Effective fan maintenance for livestock facilities

Karen Johnson, UMN Extension

One spring time-early summer chore that often gets overlooked is fan maintenance. A little time and elbow grease can have big effects on overall animal health and energy-use expenses. For fan maintenance, the ultimate goal is to create an environment for the fans to run both effectively and energy efficiently. Here are some suggestions to help your fans run at their best.

  • Clean fans thoroughly. Dirty fan blades, louvers and guards can reduce air flow as much as 30-40%. Dust accumulation on top of fans creates insulation keeping the motor hot and decreasing overall efficiency. A stiff brush will remove dust and dirt from many fan parts. Compressed air finishes the hard to reach areas. Never use water to clean fans.
  • Assess if each fan is in proper working order. Evaluate parts for unexpected wear and replace if necessary. If the fan doesn’t move freely, the motor’s bearings may need to be replaced. Keep a close eye on electrical wiring, fan blades, louvers, belts and guards.
  • Lubricate fans as recommended by the manufacturer. Too much lubricate inside the motor has been shown to cause more damage than not using enough. Consider using a lubricant such as graphite.
    Clean building air inlets.
  • Evaluate and clean barn thermostats to make sure that they are turning the fans on and off at the correct temperatures.
  • Position fans at the correct angle to cool the animals. A 20-degree downward angle works well.



These are easy steps that can help maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of your fans. A well performing fan will help save you money in overall animal health and energy-use costs. For more fan and other livestock building energy efficiency tips, please visit https://farm-energy.extension.org/livestock-buildings-energy-efficiency-checklist-and-tips/.

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