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Repair your noisy CPU and system fans

By nork · 98 replies
Jun 25, 2006
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  1. nazartp

    nazartp TS Booster Posts: 178   +13

    Nice topic - just stumbled upon it. Never tried it, but will definitely do. Got a noisy candidate in my son's computer ;)

    As an ex telecom engineer I must say that graphite does conduct electricity but has a relatively high resistance. In fact old resistors were made by applying a thin layer of graphite on top of a ceramic tube. You will, probably, not short the fan, but I'd be careful to prevent leaks on any bare contacts on the fan/mobo/etc.

    On a different note, do you notice any reduction in the speed of the fans? Graphite oil was widely used in electrical and electronic applications, but it has relatively high viscosity. Also, you say that you tried different oils, but they never lasted long enough. I gotta try the oil for sewing machines. It is specifically developed for lubricating the bearings with minimum resistance.

    In any case, thanks for the advice!
  2. nork

    nork TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 303

    No, i havent noticed any fan go slower, but i have certainly noticed them going faster.
    Thing is, i only use oil to help spread the graphite around and the oil isnt really needed at all, plus the fact that i only use a tiny drop of oil out of a pen-barrel type applicator, it has a needle on the end, so you can imagine how little oil is used.
    I know one thing, the oil always dissipates in time anyway and you are left with the graphite powder only, which, long before that, has repaired the fan and its humming along nicely. thats why i said it hardly matters which oil you use as its only a drop to start with. And, again, it dissipates due to heat. I know because the first number of fans i tried to repair worked fine for a while but they all eventually started acting up again(bad little fans) and my repairs only started being permanent when i switched over to graphite powder, just to try it out. Turns out, for many reasons, it was the right choice.
    I am only surprised this wasnt real common knowledge and still isnt all that common because i dont read labels, dont know that much about this stuff, only
    wandered into it by trial and error, lol. I had found it was great on hinges, doors, and stuff like that. So i tried it on a couple fans and found it worked great. After that is when i found out why it worked so well! Heat doesnt dissipate graphite powder like it does with oil and graphite powder is very very slippery, making it a great lubricant.
  3. siliconfusion

    siliconfusion TS Rookie

    Thanks for sharing the info.....
  4. JimG

    JimG TS Rookie

    it worked for me too. My CPU was screeching and actually locked up my laptop. The replacement fan assebly would be about $130 from HP. I googled and found your post.
    I looked around the house and found that I had the oil with a needle tip for small oil delivery but no graphite so I used a razor to scrape some graphite off of a pencil. My fan is the type that can eparate the rotor from the stator. I spread some graphite all along the inside of the fan body stator, and then added a tiny drop of oil to the inside. I added more graphite to the drop until it was paste. I put some on the shaft in the same manner. The graphite filings were very fine and I didn't use much at all. I figured i could always add more that way. It works perfectly. Thanks!!! Jim
  5. nork

    nork TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 303

    really smart thinking on your part! Its the same graphite i would imagine. And it worked so thats what counts!

    If you do run into trouble in the future with the same fan i do suggest you do get the "store-bought" graphite as the graphite would be ground much finer than we can do. I say this because the problem here is that most fans run hot enuf to dissipate any oil or grease that is applied to the moving parts in a fan. The only reason my graphite solution works is because the graphite doesnt dissipate with heat and continues doing the job even after the oil and\or grease has stopped doing the job. Put another way, oil and grease will dissapear, leaving only the graphite to do the job. so the graphite better be up to the job and the store-bought type is ground up fine enuf to do the job.
    I'm certainly not knocking your solution. Its actually quite ingenious. I hope you post back to tell us if this ingenious remedy of yours works over time. I hope it does! even if it fails the test of time its still a great method to get you up and running while you do the permanent fix!

    I have this thread running in a few forums so i will try to post this info on them as well.
    Thanks again and be sure to let us know how it works down the road!
  6. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,412   +629

    The graphite in most common pencils contains clay which, no matter how finely ground, would not be ideal as a lubricant. The clay would tend to chew up moving parts over time.
  7. nork

    nork TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 303

    Im not surprised to hear about the clay thing. For what its worth i recommend going with the store-bought powdered graphite because its so fine and its likely got a lot less contaminents in it. It just seems to be made for the job of fixing computer fans of all types. And its so cheap to buy!
    However, i dont want to step on JimG's toes. He did what he did and reported his findings. Im not an expert so i cant really say one way or another. But i think the test of time will be the real test here. If the fan in question is used every day and is still humming away in 3 months that would be an indication that its ok, if not, well ....
    Still, it does tell us the power of graphite.
    Since i wrote this article i have serviced a lot of fans. I had one, a fan in a good power supply.
    This fan was in real rough shape and i told the fellow this is simply a test as i felt the fan was too far gone. Well the fellow reported back to me a month later that the fan was running just fine. I suspect its still working fine and it's been a long time now.
    I've had a few other fans that were real bad, one on a video card. Put another way i havent had one person get back to me that the fan i repaired had gone bad again. Its bound to happen sooner or later, though. This isnt magic, its just that fine powdered graphite is a tremendous lubricant.
  8. JimG

