Q: The vent fan above my stove no longer runs. The light on the vent hood works fine, just the fan is not operating. How can I fix this? – Lee N., Nashua, N.H.
A: Double-check the fuse at the circuit box. Although the vent hood light is working, suggesting that a tripped fuse isn’t the problem, this is the easiest and fastest thing to check. If it has tripped, reset the switch.
If that isn’t the issue, it’s time to check the unit itself. Turn off power to the vent fan at the circuit box. Remove the fan’s protective grill and filter. Using a flashlight, peer up past the fan blades to see if you can locate a plug that runs from the fan motor to a receptacle inside the fan unit. If you can’t see it, carefully remove the fan bracket by loosening the mounting screws on either side of the housing. Ease the fan and motor out of the housing just a few inches to see how it’s connected.
If the fan has a plug from the motor to the receptacle, make sure it is plugged in completely. Inspect the plug cord for fraying or other damage and take a look at the receptacle as well.
Now is a good time to get a look at the fan itself and make sure the blades are undamaged and attached securely.
If you can’t see anything wrong, plug the unit in securely, remount the fan and motor, and test the fan by turning the circuit back on and then switching the fan on.
If the motor is directly wired to the house wiring, proceed with caution. You will need to use a circuit tester to make sure no power is reaching the unit. Without touching any bare wires, place one probe from your circuit tester into one of the wire connectors. Place the other probe against the grounding screw on the fan unit’s metal housing. If the circuit tester glows, power is still reaching the unit – don’t do anything until you’ve switched off the correct circuit at the panel. Repeat the test with all the wire connectors.
Once you’ve ensured power is not reaching the fan unit, make sure the wiring is not frayed or otherwise damaged. If it is, bring in an electrician to repair the wires and check the entire circuit for unseen problems.
If everything looks OK and undamaged, you’ll likely need to replace the fan. Kitchen fans can run around $100 by themselves, and you might have to hunt a bit for replacements for older models.
Unscrew the old fan’s mounting bracket and ease the unit out of its housing. Unplug it from the receptacle, if it’s a plug-type unit, or disconnect it from the house wiring (after ensuring no power is reaching the unit). With a helper holding the new unit steady, attach the new unit to the house wiring in the same way as the old – or plug it into the receptacle if it has a plug – and mount in place with the existing brackets.
HOME TIP: Clean the kitchen fan’s filter every month by removing it, soaking it in warm soapy water, and cleaning with a soft cloth. Reinstall when it’s completely dry.
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