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Can a Fan Start a Fire?

Electrical fans are used by millions of people every day to keep cool. Normally when you have a fan going, a house fire is the last thing you’re thinking of. It may be good to start thinking about fire safety when it comes to fans, since it is, indeed, an electrical machine. 

A fan can start a fire if the motor, switch or appliance cord fails. When any one of these fails, a part of the fan can heat up and drip hot plastic onto combustible materials. A cord or switch can also short-circuit and the fan itself can catch fire. 

According to this product report, 20,000 fires were due to electrical fans within an eight-year gap. This article will discuss in detail how exactly a fan can start a fire. Furthermore, it will discuss ways you can prevent a fire from happening in the first place. 

Can a Fan start a fire

How Does an Electrical Fan Start a Fire?

A few different things can cause a fan to start a fire. The fan itself can light on fire if it short circuits or a mechanical failure can cause the plastic parts of the fan to heat up, dripping hot plastic onto combustible materials. 

Let’s look at the different parts of the fan that can start a fire. 

The Motor Can Overheat or Short-Circuit

Three different things can happen with the motor. First, the motor can stall if it is faulty. A stalled motor can then overheat and start to melt the plastic of the fan. Another way the motor can overheat is if the fan blades stop rotating. This can be due to an outside source like curtains or clothing getting caught in the blades. Lastly, the motor could have wiring problems and short-circuit and catch fire. 

The Cord/Switch Can Short-Circuit or Breakdown

If the cord or switch/switch wires are faulty to begin with, it can short-circuit and catch fire. Another danger is when the owner replaces the appliance cord themselves. A cord that is not installed properly can easily become a hazard. Lastly, the oscillating fan blades can rub on the cord and wear down the insulation, leaving the exposed wire. 

How Can I Prevent a Fan From Starting a Fire?

Reading all of the different ways a fan can start a fire may be overwhelming. Who would have thought that so many things could go wrong with a simple house appliance? Fortunately, though, there are multiple ways to decrease fire hazards in your home and prevent your fan from catching fire. 

Hire a Professional to Fix Your Fan

Many people don’t think twice about fixing their own appliances. Something like a fan can seem harmless to try and fix, but when it comes to electrical appliances it is very important to be careful when fiddling with wires. Many small things can easily become fire hazards, as you may have noticed from the information above. 

Whenever there is a problem with your fan, hire a professional to fix it. Many fire hazards can result from a cord that is not properly installed or a faulty switch. You can often find a professional very easily by searching up electricians near you in google.  

Place Your Fan in a Safe Location

On hot summer days, fans will go anywhere and everywhere to keep you cool, especially when you have no A/C. In order to stay safe, it is important to be smart about where you place your fan. 

Firstly, make sure to not place your fan on a carpeted floor. Carpets are very combustible and will help the fire spread quickly if one starts. If you do have your fan on the floor, make sure there are no clothes nearby. 

Can a fan start a fire

Clothes can also easily catch fire. Whenever a carpet or clothing starts on fire because of a fan, it is usually because of melted plastic dripping onto the materials. Place the fan somewhere that melted plastic will not be an issue, such as hard-wood flooring. 

Many people love to place their fan on a window sill, but if you do so, keep the fan away from any curtains or blinds. Free-flowing blinds can easily get caught in the fan blades. This could cause the blades to stall, which can then overheat the fan. The curtains caught in the blades would then be perfect kindling for a fire. 

Lastly, make sure the fan is placed in a spot that it won’t easily fall. If a fan falls, the hardware could get damaged and could cause a component to short-circuit. 

Replace Your Fan Every 8 Years

According to the product report I mentioned above, the average life of an electrical fan is 11 years. The reason I suggest replacing your fan every 8 years is because just under half of the fan incidents reported were with fans under 10 years old. This could be due to multiple reasons, but if you want to play it safe, make sure your fan never exceeds 8 years. 

With that being said, it is important to remember that every fan is different. Make sure to read the warranty of your specific product and the suggested life expectancy from the company themselves. 

Can a fan start a fire

Furthermore, always keep an eye on the state of your fan. This could include keeping an eye on the cords to make sure they aren’t frayed or making sure the motor is still running properly and not getting overheated. 

Turn Your Fan Off When You Leave the House

It is so easy to forget to turn off a fan when you have 500 other things on your mind. This is vital, though, if you want to decrease fire risks. Turn your fan off whenever you leave the house, especially if there is nobody else home. As previously discussed, many small things can go wrong with an electrical fan and cause substantial damage. If you can’t supervise it, turn it off. 

Use Extension Cords Properly

According to The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), 3300 house fires start because of not using extension cords properly. Many people use extension cords for their fans to get them in the optimal cooling positions. To avoid further fire hazard, use your extension cords properly. This short youtube video below explains how to do so under two minutes. 

Purchase a Good Quality Fan

Since a number of things can go wrong when it comes to the fan’s manufacturing, it is important to invest in a good quality fan. The Vornado 660 is an affordable fan and has over 1500 five star reviews on amazon. If you are looking for a specific type of fan, be sure to choose one with reliable reviews and a strong warranty. Purchasing a good fan is the first step in preventing fan-related fires. 

Vornado 660 Large Whole Room Air Circulator Fan with 4 Speeds and 90-Degree Tilt, 660-Large, Black


Fans can start fires in a number of ways. The motor, switch or cords can short-circuit and catch fire. The motor can also overheat which can lead to melted plastic dripping onto combustible materials like clothing or carpets. Replacing cords yourself can also lead to fire hazards. Fortunately, though, there are many ways to prevent a fan-related fire. 

Prevention of an electrical fan fire can include hiring a professional for repairs, placing your fan in a safe location, paying attention to the fan’s warranty, turning the fan off when unsupervised, practicing proper extension cord use and finally, purchasing a good quality fan. 

Make sure to follow some of these prevention tactics to keep your home fire-hazard free!


  • Alanna Greene

    Alanna is an avid traveler who lives in Michigan. In addition to writing for Temperature Master, he also sells crafts on Etsy and takes long walks through the forests near her home.

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