Repair your noisy CPU and system fans


Posts: 303   +1
This is a fix that will last for a long, long time.

Buy some graphite powder and some oil at an auto or hardware store. They come in different packages. For oil, the best is the pen-type as they are easy to handle and only give a small amount at a time. Just about any oil in a pen format will work fine. The graphite powder comes in small plastic tubes. But make sure you get graphite powder, not graphite oil, its too thin for this job! So you need graphite powder in a small tube and oil in a round "pen" that can be squeezed out and placed just where you need it. Also, when the oil is used up in the "pen" you can open it and add your own oil.

First, clean the fan blades off real well. If you have a heatsink with the fan then clean the heatsink off as well. You can even use a bit of your oil and some q-tips for cleaning if needed. Then, take the small circle, it usually has a name on it, but its in the middle of the fan. Peel one edge up carefully and put a very small amount of oil in where you lifted the label up. Now add some graphite powder in the same place where you put the oil, add as much or a bit more of the graphite powder than the oil. Clean off excess oil and graphite and push the label back where it was. You may need a very small amount of duct tape to hold the label in position and to prevent leakage. This is important if the fan is going to "sit up" as opposed to lying flat.

Now put the fan back where you want it and when it starts spinning it may be noisy for a few seconds until the graphite\oil works its way in. Then it will stop and it will stay stopped for many years and you may very well not need to buy a new fan after all!

I experimented a lot with this and this is the very best way to quiet all those fans and have them work well. I have always been a big fan of those removable ide hard drive trays that you can buy. But the fans are the pits, they get noisy real fast. So I had to find a way to fix them as they are very expensive and hard to replace. Now I dont have to. Combo of oil and graphite is the very best, by far. One caution, graphite stains worse than
oil, so be careful! Im talking about staining your clothes and hands.

You can use this system with all cpu fans, video card fans, system fans, and even fans inside power supplies. But one word of caution, its easy to open a power supply and take out the fan, but do be careful as there are voltages there can can hurt you badly. If you dont know what you are doing then wear rubber gloves to get the fan out and to put the fan back in after the

Trust me, this will work. If the fan spins my method will work for years and I have even fixed fans that were stuck and wouldnt spin! This is better done with the fan on the table but in those cases where you cant or dont want
to take the fan out of the system, thats where the "pen" with the needle comes in again, but I still find a way to get some graphite in as well, graphite is what makes the oil last a long time! And graphite is also an oil, but you need both together for maximum effectiveness. Oil by itself will only last a few weeks or so and then evaporate, and the fan will get noisy again. Its the graphite powder that does the long term job. The oil really only helps to spread the graphite powder around really well so the graphite can do the job!
As for creating a situation where you have an "arcing" or a "short", it just wont happen. People can and will argue this point but I have never, in the approx ten years or more I have been repairing fans, caused a short. For one thing, most or all of the connections on fans have a transparent shield on them that prevents shorts. You can buy this stuff at electronics stores but you dont need to buy it to use when greasing and oiling fans as per my tutorial. Trust me, its not an issue, no matter any naysayers. If and when I ever cause a short I will honestly report it. Hasnt happened yet. Also, more than one person has given a better explanation of this than I can come up with. See Gabriel's explanation for one.
Hope you do as well as I have with this info!


Posts: 1,194   +208
Great tip about the graphite.. i normally use a blob of grease but it dont last too long..


Posts: 303   +1
Exactly, thats the main idea. Nothing, or at least not any common, inexpensive oil works as good as graphite powder. When i first started mentioning this at other forums i was surprised that not too many people knew about graphite powder. I actually found out about graphite at an auto forum. They use it in place of grease to reduce friction. And since it works in heavy duty applications, you can bet it certainly reduces friction in small itens like pc fans. I guarantee that if you try it you will never wanna be without graphite powder.

Another thing it does. If you cant get a part to fit in, instead of using vaseline or some other lubricant, use graphite powder. The only thing, as i said above, it does stain, so you have to be careful with it, wipe up any spills, etc. And, in some cases, you might want to use it with a touch of oil, just enuf to help spread the graphite powder around a bit better and faster.


Posts: 964   +8
sounds like a good idea...

does it matter whether the fan uses a ball bearing or a sleeve bearing?

also, is graphite conductive? and if so, why does this not effect the motor in the fan?

just curious :) good post though


Posts: 10,612   +464
Graphite will carry a slight current, because you could pencil in the bridges on some athlon processors to unlock them so they could be overclocked. But I don't think its going to do anything to a motor, anything like shorting it out that is.

