Attic Fan Not Working? Troubleshooting 7 Common Problems

Signs that Your Attic Fan is Not Working

Attic fans can be a real breeze when it comes to keeping your home cool and your spirits high. Like any other machine, attics fans can fail, and it is essential to know when it happens.

Let’s discuss the importance of attic fans, the signs that your attic fan is not working, and how you can fix it.

Key Takeaways

  • Attic fans help reduce energy bills, improve indoor air quality, and extend the lifespan of your roof and insulation.
  • Signs that your attic fan is not working include: a fan motor running but the blades do not move, little to no airflow, an increase in temperature in the attic, excessive humidity in the attic, dust buildup, loud noise, and a burning smell from the attic fan.
  • Four steps to diagnose the problem are to check the electrical connection, inspect the fan blades, check the thermostat, and examine the ducts and vents.
  • Regular maintenance of the attic fan includes cleaning and replacing the fan blades, checking the wiring connections, and inspecting the ducts and vents for any damage

7 Signs That Your Attic Fan is Not Working

Sometimes machines break down with no warning. Here are seven signs that your attic fan is not functioning correctly:

  1. Fan Motor Runs, but Blades Do Not Move: If the fan motor is running, but the blades are not moving, there could be a problem with the fan blades or the engine itself.
  2. Little to No Airflow: If you are not getting any significant airflow from your attic fan, it could be due to a clogged duct or a problem with the fan motor.
  3. Increase in temperature in the attic: If you notice that the temperature in your attic has increased significantly, it could be a sign that your attic fan is not working.
  4. Really Humid: Excessive humidity in your attic can indicate that your attic fan is not working correctly.
  5. Dust Buildup: If there is an accumulation of dust and debris in your attic, it could be a sign that your attic fan is not working.
  6. Attic Fan Making Loud Noise: If your attic fan makes a loud noise, it could indicate a problem with the fan motor or blades.
  7. Burning Smell from Attic Fan: If you smell a burning odor from your attic fan, it could be a sign of a severe electrical issue, and it is essential to turn off the fan immediately.

Diagnosing the Problem Further:

It’s essential to start with the basics to diagnose the problem with your attic fan. Here are four steps to help you identify the issue:

Check the Electrical Connection

  1. Before beginning, turn off the power by turning off the circuit breaker or unplugging the fan.
  2. Locate the wiring connections near the fan motor or junction box and inspect them for looseness, damage, or loss.
  3. Tighten any loose connections by hand but be careful not to over-tighten them.
  4. If you find any damage, replace the wires or connections with the help of a professional electrician, as electrical work can be dangerous for those unfamiliar with proper safety procedures.
  5. After the inspection, you can turn the power back on.

Inspect the Fan Blades

  1. Turn the power off to the fan.
  2. Locate the fan blades on the fan motor.
  3. If the fan blades are not moving, inspect them for any visible damage, such as cracks, chips, or bent blades. Also, you should ensure no debris blocking the fan blades, such as insulation, dust, or cobwebs, can accumulate on the blades and prevent them from rotating properly. Do not use any abrasive materials, as this could damage the blades.
  4. After this process, you can turn the power back on.

Check the Thermostat

The thermostat is typically located near the fan motor or junction box and is connected to the fan wiring, controlling its operation.

  1. Before testing, make sure you set the thermostat to the correct temperature.
  2. To test the thermostat, use a multimeter to measure the voltage at the connections and observe if it changes with the temperature.
  3. If the voltage does not change, you may need to replace the thermostat. If the voltage changes but the fan still doesn’t turn on, check the wiring connections at the thermostat to ensure they are tight and secure.
  4. If the connections are secure and the thermostat still does not work, it may need to be replaced.

As with electrical work, it is best to seek the assistance of a professional electrician if you need help.

Examine the Ducts and Vents

The ducts and vents are typically located near the fan and connected to it through flexible ductwork.

  1. Turn the power off.
  2. To diagnose potential issues, look for obstructions blocking airflow, such as insulation, debris, or bird nests.
  3. Remove the obstructions using a long-handled brush or vacuum cleaner.
  4. Also, inspect the ducts and vents for any signs of damage, such as cracks, holes, or tears, and repair or replace them if necessary.
  5. After clearing the obstructions and checking for damage, ensure the ducts and vents correctly ventilate the attic so that air can flow freely through them.
  6. Turn the power back on.