    JimG TS Rookie

    Hello Nork & Mailpup.
    Well, last night I started hearing the fan again but not as bad as initially. I inspected the fan and saw that the graphite was granulated and had dried out. I also looked up and found clay is the binder for the pencils which s used granulate. The #2 pencil I used would have more clay than a 9B (thank you Wikipedia) but I didn't have one I don't know don't know how much clay is in any pencil types. I'll go out and buy proper graphite powder today.

    I put another tiny drop of oil in the stator and mixed it with the granules to get me going again. The computer is typically on for 16 hrs/day and lasted 43 days until I heard the noise last night. 688 hrs of mostly 130F based on Speedfan. I haven't come back to see if I had a reply until now. Thank you to you both. JimG
  9. nork

    nork TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 303

    Its great to hear your report on the results.
    Of course, the noise is back because of the oil drying up and likely the clay clogging things up as well. When you get powdered graphite and put that in with a drop of oil then your problem should be resolved for good, if not for many years, at which point you could simply add more graphite. But, again, the graphite doesnt dry up like oil does so it should last for years, done properly only once.
    Make sure you get that clay out of there before you put the graphite in.
  10. mymateo

    mymateo TS Rookie

    Hi, I wanted to post my results.

    Well, it took a little bit of searching to find the powdered graphite. My mistake? I was looking in Wal-Mart. I spent probably half an hour looking, and if they have it I couldn't find it. Went to Rona, was in and out of the store in about 3 minutes.

    Went home, took the fan off my video card (which was so noisy it could wake the dead). Put on some 3-in-1 multipurpose oil and puffed some graphite on, wiped off the excess, put it back, and the fan is so quiet now!

    All I can say is thankyouthankyouthankyou!
  11. nork

    nork TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 303

    I hope more and more people see this and save themselves a lot of money. Especially with video cards. So often i read that the fan on their video card died and they couldnt find a replacement or the replacement cost so much. Quite often the video card fan can be repaired like you did yours. I know that i have repaired quite a few video card fans and some of these video cards cost $200, $300, and more, yet they have fans that wear out pretty fast.
    Now there is a fix. I dont like to say that all fans can be repaired but i can say that i have repaired dozens of fans and i havent come across one that i couldnt repair, but i am sure there are some out there, especially the situation where the fan has been running and noisy for a long time in that condition. There is always the chance that the fan is just too far gone already. Sooner or later that will happen as my method is meant to work when a fan just recently becomes noisy, not when its simply too far gone.
    Its nice to hear from people who try this and get their video card and other fans back running as they should!

    I should point out, and i think i did in my original post, but if not, you can get powdered graphite at any auto parts store, most hardware stores and most big box stores. I dont suggest getting the liquid graphite as i find it too watery, get the powdered graphite because it has the highest concentration of graphite and its the graphite that works long term, not the oil, oil only works on a short term basis and eventually dissipates with heat.
    Be careful not to overpay, the places i have mentioned are the places that sell it for just a couple dollars. Sooner or later the computer stores might start selling it but they might up the price, so go to the auto stores and get it cheap.

    This is another matter altogether, but i have heard that you can go to auto stores and buy thermal grease real cheap as well. I havent tried that so i cant say anything about it one way or the other, just that i have heard people say that it works just fine on cpu's and such.
  12. JimG

    JimG TS Rookie

    Hi Nork,

    another update. Back on 8/31, I updated that I had to clean the clay out the fan and i was buying dry graphite. I cleaned and applied oil/graphite the next day. It seemed fine until 9/11 when I heard the fan again so I cleaned it better with a cotton swab and a few drops of oil. I did it twice. When clean I applied the dry graphite to three small drops of oil from a needle oil applicator and mixed it with a paper clip. It is definitely quieter than before and cooler too.
  13. nork

    nork TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 303

    Great! I hope it works out for you and i hope that the clay is out of the fan workings.