It doesn't matter on sleeve or ball, its still going to be a lubricant.


Posts: 303   +1
It works on all fans, ball-bearing or otherwise, as it reduces friction and acts the same as any regular lubricant or oil only it does a superior job at the outset and outlasts plain oil by, well, years in some cases. Let me put it this way. As i stated i had been having problems with those small fans that are commonly found in the rear of ide trays. I would oil them and a few weeks to a month later the noisy fan would be right back. Thats when i tried graphite. First i tried graphite oil and that worked better than plain oil. Then i tried graphite powder and voila! The fan was good after a month, 2 months, and so on. By then i had experimented with putting a small amount of oil in and then adding some graphite powder.
I have some ide tray fans that have been going for years now with nary a squeel. Same thing goes for case fans, power supply fans, any fans.
Now the second part of your question i am not really in a position to answer, unless you count a guess as an answer. I dont think that graphite powder is a conductor, otherwise i think i would have run into trouble doing what i do.
And believe me when i tell you, i have a whole ton of computer equipment, not to mention the fact that i have half a dozen pcs at any given time. In addition i use about a half dozen ide trays, another half dozen or so usb and firewire boxes, some of which have those same fans. And I do all the repairs and upgrades for a lot of people i know and I have fixed many a squeaky fan and never have i had a return, lol. Also, on the conductive thing, i have never had a problem there either, so i dont think it is conductive material. But i could be wrong. Good point too!
The nice thing is that you can pick up a tube of graphite powder and try my idea out for yourself, lol. Heck, we all have oil around, and we all have duct tape, so all thats missing is the graphite powder which you can get at hardware or auto store for around $2.
I already know the results but i still would like to hear from those of you who try it out for yourselves. I wanna hear you say that you tried it out and the fan was noisy for about 5 seconds then got quieter and quieter. And then i can hear from you 6 months down the road that old once noisy fan is still working fine, lol. If you do it like i said it will work. Ive done so many of them.


Posts: 303   +1
Sorry, SNGX1275 , i didnt see your post.

Another thing, i think that once you reduce solid graphite to an oil type substitute that is suspended in other material, that there is likely other properties to it that make it less conductive. I can tell you i have done a ton of fans and never a problem, so i dont worry about that anymore.

I need to say thank you to Nork for the advice on using graphite powder and oil to fix a noisy fan. It had been making some noise for awhile now but, two days ago started getting louder. While playing a game yesterday it got so loud it scared me and I turned it off immediately, then made a trip to the store for a can of air. That helped some but not much. Fortunately enough so that I wasn't as worried about running it for awhile while I googled some help-and found this webpage. Given the hour of day, there wasn't much I could do about it last night.

However, I just tried it out, then played a game-which had been making the noise worse. My computer, however, was running SO quietly I actually had to take the side off to make sure the fan was actually working. It hasn't run this quiet since I bought it almost four years ago!!!

So thank you very much for postings like this (because people like me have no clue and would be paying a fortune to fix a simple problem!!!). And for those who asked, mine is a ball bearing fan and this fixed the problem immediately. No noise at all from the moment I turned it back on. Whew!!!


Posts: 303   +1
Hey, thanks for the compliment. You know, i have received so very much help by people in forums that i just like to give back. So i am glad you used this method and it helped you out. Even better, like you said, you learned how to do it yourself and save some money. And now you will have the know-how and the materials to fix any fan.
Way to go!


Posts: 303   +1
I forgot to point out that if you stay here this is a great place. Happy, friendly people who have a lot of info to give you. There are lots of forums like this but a lot of them have rude people and this place just doesnt seem to have rude people here. I think the members just dont put up with these type of people. But, again, there are lots of forums that do put up with these kind of people, so that makes this an even better place to go to.


Posts: 303   +1
Well, i did post a warning about this in my tutorial. Its the end of the 4th paragraph.
That said, heres what i would do.
Since this is an oil-based stain, you need an oil-based cleaner. So i would get out some baby oil or any other clear oil and rub that into the stain. Then take a clean cloth and try to "lift" the graphite out of the clothes.
Then i would add some laundry pre-wash or pre-soak and let it sit for a while and wash separately on heavy cycle with some regular detergent.
This may or may not work as i cant remember what i did last time i got graphite on my clothes. But next time, after you have done a fan repair, wash your hands first before you put your hands on your husband and then you wont get graphite on him!! (This is a joke, i think, i imagine it was your husland who was messing around with the graphite?).

The only other thing i can say is to keep trying but you do want to remember that you have to use an oil-based solution to lift or move the graphite out and then use prewash and detergent to get the clear oil-based solution out of the cloth.


