Our Nutone bathroom fan (no light) is cutting out. We have a timer switch (10 mins, 20 mins, and so on) and the fan will start but will often shut off after two minutes. Before calling an electrician I'd like to try and solve this myself - I'm not sure if it's the switch or the fan as both seem to be "working".

  • What's your question? Sounds like a problem with the timer. Take it out of the circuit and see what happens. There's nothing here that you can't easily do yourself if you're somewhat familiar with wiring and safety.
    – isherwood
    Commented May 23 at 18:22
  • Well i'm not sure if it's the fan or if it's the switch itself.
    – Todd
    Commented May 23 at 18:39
  • 2
    Hence my suggestion to take it out of the circuit. This is fundamental troubleshooting. Disconnect the switch wires and remove it, then connect the wires in the box. Power off, of course.
    – isherwood
    Commented May 23 at 18:44
  • Okay thanks, i'm new at this -
    – Todd
    Commented May 23 at 19:35

2 Answers 2


Pull the cover down from the ceiling and look for a 2 prong plug.

These can come loose from vibration. It may just be barely making a connection and after a couple of minutes the connection opens and the fan stops.

Push the plug in tight. If it will not go in tight and feels loose, slightly bending the blades can help.

  • This also illustrates how easy it is to replace the fan motor with a new one. They are designed to be plug and play. Commented May 24 at 5:08

It could be that the fan is overheating, or that the timer is bad.

  • First check the timer: usually, it is possible to turn the knob backwards (counterclockwise), to keep the fan on continuously. Do that to eliminate a faulty timer mechanism as the cause of the issue.
  • If the fan shuts after a few minutes, even with the timer set for continuous duty, then likely the fan is overheating.

It usually is fairly easy to remove the fan (sometimes as simple as removing one retaining screw on the grille, then squeezing the bracket together that hold the fan in the box and unplugging it).

Remove the fan and thoroughly clean it (e.g., using auto brake cleaner outdoors, and scrub gently with toothbrush -- use eye protection!). Put a few drops of auto engine oil in the bearing holders, and reassemble. Spin the fan by hand; it should turn freely. If that works, the fix should last for years.

However, if that does not fix the issue, likely a replacement fan is needed -- and easy to install with the practice from disassembly. ;-)

  • Thanks alot! This helps
    – Todd
    Commented May 24 at 11:22

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