Why does my pedestal fan not move air?
July 16, 2017 12:02 PM   Subscribe

I just bought and assembled a pedestal fan. It seems to run fine: the blade spins fast and it makes a healthy noise. There's only one problem: it doesn't seem to move any air. If I hold a sheet of paper flat on my hands in front of it, the paper is unmoved, even on the High setting; I feel no cooling holding my face an inch from it. However, if I point the fan away from me, I get a slight cooling effect. What is wrong?

You might ask, is the fan blade mounted back-to-font? It's obviously on right: it will only attach one one way.
posted by ed\26h to Home & Garden (13 answers total)
is there a switch that changes which direction the blades rotate?
posted by taskmaster at 12:12 PM on July 16

If you put the same paper on the other side of the fan does it move at all? If it doesn't, then maybe the fan just isn't spinning very fast. Maybe a problem with the motor. If it does and is pushed away from the fan then something is backwards, either the blades (which you have eliminated) or maybe the motor. If it is sucked toward the fan, then I have no idea.
posted by runcibleshaw at 12:49 PM on July 16

Doesn't seem to be. There's a Mode button to select some annoying Start-then-Stop cycle, but it doesn't change the direction. The blade itself mounts with a tumbscrew which is remarkable in that that turns anti-clockwise to tighten. I assume this is so the natural spinning doesn't loosen it. The blade turns anti-clockwise.
posted by ed\26h at 12:51 PM on July 16


Yes, held at the rear in the same manner the paper is blown away.
posted by ed\26h at 12:53 PM on July 16

Could you check this in a couple different outlets in the house? Maybe this one is wired backwards.
posted by notsnot at 1:07 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

What brand is it? All fans are not created equal design-wise.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 2:24 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

To tell if the fan is turning in the correct direction:

Looking at the front of the fan (where air "should" be blowing in your face).
With fan off, a blade is tilted. The rear edge of the blade should lead the front edge if it is going in the correct direction. The rear edge cuts the air and pushes it toward you.

I don't believe that an outlet wired backward should cause the fan to run backward. We are talking about AC voltage here.

You can try getting the fan spinning in the other direction with a pencil or similar, and then turning it on. If it keeps going in the direction you started it in, it might indicate a bad start capacitor or start winding. However, a cheap motor is unlikely to have a start capacitor.
posted by H21 at 2:35 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]

Can you post a detailed picture, taken from an angle? Is it possible that each blade rotates, and may need to be rotated the rest of the way into place? Or - could have been manufactured incorrectly?
posted by reeddavid at 2:36 PM on July 16

Oh, and: what's behind the fan? Any chance the airflow is blocked from the back, maybe up against a wall or piece of furniture? Or packing material/film still on the back?
posted by reeddavid at 2:37 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]

I'm dealing with this at work at the moment, oddly.

The screw that rotates anti-clockwise to tighten has what is known as a left hand thread. They are common in applications like this.

Back to front wiring will not cause the fan to rotate backwards.

There are two things I would do to start with:
*First, make sure that screw is done up tightly enough to grip the rotor onto the shaft. I have seen fans that slip here, causing the rotor to run much slower than the motor. It can be surprisingly hard to spot if it does this without making much noise.
*Secondly move it into the middle of the room and see what happens. Some fan designs are very sensitive to what is behind them and do not like drawing air from their sides.
posted by deadwax at 4:32 PM on July 16

Having seen this multiple times before, and as someone who used to repair vintage fans and sell them...

I'm betting this fan just kinda... sucks ass. I'd return it, and go to a store where you can actually try out the fans at a big display(bed bath and beyond etc) before selecting another one. If that's not an option, grumble a bit and spend the extra money to buy something like a vornado that will Not Suckā„¢ for sure.

Note that this is a function of design, not price. I got a super cheap tower fan to use at work, and air rockets out of it. I've seen $50-100 fancy looking fans that barely moved any air. The best cheap ones generally are either of the slim tower/squirrel cage blower style, or have a "ducted" design(as in instead of just having a cage, the sides are solid plastic with a grill in the front and the back). Vornado follows one of these two rules always(in addition to having clever blades) which is why it's become my "just buy a Mac" sort of recommendation. But Holmes and other, cheaper brands have models most stores carry that follow these easy rules of Not Sucking.

I really bet this fan just sucks, though. I've seen some laughably pathetic ones.
posted by emptythought at 5:03 PM on July 16 [6 favorites]

Yes, held at the rear in the same manner the paper is blown away.

You might ask, is the fan blade mounted back-to-font? It's obviously on right: it will only attach one one way.

It sounds like the fan blade is blowing the wrong way. Could be that they make two models and you got one with the wrong fan blade or motor? Could there be a switch on the bottom or some sort of double click on the power button for reversing the direction? If you can't get it blowing the right way, I'd return it.
posted by cnc at 6:23 PM on July 16

Have you tried reading the manual? If there is done truck for reversing it, that might help you figure it out (or figure if it's a feature for people who want air circulation but not the turbulence of it blowing at them at high velocity). If you don't have the manual, Google whatever info you have about the fan or see if there's a manufacturer website you can check.

Also, Google the model number or manufacturer name and 'blows out the back" or "reverse".
posted by Lady Li at 7:12 AM on July 19

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