Knowledge Base

Troubleshooting Fan Noise

Table of Contents:

  1. Common causes for abnormal or loud fan noise
  2. Tips for Proper Ventilation
    1. Cleaning the Vents
    2. Update the BIOS
    3. Hardware Diagnostics Check

This article provides information about Fan noise and proper usage environment.

Common causes for abnormal or loud fan noise

Fans can become loud or have abnormal sounds due to:

  • An out of date BIOS
  • Obstructions in the fan or vent area.
  • Physical Damage
  • Dust accumulation in the fan or vent area.
  • Usage while not on a flat surface or proper ventilation clearance
  • Using near a heat source or in a hot environment
Note: Fan noise and speed can increase or decrease due to the temperature of the system.

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Tips for Proper Ventilation

Proper ventilation can be one of the most important things for your system. Improper ventilation can increase fan noise and increase heat to the internal components to a degree that potentially can cause damage. It is generally recommended to use the system in a room temperature of 0°C to 35°C (32°F to 95°F) with a Humidity level no greater than 90%. However for specific environmental usage temperatures for your system refer to your User's Guide or Owner's Manual.

Below are Laptop and Desktop specific ventilation tips:


  • Using a Laptop on a hard, flat, non-cloth surface will increase airflow and reduce heat from underneath and inside the system.

    Note: Using the Laptop on blanket, pillow, or other type of cloth will cover up the fan cause the computer to overheat and can cause permanent damage.

  • Use compressed air to clean the vents on a regular basis. For instructions on how to clean out the vents, Click here for Cleaning the Vents Step.


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Cleaning the Vents

  1. Check the vents on the computer to see if they are covered with dust and not allowing heat and air to pass through (Figure 1).

    Vent on the bottom of a Laptop with dust in the air intake grille
    Figure 1: Vent on the bottom of the Laptop with dust.

  2. Turn off the System.
  3. Remove all power sources: Unplug the AC Adapter and Remove the Battery, or Unplug the Desktop Power Cord.
  4. Use a compressed air can to blow the dust out of the vents. Be sure to hold the can at an upright (near 90 degree angle) and hold it 15-20 centimeters (6-8 inches) away from the target.

    Note: Do not blow the dust out of a Laptop. The saliva from your mouth can cause permanent damage. When using a can of compressed air, use the can according to the directions on the side of the can.

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Update the BIOS

An out of date BIOS can cause loud fan noises by having an outdated temperature table for the system. Instructions to update BIOS in your computer.

Visit Dell Drivers and Downloads website and input your Service Tag to get updates specific to your computer.

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Diagnostics Check

Additionally, you may perform Full System Diagnostics or Dell Quicktest on your computer.

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Article ID: SLN113205

Last Date Modified: 11/25/2014 11:16 AM

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