Keeping Cool: How to Keep Those Cheap Box Fans You Buy Going for Years to Come

Box fans. Noisy things aren’t they? But, we all buy them because they’re cheaper than an air conditioner, they’re disposable, and they keep air flowing on us to keep us cool during those hot summer months when it can reach above the 100-degree mark. Admittedly, like most equiment in the house, it can collect dust, and that dust can be a real killer on parts, such as the motor, in these fans. But, why can’t I just go out an buy a new one when it burns out, you might ask? You could do that, but the life expectantcy on these box fans are only about a year or two, (with two being the high end), and if you keep them constantly running all the time like I do in my home, that can mean more wear and tear on the motor, it could overheat and short out, and other things.

In this small how-to guide that I have put together, I am going to teach you how to keep these fans going as well as help you save the small pocket change that you have in your jar collecting up for that special something that you may have been looking at for the last six months. You will need a few things, and these everyone should have laying about the house. They are as follows:

1) A Phillips-head screwdriver

2) A bathtub

3) A garden hose

4) A cloth

5) Two or three bath towels

6) Oxy-Clean or Bleach (* Oxy-Clean, preferably)

Now, before you panic and think ‘what the heck is this guy doing, trying to get me electrocuted?’, please just bear with me as I will explain everything. This may look like an accident waiting to happen, but trust me, you will be thanking me for it once I explain.

First step: Clear a large area either in your house or carport where you will be able to lay things out so that they will be able to air dry. Get an old coffee can for the screws to the front and back screens of the fan. Fill your bathtub up full and add just a little bit of either Oxy-Clean or bleach. About half a scoop or so will do. (*If you are doing it in the carport, you can do a bucket-and rag technique, but it is time consuming, and the tub will allow the screens to soak for a bit and get all of the dust loose from the small gaps in-between).

Next Step: Unplug you fan. Take your screwdriver and take off the front and back screens and place the screws in a safe place as you will need them later to re-attach them. Remove the fan blade and set it in the bathtub with the screens and let them soak for about fifteen or twenty minutes. (Note: Oxy-Clean is better for the cleaning than the bleach. The bleach is a substitute. If using bleach, cut the time in half as the bleach may eat the plastic and soften it.) After the dust has loosened, take your rag and wipe away the muck from the fan blades and the gaps in the screens. After you are satisfied with how it looks, take the items outside or wherever you have made your work area and allow them to completely air-dry.

Third Step: Take a garden hose and spray out the motor (* Note: When doing this, take into account that you will have to allow the motor and housing to air-dry for several hours, if not most of the day, to ensure that the motor is completely dry. Doing this on a warmer day is best as it will cut down the drying time. If you are uncomfortable with this, a simple wet-dry vacuum or the nozzle on your standard house vacuum will do. Make sure that you are even careful with the vacuum as it could unwind the coils in the motor.)

Last Step: After everything has had ample time to dry, reassemble the fan blade and screens. (* Note: The fan blade has a metal peg that it sits on , so it should be easy to find. If it is an oscillating fan, the peg will be smaller, and the screens will be a little easier to follow the first three steps with. However, do not spray out the motor with the hose on these. Thier casings are self-contained and will hold the water like a glass!)before plugging it in, let it dry just a few minutes longer in the sun ust to make sure that all of the excess water has evaporated.

When you turn it on, it should be running a lot smoother and pumping out air more efficiently. If it does not turn over, that means that you did not give the motor enough drying time and the coils have shorted out. Please be reminded, this is a time-waster, and as it may seem like a mundane job, remind yourself it will save you hundreds of dollars over the years. Good luck and happy saving!

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