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Mini Ask /.: What should I do about a noisy heatsink fan?

Bill Dog (726542) writes | more than 2 years ago

Hardware Hacking 4

It started all of a sudden last night, upon awakening the computer. My PC is right around 3 years old.

I'm pretty sure it's the fan on my video card. I don't play video games anymore [altho I couldn't resist checking out that online Wolfenstein thing and playing that for a while one night] so this one is just the mid to low end of nVidia's "business graphics" line of cards. (So maybe I don't even need the fan?)

It started all of a sudden last night, upon awakening the computer. My PC is right around 3 years old.

I'm pretty sure it's the fan on my video card. I don't play video games anymore [altho I couldn't resist checking out that online Wolfenstein thing and playing that for a while one night] so this one is just the mid to low end of nVidia's "business graphics" line of cards. (So maybe I don't even need the fan?)

I vacuumed it out as best as I could with what I've got (large extension on a huge Hoover), but no change. It wouldn't be so aggravating it if was at least constant in its new loudness.

Anyone reading this know if this can be fixed? Should I go buy some compressed air and try it? Or is it probably just some (cheap) bearing(s) going out? I had a new fan noise in my computer about a year ago, but it was just a dust bunny in the CPU fan I think, and it stopped making noise once I sucked it out.

Is there a way to re-lube these things (that's not going to end up dripping oil on the rest of my system/scattering graphite dust when in place!)? I could take the card out and take it into the Geek Squad or something, if the labor charged was not near what a new card costed.

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noisy cooling fan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40054687)

Yhe first thing to try would be to send an email to the tech support department for the card manufacturer. Ask if you can purchase a replacement fan.

If that fails, check to see if there is a label stuck on the center of the fan. If there is, try to very gently to remove enough of the label to see if the center of the fan hub has a hole or a rubber plug. If there is a plug, remove it with a small flat blade screwdriver to expose the hole.

Add a drop of 3in1 oil, or WD40 into the hole. With your finger rotate the fan blades to help the oil disperse into the bushing (or bearing). Blot any excess oil and replace the plug (if there as one). If there was a sticker there, you can usually stick it back in place to cover the hole. The surface of the fan where the sticker goes will need to be clean and free of oil residue.

Replace the card and it should be quiet once again.

Cleaning and greasing (1)

GeckoFood (585211) | more than 2 years ago | (#40055715)

I had this problem with a heatsink fan a while back.

Though I ultimately had to replace said fan, I found a solution that worked at least for a while. I disassembled the fan and took a green kitchen scrubber pad to the shaft of the fan, to remove stuff that had essentially cooked onto it - dust particles, hair and whatever else got into the case. You'll be able to feel that stuff on there even if you cannot see it. Steel wool is not good as it can scratch the shaft which will make the problem worse. Once I had it smooth and clean, I took just a small amount of axle grease and applied it to the shaft with a toothpick. I was careful to make sure I wasn't heavy-handed with the stuff but I made sure there was enough to coat the shaft and that it still turned easily. Then I reassembled the fan and all was well for a while.

This did not fix the problem permanently. Eventually the fan got loud again and I redid the procedure several times until I replaced it outright, but it did solve the immediate issue.

Hope that helps.

Re:Cleaning and greasing (1)

Bill Dog (726542) | more than 2 years ago | (#40083713)

Thanks to you and windcask and the friendly AC for volunteering advice. I left my computer off for a couple of days, disgusted with it, and maybe it sensed by scorn and was ashamed, because the bugger is quiet again. Hopefully it just had to work out some dust that had gotten way in there. I've never had a fan go on anything. But if does act up again I have things to try.

Something else comes to mind, that I never really paid attention to before. When I first start up the machine, one or more fans spins up to kind of a high speed, then after a couple of seconds comes back down to relative quiet. Hopefully it wasn't some temperature misreading fan speed modulating thingamabob.

Chuck the fan. (1)

windcask (1795642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40062865)

Fans are cheap. Look at the part number on the fan and you'll probably be able to find one on Ebay for less than ten bucks. Pop the old one off, pop the new one on, refasten the screws, you're done.

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