Knowledge Base

How to Troubleshoot Fan Issues




Excess heat can cause the fans to run faster and continuously which can potentially damage internal components and reduce the performance of the PC. Your PC may contain one or more fans to keep the internal components cool. Under normal working conditions, it is normal for a PC to generate a fair amount of heat and become warm to touch depending on usage. Fans that continue to spin very fast and make abnormal or loud noise might indicate a problem.

Common causes for fans not working, abnormal or loud fan noise, overheating:

  • Fans or air vents that are obstructed
  • Dust accumulation on vents or fans
  • Not enough ventilation
  • Physical damage
  • Out-of-date BIOS and device drivers

Troubleshooting

Expand the sections below for more information and follow the troubleshooting steps.

Blocked air vents can cause serious performance issues by restricting air flow, this can cause the processor, memory (RAM) and other hardware to overheat which may lead to a potential hardware failure. Excessive heat can also cause a significant decrease in performance as most processors automatically reduce the speed of the processor to help compensate for heat-related problems. If you notice the system fan running constantly and making abnormal or loud noise, this might indicate the PC is not running as efficiently as possible, and/or clogged air vents.

It is important to keep dust from accumulating in your PC and ensure adequate ventilation to help reduce heat. Lint and dust accumulation prevents air from flowing around the cooling fins and causes the fan to work harder.

Your Dell PC may contain several fans to keep the internal components cool

  • Desktop PCs have more than one fan - processor (CPU), dedicated or discreet video card (GPU), power supply (PSU) and one or more chassis (case) fans.
  • Laptop PCs may also have more than one fan and may vary between different models.
Caution: Turn off your PC and disconnect the power cable or AC adapter before using compressed air to clean your PC. Follow the instructions on the side of the compressed air can, using compressed air incorrectly can damage your PC.
Caution: Do not try to blow the dust using your mouth. Moisture can cause irreparable damage to electronic and electrical components inside the PC.
Warning: Desktop power supply units (PSU) is also equipped with a fan. Do not attempt to open the power supply to clean the fans. Ensure to power off the PC and disconnect the power cables and use a compressed air can to clean any dust or debris.
Cleaning the air vents on your Dell PC
  1. Turn off the PC.
  2. Check the air vents on the PC for dust or debris.
    Air vents may be located in various places depending on the PC model. Refer to the User Manual of your Dell PC.
  3. Use a can of compressed air to remove dust or debris from the air vents, dust filters (if any) and cooling fan fins.
    Caution: It is recommended to use a can of compressed air only. Do not use vacuum cleaners or blowers. Vacuum cleaners and blowers cause static and may damage electronic and electrical components inside your PC.
  4. To prevent overheating problems, keep the PC in upright position and on a hard or sturdy surface, and provide enough clearance around the air vents.

How to clean computer fans - (2:01)

Best Way to Clean Your Notebook (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (2:57) English Only

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Proper ventilation is important for better air circulation both outside and inside the PC. Adequate ventilation can help the PC fans perform efficiently and also increase their life span. You can also consider placing the PC in a cooler room in your house or office which can help prevent the PC from overheating.

Guidelines to ensure adequate ventilation

  1. Desktop PC - Place the desktop PC on a flat and hard surface in a upright position. Provide sufficient clearance in the front and back of the PC (if your PC has air vents on the bottom or side, ensure to provide suffient clearance on all sides).
  2. Laptop PC - Place the laptop PC on a flat and hard surface where the bottom and side air vents are not obstructed.
Caution: Placing a laptop on a mattress or other soft surfaces will block the air vents, and leaving it there for an extended period of time can lead to overheating issues very quickly.

Running a hardware diagnostic test can help you identify hardware related problems and provide you troubleshooting steps to help resolve the issue. To determine if your Dell PC is experiencing a hardware problem, it is recommended that you first run a hardware diagnostic test on your PC. Dell offers both built-in and online diagnostics. Dell ePSA hardware diagnostic test will help check if the hardware devices are working correctly.

To learn more about Dell ePSA or PSA diagnostics, visit the Dell knowledge-base article Resolve Hardware Issues with Built-in and Online Diagnostics (ePSA or PSA Error Codes).

Running Dell Pre-boot System Assessment or enhanced Pre-boot System Assessment (Dell PSA or ePSA)
  1. Restart your Dell PC.
  2. When the Dell logo appears, press F12 key to enter One-time Boot Menu.
  3. Use the arrow keys to select Diagnostics and press Enter key on the keyboard.
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts and respond appropriately to complete the diagnostics.
    If the test fails, ensure to write down the error code and validation code.

ePSA Pre-boot System Assessment (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (2:28) English Only

Use the Dell Interactive Support Agent (English only) to get information about ePSA or PSA diagnostic error codes. Alternatively, you can visit the SupportAssist Pre-Boot System Performance Check page to get more information about ePSA or PSA diagnostic error codes.

If the Dell ePSA diagnostics and other troubleshooting steps has not identified the cause of USB issue, we recommend that you consider running a hardware checkup using Dell SupportAssist. Dell SupportAssist diagnostic test helps you troubleshoot a problem and get automated fixes.

Performing Hardware Scan - Dell SupportAssist - (2:11)

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Dell recommends updating the device drivers and BIOS as part of your scheduled update cycle. Device drivers and BIOS updates may contain feature enhancements or changes that will help keep your system software current and compatible with other system modules (hardware and software) as well as increased stability.

It is recommended that you installing the following device drivers to ensure optimal performance of fans in your PC.

  • BIOS
  • Chipset driver
  • Thermal chipset driver
  • Video card (GPU) driver

To learn how to download and install a device driver on your Dell PC, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article How do I update the device drivers on a Dell PC?

