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Bathroom runs for a couple minutes and then turns off

Hello, over the last several days my bathroom exhaust fan will shut off after running for about 2 minutes.  If I ignore it (hard to do) it will eventually come back on.  If I flip the switch off and on repeatedly, it doesn't affect it.  

I noticed if I turn the switch off, I can actually hear a click when it's ready to be turned back on (prob. occurs either way, just can't hear it with the fan motor engaging when switch is on).

Would that indicate a fuse or something?  

I also have tried cleaning it out with canned air (removing dust bunnies), and lubricating the fan a little bit with some spray on lube stuff I have.  This hasn't seemed to affect it at all.

Here's another weird detail: the same unit has a heat lamp.  I removed the heat lamp bulb yesterday (which we never really use, but it does work) and now it's acting WAY better.  I mean it will stay on for 20 - 30 mins at a time instead of 2 - 3, but it still occasionally will click off for a minute or two.

Again, this just started happening about 4 - 5 days ago, but I'm certain that removing that bulb did something.  I just don't know what, because it's still occurring, just far less.  It never did this before that.  

Any ideas what it could be?  

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Posted 2015-08-07T09:25:33+0000  by adamp916 adamp916
Shoot is there a way to edit my post?  Title should say "Bathroom _FAN_"...  Thanks/sorry
Posted 2015-08-07T09:27:39+0000  by adamp916
Hello adamp916.  Welcome to the Community!

Usually when a bathroom fan makes a clicking sound, it is continuous while running due to a fan blade contacting the chassis, or intermittent due to wind picking up the vent damper and clanking it on the housing.  What you describe sounds more like a relay, and I have never seen a relay inside a bath fan.  No purpose I know of for one really.  

Motors, as they wear out, can hum, fail to start, lock up or make horrible continuous bearing noises while running.  I'm afraid I have no good answer for you at this point.

What might help would be to supply a manufacturer and model number for your fan.  We might be able to look up a schematic or a parts listing and see if anything unusual is built into your fan.  Some newer models use DC motors, which will involve more complicated circuitry than your standard fan.

As a rule though, when bath fans start making noises or stop working, their low cost usually means the simple solution would be to replace them.  Motor bearings are rarely able to be lubricated, and brushes are not typically field replaceable.


Posted 2015-08-07T19:17:33+0000  by Chris_HD_CHI
Without knowing what make/model of fan you have I can say with 100% certainty but I would suspect there is a thermostat in there that protects the fan from overheating.  That's what you're hearing click.  The thermostat could be failing or the fan is actually overheating.  I think by removing the light bulb you just gave the thermostat more "air space" which made it [over] heat more slowly.

The first step is to identify the manufacturer and model # of this fan and then check to see if there is a thermostat in there.  Do you have access to the duct work for the fan or it's discharge point?  If you do, it might be worth the effort to inspect the duct work to ensure it hasn't collapsed or is clogged, both may lead to over heating of the motor.
Posted 2015-08-08T00:21:06+0000  by Adam444
Thank you everyone for your replies.  I'm by no means an expert on electrical stuff (hardly a novice), but Adam444 I think you might be on to something with your theory.  That's kinda what it reminds me of, a thermostat click or something.  I will get the model information off the unit and reply back.  I don't think it's too old (maybe 5 years'ish) - it doesn't really make any odd sounds besides the little rattle it's always had.


Posted 2015-08-08T08:32:45+0000  by adamp916
Broan/NuTone generally have replacement parts available for their fans and if your model is similar to the one I'm thinking of, a thermostat runs about $11 plus shipping.  While you're up there getting the model number, see if the fan spins freely.  Obviously, make sure the power is off.  That may give you some idea if it's the thermostat or the fan motor itself.

If the fan is noisy and that bothers you, fans have gotten MUCH quieter in recent years.  Panasonic makes some amazingly quiet fans but they're pretty expensive and they don't have one for a retrofit application (if you don't have access to the space above the fan).  Broan/NuTone also have some better fans as well.
Posted 2015-08-08T09:20:25+0000  by Adam444
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