Maintenance Tips for Your Attic Fan

It is crucial to perform regular maintenance to keep your attic fan working correctly. Here are some tips for maintaining your attic fan:

  1. Cleaning the fan blades: Dust and debris can accumulate on the fan blades over time, decreasing the fan’s efficiency. Clean the blades regularly with a soft cloth to remove any buildup.
  2. Replacing the fan blades: Over time, the fan blades may become damaged or worn. If this occurs, replacing them as soon as possible is essential to ensure that the fan continues to work effectively.
  3. Lubricating the motor: The motor powers the fan, so it is vital to keep it lubricated to reduce friction and wear. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the type of lubricant and how often you should apply it.
  4. Checking the wiring: The wiring that powers the fan should be checked regularly to ensure it is in good condition and properly connected. If there are any frayed or broken wires, they will need to be repaired or replaced.

When to Call a Professional

While a homeowner can do some essential maintenance and repairs, there are some situations where it is best to call a professional. Do not be afraid to call a profession regardless!

Complex electrical issues: If you are having trouble with the electrical connection or the thermostat, it is best to call a professional. An electrician can diagnose and repair the problem more efficiently than a homeowner.

Serious structural problems: If your attic has serious structural issues, such as a leak or damage to the roof, it is best to call a professional. A contractor can assess the damage and make any necessary repairs.

Inadequate insulation: If your attic needs adequate insulation, it can be easier for the fan to circulate air effectively. A professional can assess the insulation and make recommendations for improvement.

Inefficient fan design: If your attic fan is not designed to meet your specific needs, it may not work as effectively. A professional can assess your needs and recommend a more efficient fan.


Regular checks and maintenance can help keep the attic fan running smoothly and prevent costly repairs while also improving the comfort and health of your home.

Suppose you encounter complex electrical issues, severe structural problems, inadequate insulation, or inefficient fan design. In that case, it’s best to seek the help of a professional for proper repair and maintenance.

Regularly check the performance of your attic fan to ensure it is working correctly. By following these steps, you can understand the signs of a faulty fan, such as increased temperature, lack of airflow, and strange noises.


What is an Attic Fan?

An attic fan is an exhaust fan installed on the roof or ceiling of your attic. Its purpose is to remove hot air and moisture from your attic, creating a more comfortable living environment for you and your family. Attic fans come in several types, including belt-driven, direct-driven, and solar-powered. Each type has its benefits. So, choosing one best suited to your needs is essential.

The benefits of using attic fans include reduced energy bills, improved indoor air quality, and extended lifespan of your roof and insulation. Attic fans also help prevent moisture buildup, which can cause mold, mildew, and other structural problems.

How do I know if my attic fan is running?

To check if your attic fan is working, listen for its sound or feel for airflow in the attic. A steady flow of air from the vents or louvers indicates the fan is functioning. Some attic fans have a thermostat or humidistat that automatically turns them on. Also, check the power source and inspect the fan for visible signs of movement or vibration.

Do attic fans turn on automatically?

Some attic fans come equipped with a thermostat or humidistat that automatically turns them on when the temperature or humidity in the attic reaches a certain level. However, not all attic fans have this feature, and they may require manual operation. Additionally, the automatic feature can be turned off or overridden.

What temperature should an attic fan come on?

The ideal temperature for an attic fan to come on will depend on factors such as the climate and insulation of the attic space. As a general rule, attic fans should come on when the temperature in the attic reaches around 100°F to 110°F (38°C to 43°C) to help prevent heat buildup and reduce the load on air conditioning units. However, some attic fans come equipped with a thermostat that you can adjust to suit your preferences.

Does an attic fan bring in outside air?

Attic fans are designed to expel hot air from the attic but may also draw in outside air to replace the vented air. The amount of outdoor air brought in will depend on factors such as the fan’s design and installation and the attic space’s ventilation. Some attic fans are designed to work in tandem with soffit or roof vents to help facilitate airflow through the attic.

How do you make sure your attic is properly ventilated?

To ensure your attic is adequately ventilated, you should inspect the existing ventilation system to ensure it is functioning correctly and not obstructed. Adequate ventilation can be achieved through intake vents (such as soffit or gable vents) and exhaust vents (such as ridge vents or attic fans) that facilitate airflow. Additionally, adding insulation to the attic floor can help prevent heat transfer and reduce the need for excessive ventilation.