How to download device drivers? - (2:07)

To learn how to download and update the BIOS on your Dell PC, refer to the Dell knowledge-base How to Download or Update the BIOS on a Dell PC?

Update your System Setup (BIOS) - (2:06)

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Additional troubleshooting

Here are some additional steps that can help improve the performance of fans in your PC.

Windows updates can support your Windows operating system in many ways. Windows updates can solve specific problems, provide protection from malicious attacks, or even add new features to the operating system.

How to install Windows Updates in Microsoft Windows 10 and Windows 8 or 8.1?

  1. Right-click Start and click Settings.
  2. In the Settings panel, click Update & Security.
  3. In the left panel, select Windows Update.
  4. On the right panel, click Check for updates.
  5. Restart the PC after downloading and installing the updates.

How to install Windows Updates in Microsoft Windows 7?

  1. Click Start and open Control Panel.
  2. In Control Panel, click System & Security.
  3. In the right panel, select Windows Update.
  4. On the right panel, click Check for updates.
  5. Restart the PC after downloading and installing the updates.
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SupportAssist helps you optimize your PC by running a series of diagnostics to identify modifications to files and settings of your PC. Optimizing your PC improves your system speed, storage space availability, and stability by cleaning temporary files, tuning system performance and optimizing network.

Cleaning files

Cleaning your files helps you remove redundant files, temporary folders, and other unnecessary clutter from your PC

  1. Open SupportAssist and click the Optimize My System tile.
  2. On the Home tab, under Clean Files, click Run Now.
    After the optimization is complete, a 'Check' icon and the last optimized date are displayed on the tile.
    Note: During optimization, the name of the task that is performed is displayed below the menu bar. The percentage of optimization that is complete is also displayed on the tile.
    If you want to stop the optimization, click Cancel.
Note: If you cancel the optimization, the changes that were performed are not reversed.
Tuning your system performance

Tuning your PC performance helps you adjust the power settings, registry, and memory allocation to maximize the processing speed of your PC.

  1. Open SupportAssist and click the Optimize My System tile.
  2. On the Home tab, under Tune Performance, click Run Now.
    After the optimization is complete, a 'Check' icon and the last optimized date are displayed on the tile.
    Note: During optimization, the name of the task that is performed is displayed below the menu bar. The percentage of optimization that is complete is also displayed on the tile.
    If you want to stop the optimization, click Cancel.
Note: If you cancel the optimization, the changes that were performed are not reversed.
Optimizing network

Optimizing your network helps you ensure network connectivity and updates your PC settings to maintain an efficient and reliable network.

  1. Open SupportAssist and click the Optimize My System tile.
  2. On the Home tab, under Optimize Network, click Run Now.
    After the optimization is complete, a 'Check' icon and the last optimized date are displayed on the tile.
    Note: During optimization, the name of the task that is performed is displayed below the menu bar. The percentage of optimization that is complete is also displayed on the tile.
    If you want to stop the optimization, click Cancel.
Note: If you cancel the optimization, the changes that were performed are not reversed.

Optimize My System Using SupportAssist - (1:39)

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Many applications or software run in the system tray, or also called notification area. These applications usually launch during startup and stay running in the background but remain hidden. Preventing these applications from launching during startup will not only improve the performance of your PC but also help the fans run slower comparatively due to lesser load on the processor (CPU).

Warning: It is recommended that you do not disable the anti-virus or anti-malware program or application from loading during startup. Disabling the anti-virus or anti-malware program may make your PC vulnerable to malware infection.
Note: You must login as a user with administrator rights on your PC to disable startup programs.
How to disable startup programs in Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 8.1 or 8
  1. Close all open windows.
  2. Press CTRL + Shift + ESC key together on the keyboard.
  3. In the Task Manager window, click Startup tab.
  4. Select the program or application that you want to disable from loading during startup.
  5. Right-click and select Disable.
  6. Repeat Step 4 & 5 for all the programs or applications that you want to disable from loading during startup.
  7. Restart your PC.
How to disable startup programs in Microsoft Windows 7
  1. Close all open windows.
  2. Click Start button. In the search box, type msconfig, and in the list of results, right-click msconfig and select Run as administrator.
  3. In the System Configuration window, click Startup tab.
  4. Uncheck the programs or applications that you want to disable from loading during startup and click OK.
  5. In the confirmation window, check Don't show this message again and click Restart.

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Malware (virus, spyware, trojans, etc.,) can cause a PC fan to run constantly due to an overload on the processor (CPU), this in turn causes the fans to run constantly and fast. Spyware and other types of malware are a big cause of many PC problems. If you suspect your PC has been infected, there is a chance that malicious software may be running in the background and slowing down your PC.

It is recommended that you scan your PC with an anti-virus or anti-malware program. Windows 10 PC comes built-in with Windows Defender which provides basic protection against malware. Most Dell PCs also come with a basic anti-virus software pre-installed like McAfee but may require a subscription. There are many anti-virus or anti-malware programs (free to use and subscription based) that you may use like McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky, Trend Micro, etc., use the one installed on your PC to run a thorough or deep scan.

Note: Installing more than one anti-virus or anti-malware software on the PC does not give you better protection, instead it will only slow down your PC further. It is recommended to install one anti-virus or anti-malware software and update it regularly for active protection against malware.

To learn more, refer to the Dell knowledge base article Protect Your Computer or Remove Malware in Microsoft Windows.

What is Malware (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (2:03) English Only

5 Ways to Check for Viruses (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (2:33) English Only

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Informational videos

How to Fix Computer Fan Noise (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (4:24) English Only

How to Fix Overheating Laptop (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (2:02) English Only

How to Fix Overheating Desktop (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (2:12) English Only

How to Avoid Laptop Overheating (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (2:09) English Only


Article ID: SLN113205

Last Date Modified: 08/08/2018 10:14 AM


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