have to take it apart.

Punkguyta (author)Scott_Tx2009-01-21

yeah I've had a couple completely locked up fans, but soaking the bearings usually fixes that up pretty quick.

Derin (author)Punkguyta2009-01-28

Mine provides some resistance to my hand,but it turns.

Derin (author)Derin2009-01-28

The motor does not turn it by itself.

Punkguyta (author)Derin2009-01-28

No it doesn't, when did I say that? The motor is built into the rotor ( the fan blades).

Derin (author)Punkguyta2009-01-29

I know,I meant the prop does not turn by itself.

Derin (author)2009-01-28

Thanks a lot!I will use this to clean my PC fan that got so dirty it is stuck.I will do it in the weekend though.

Punkguyta (author)Derin2009-01-28

If it's really grimy, make sure to give it a good cleaning.

HamO (author)2009-01-19

Well done and not a single four letter word in the whole thing.

Punkguyta (author)HamO2009-01-20

I see quite a few man.

j626no (author)2009-01-19

the fan on my video card is noisy as hell, and i think there's something in it. the only problem is the fan is not removable from the card....any suggestions?

Punkguyta (author)j626no2009-01-19

The fan is most likely removable. It had to be attached in the first place right? I'm listening to my Ati all in wonder card's fan making grinding noises, and of all fans in my computer, this tiny thing is the loudest. However, if my fan is anything like yours, it's some kind of "hydro-electric" hybrid fan of some kind. The motor assembely definetly looks a bit different, and if you push on the fan blades while they're still attached, you should notice they rock from side to side (unlike a 80mm case fan). If you're still unsure, send/PM me a picture and I'll point out what you need to remove and how to remove it. By the way, removing the fan will most likely involve removing the heatsink aswell. It's a good time to clean up your gpu and put good thermal paste on there instead of the white ceramic paste gunk that the OEM's are surprisingly STILL using. I've seen that stuff stain the black plastic around my server's nvidea card.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm one hell of a guy, what can I say, hey and as a human being, I even feature a cranial capacity of 1350cc ... More »
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