    I just put a very very small amount of oil in between the blades or wherever i feel the best spot is, sometimes its right near the coil. The point is that you want some oil and graphite to get in between the plastic and metal and sink down deep. I dont know the terminology of the parts, lol. Then i just "puff" in the graphite. The word "puff" is used because when you squeeze on the graphite powder it indeed comes out in a puff. Its a bit hard to control, thats why i mentioned in my original post to be careful, especially if the graphite gets on your clothes. To get graphite off anything but clothes use varsol or turpentine. To get graphite off clothes use the commercial products that you apply to spots on your clothes, that is your best chance, that i know of, to get the stain out.
  14. ijasnijas

    ijasnijas TS Rookie

    Great Tut... NIce ..
  15. JimG

    JimG TS Rookie

    Hey Nork,
    I think using pencil "lead" was a really bad idea. The fan made noise again on 13-Dec-2009 so I cleaned the fan assembly, rotor and stator and reapplied oil/graphite again. This fix lasted 4 months. Maybe it will last longer after this time since each time I clean, I remove more clay. My fan vents were clogged up after 4months too. I'm thrilled to have a process to clean & revive my cooling system without spending money.
  16. nork

    nork TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 303

    ya, the pencil lead is totally different from the graphite powder with the powder being much more refined so that its very slippery.
    One nice thing is that i have used this method on a few fans on a few $300 and $400 video cards that were out of warranty. Saves a ton of money and keeps the cards out of the landfills. Whenever i do things i try and save, repair, re-use, whatever method i can employ to keep things out of the landfills. Furniture is SO easy to stain or paint, especially stain, and can so easily be made to look nice again. Its just that some people just dont realize they can do it, and cheaply too.
    But thats another thread, lol.
    On with the graphite powder!!
    You know, i am getting emails from around the world on this graphite trick. Its really amazing how many people have read this and how many have taken the time to let me know they tried it, and, of course, it worked for them.
  17. LinkedKube

    LinkedKube TechSpot Project Baby Posts: 3,380   +53

    I need to change out my danger den hs for my 295gtx in the next few days. Before I measured the fan db @ 39db while at 100%. Before I change out my water loop ill try graphite with the stock fan and see what happens.
  18. safefunking

    safefunking TS Rookie

    I've been repairing all types of fans for years, so after reading all of the success stories, I was eager to try this out for myself. I went and bought some Victor Graphite Lubricant; for more information, here's a link to it on Amazon:
    although I got mine locally at an auto parts store.

    I put a drop of 30 weight mineral oil and an equal amount of this graphite powder into two different ball bearing type CPU fans and they spin ok, but they now make a scratchy sort of sound, as though I had added sand to the oil. I've let them run for at least 1/2 hour and it hasn't improved. Is this the wrong type of graphite? Any other recommendations?

  19. abe10tiger

    abe10tiger TechSpot Paladin Posts: 612   +16

    Yes! Thanks for then info! The fan of my auntie's pc is like super noisy. Thanks! :D
  20. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,412   +629

    I'm not sure about exactly what kind of graphite should be used but I would use a much lighter weight of oil. 30W engine oil is too thick, IMHO. I think you should use a light machine oil or 3-in-one oil or similar.
  21. DanielWilson

    DanielWilson TS Rookie

    Can you repair a laptop fan w/o removing it?

    The CPU fan in my HP HDX18 starting chattering yesterday. According to the service manual, replacement requires removal of practically everything from the case, including the system board.

    Do you have any suggestions for lubricating or otherwise helping it *without* removing it from the case?

  22. Tjpab

    Tjpab TS Rookie

    Worked great! Been looking for a solution for a long while! Thanks
  23. nork

    nork TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 303

    Tjpab - glad it worked. It will work with about 99% of fans. I have repaired some fans that almost wouldnt even turn. I have had some video cards mailed to me, repaired them and sent them back, one all the way to Great Britain!

    DanielWilson - Sorry, im not here a lot and i didnt see your post. Some fans can be repaired without them leaving the case. The trick is getting at the round sticker, lifting it up and getting a wee bit of oil and a fair amount of powdered graphite in that hole you see after lifting the sticker. If you can do that while the fan is in the machine then all the better. If not you will have to take it out to repair it. In the case of a notebook theses fans are not that hard to get to but in most cases it does involve talking off the back cover of the notebook.

    Best to pm me with any problems regarding fans so i can answer right away and then you can post the results here so others will see.

    If a person goes to an automotive story and gets graphite powder and uses a small amount of any light oil and does it as per my instructions then its almost a guarantee your fan will be quiet once again.
    I have to say that i have likely repaired close to 50 fans myself by now and i can only guess how many people have read this and done their own repairs. No matter what anyone says i know it works 99% of the time.
  24. mexicano707

    mexicano707 TS Rookie


    Any specific kind of oil? Would air tool oil work or is it too thin?
  25. mailpup

    mailpup TS Special Forces Posts: 7,412   +629

    Air tool oil would probably work since I think its primary function is a carrier for the graphite. Automatic transmission oil probably would also work.

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