Posts: 303   +1
Good luck on that and let us know how you made out.

Almost all stains are either oil-based or water-based. That means that the product that caused the stain was produced with or has either water in it or oil in it. The easiest explanation is with paints and stains and varnishes.
Most paints these days are water-based whereas most stains and varnishes are oil-based, although these days they have come up with water-based stains and varnishes.
A water-based stain will take water and some other detergent(or other water-based or water-activated product) to clean it.
An oil-based stain will mainly take an oil-based product to clean it but after that you need a detergent or pre-soak, and usually both, to get the rest of the oil out.
Thats why i suggested a clear oil-based product to get as much of the graphite out as possible. After you have done that, there is still oil in the clothing so that is when you use scrubbing, pre-soak, and detergent to get the rest of the oil out.

For the rest of us, take care when using graphite as it is messy. I dont use graphite oil because of that, its too runny. Graphite powder is thicker and does a better job anyway. We run into the same cleaning problem when we get thermal paste on our fingers and transfer it to our clothes and other items. Again, wash it off with clear oil. Dont use water. I keep lamp oil on hand for these jobs as its cheap to buy. But you can use baby oil, lamp oil, kerosene and even gasoline, lighter fluid, varsol, turpentine, etc to remove oil but i find that lamp oil is best for in-home use. But these items mentioned are all oil-based products.


Posts: 303   +1
After reading my above post i realize i am gonna catch he**. I mentioned thermal paste and then all the oil-based products to remove thermal paste.
Thats fine and they work, but so does 90% pure rubbing alcohol and dont use the other products to remove thermal paste from cpu's or other electronic parts, only use rubbing alcohol.
So, again, i was only talking about removing thermal paste from hands, furniture, plastic, vinyl, cloth, etc, not computer parts!


Posts: 303   +1
The only reason i found out was that i have used those ide removable trays. I put one drive with win xp pro on it and another removable tray with, say, win 98se, and even another with a backup of win xp pro on it and a backup of 98se. As it turns out these trays are great but most of them have these very small fans that are cheap but replacing them is very expensive. I started out with plain oil but i found that in a month the fans were squealing again. So i started toying around other lubricants. I tried lighter oils, heavier oils, i tried greases such as wheel bearing grease, etc, etc. Finally i bought a tube of graphite powder and it worked great. 2 months go by and still no noise from the fans in my removables. So i experimented with graphite oil (not as good) and settled on the powder. So use either the powder alone or the powder with just a smidge of any clear oil, but just a smidge, just enough to move the powder around so it gets everywhere its needed.
Result: no more fan noise!
I hope lots of people try it. You can pick up a tube of graphite powder for about $3 or so and theres enough to fix maybe 100 fans or more. Course it works on noisy and sticky doors in the house, anything that needs to slide like windows in wood and aluminum frames. I got an email from a person who used it to fix a sticky key on an old favorite keyboard. It works on just about anything, but, again, be careful as it does stain so its hard to get it out of clothes.


Posts: 303   +1
Thanks for the reply.

I hope others report back as well. It really does do a much much better job over oil and even other greases as well. You have to try an older, beat up fan and get that going well again before you really believe.
But i have a fan going in my system that was toast 4 yrs ago. I revived it and its been going strong ever since. So i know for myself how well it works!

Would be great to see others try it, like you did! Its more than worth the few bucks it cost!


Posts: 550   +4
Hey Nork, good to see you hanging around again! I may give this a try on my 6 year old system to see if it can quiet the fans. Great guide!


Posts: 303   +1
thanks nickslick74.
I got upset about them not starting up a buy\sell section as i know it always works out great and brings a lot more good people to the forum. I know, i am a member of a bunch of them. And one cant spread themselves out too thin and be in all of them. But i needed to come down off my high horse a bit and so here i am, lol.


Posts: 550   +4

Yeah, I've seen the buy/sell work on other boards too. But, for a purely technical forum, TechSpot does pretty well. I think that the mods keep things on the fairly straight and narrow and the people here (for the most part) are very helpful and non-judgemental. Some of the other computer forums I belong to allow way to many non-computer things to clog the boards. If I want to get into a political debate I go over to Techimo!

But variety is good, right?


Posts: 303   +1

I better drop the subject as i still think its a good idea, and totally computer related. What could be more computer related than buying and selling computer parts?
Darn, i better shut up.
Enough said. Its over and done with and its also not my forum either. Heck, im not even a mod, just a newcomer here.

Lets get back to graphite. I am doing better with that, lol.