Our bathroom exhaust fan is located on our second floor bathroom. It's the original installed in 1986. Suddenly, it started to make an unbearably loud noise upon operation. So loud that the sound made a downstairs kitchen sink faucet fixture shake.

An additional unsettling thing about this fan is that this horrible noise starts up spontaneously. We are not in this bathroom and the sound starts.

We think we've discovered a way to curb the horror once it starts: Strongly depress a light switch (which has nothing to do with this fan) --and the noise stops.

Please help! This is scaring me!

  • 2
    Sounds like the fan's bearings are going. 30 years of spinning; you'd probably be pretty worn out, too. – Daniel Griscom Mar 28 '16 at 11:35
  • what sort of noise? humming, buzzing, cracking, scraping, banging? – Ben Welborn Mar 28 '16 at 17:22

If the switch that you are depressing is in the same box as the connection (or switch for the fan), then perhaps your pushing is causing wires inside the switchbox to wiggle; if there is a bad connection or short for the fan in the box, the partial current to the fan could cause the motor to make a buzzing noise.

A good thing to do is, first turn off the breaker, and open the switch box. Check for signs of damage and check/tighten the connections.


Bathroom exhaust fans can get lint built up on them so thick it affects there performance.

It sounds like when you fan runs it is vibrating badly because the fan is imbalanced. Try removing the trim ring and thoroughly cleaning the fan including the blades.

If it comes on without anyone turning it on, it might be that the switch that controls it is going bad. I find it strange that any other switch could somehow affect its operation.

Good luck!


The most important thing to do, since it sounds like you're not well versed in electricity, etc... is to get a qualified person in there to disconnect (and replace) that fan immediately. Most of them were made by one company who has lost at least one lawsuit that I'm aware of for fires caused by fan failures. There are a number of possibilities for it's phantom operation, which can all be remedied by a decent electrician but get that fan out of there ASAP.

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