Will a fan still work if it gets wet?

Fans are a popular way to keep cool on hot summer days or during heat waves. However, there is a common myth that if a fan gets wet, it could electrocute someone or cause a fire hazard. Knowing the facts about whether wet fans are actually dangerous is important for safely using fans to stay cool when temperatures rise.

This article will examine how fans work, the electrical components inside, and whether water exposure poses any risks. We’ll discuss safety precautions when using wet fans, how to test them, and tips for repair, maintenance, and preventing water exposure in the first place. By the end, you’ll understand if a fan can still work safely after getting wet.

How Fans Work

Fans work by using rotating blades to circulate air. The blades are attached to a motor that spins them at high speeds. As the blades spin, they push air in front of the fan and draw air in behind the fan. This creates airflow and circulation in an enclosed space (https://vividairmovement.com/how-your-ceiling-fan-works-2/).

The fan blades are angled so that as they spin, the angle causes the blades to push air forward. This generates airflow in one direction (https://www.quora.com/How-does-a-fan-work-exactly-how-does-motion-cause-particles-to-behave-so-they-suck-or-push-air). The motor spins the angled fan blades rapidly, which slices through the air and forces it forward in a consistent stream (https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/135016/what-is-going-on-in-front-of-and-behind-a-fan). This motion circulates air around a room and creates a cooling breeze.

Electrical Components

Fans contain several key electrical components that allow them to operate. Exposure to water can impact the functionality of these critical parts.

The motor is one of the most important electrical components in a fan. It contains windings of copper wire that create a magnetic field to spin the blades when energized with electricity. If water seeps into the motor housing, it can cause short circuits, corrosion, and motor failure (source).

Wiring that connects the various electrical components is also vulnerable. Insulation around wires helps prevent electricity from taking unwanted paths, but moisture can degrade this insulation and expose conductors. This could lead to short circuits, fires, or shock hazards (source).

Switches control the power flow to the fan. Water exposure can cause contacts to corrode and prevent smooth switching. Any splashing during operation could also create dangerous shorts (source).

Other components like capacitors, circuit boards, and fuses are also susceptible to water damage. Overall, moisture creates the risk of electrical malfunctions, sparking, and shocks.

Insulation and Waterproofing

Fans contain sensitive electrical components that can be damaged by water exposure. However, many fans have some built-in insulation and waterproofing measures:

The motor windings are coated in an enamel-based insulating varnish that helps repel moisture (source). This provides a degree of water resistance but does not make the motor fully waterproof.

Fan housings are often made of plastic or coated metals that do not conduct electricity. This helps prevent shorts if small amounts of water get inside (source).

Sealed ball bearings are sometimes used to prevent lubricant leaks and moisture ingress. But more basic sleeve or bushings bearings offer less protection (source).

While these measures improve moisture resistance, standard fans still have exposed components and joints that make them vulnerable to water damage.

Risks of Water Exposure

Water exposure poses several risks that can damage fans and other electrical devices. The main risks include:

Short circuits – Water can cause short circuits in electrical components when it bridges connections that are not meant to touch, allowing electricity to flow where it should not. Even small amounts of water can lead to shorts.

Corrosion – Water, especially salt water, can initiate corrosion on metal contacts and connections. This can prevent electricity from flowing properly. Corrosion damage continues even after water has evaporated.

Mechanical damage – Water can make device components like switches, bearings, and motors gritty or stiff. This reduces function and can lead to premature failure.

Permanent damage – Shorts and corrosion can permanently damage electronic components and circuit boards. This type of damage usually cannot be repaired.

Safety hazards – Wet devices pose an electric shock hazard, especially if still plugged into power.

According to Reddit users, even moisture in the air can damage electronics over time by causing corrosion [1]. Letting a wet device dry does not prevent ongoing damage from shorts and corrosion that began immediately on contact with water.

Safety Precautions

When using fans around water, it’s important to take safety precautions to prevent electrical hazards. Here are some tips:

  • Make sure fans plugged into outlets near water sources, like bathrooms or kitchens, are equipped with a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCIs shut off power if electricity leaks into water, reducing the risk of shock.
  • Don’t place portable fans near sinks, tubs, pools or other sources of water where they could get splashed. Allow at least 3 feet of clearance.
  • Outdoor ceiling fans should be installed in covered, dry locations. Choose damp-rated outdoor fans if installing in a semi-covered area like a patio.
  • If a fan does get wet, immediately unplug it and allow it to fully dry for at least 24 hours before using again. Pointing a fan towards the sun or using a hair dryer can help speed up drying.
  • Never use fans whilst in bathtubs or showers, as this poses electrocution risks if water contacts the fan.
  • Inspect electric fans regularly for damage to the cord insulation that could lead to electric shocks in wet conditions. Replace damaged cords.
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in damp locations like bathrooms if using electric fans. Test GFCIs monthly to ensure proper functioning.

Taking basic precautions allows you to safely operate fans in moist environments. Proper placement, circuit protection, and inspection/drying of wet units reduces electrical dangers.

Testing Wet Fans

When a fan gets wet, it’s important to thoroughly test it before putting it back into regular use. According to the NEMA guide on evaluating water-damaged electrical equipment, there are several steps you should take:

First, do a visual inspection looking for signs of damage like frayed wires, corrosion, melted components, etc. Check that the fan blades spin freely without wobbling. Make sure there is no debris stuck inside the fan housing.

Next, use a multimeter to check for electrical shorts, ground faults, and damaged insulation. Refer to the manufacturer’s wiring diagram to identify test points. Measure resistance between wires and from each wire to ground. Compare your readings to the expected values.

Then, conduct a dielectric withstand test by applying a high voltage between windings to stress the insulation. Start at a lower voltage and gradually increase to the equipment’s specified level. Poor insulation will fail at a lower voltage.

Finally, perform a functional test by connecting the fan to power and observing its operation. Start on a lower speed setting and gradually increase. Listen for abnormal humming or grinding noises. Check that airflow and rotation speed match expectations.

It’s recommended you repeat these tests over time, even if the initial results are normal. Problems like corrosion may take a while to manifest. Refer to guidelines on re-testing timeframes for water-damaged equipment.

Repair and Maintenance

If your fan does get exposed to moisture, it’s important to take steps to repair any damage and prevent issues in the future. Here are some best practices for maintaining and repairing wet fans:

– Disconnect the power before inspecting a wet fan. Make sure all electrical components are completely dry before restoring power to avoid short circuits or shocks. Wipe down the motor housing and fan blades with a dry cloth.

– Inspect the motor windings and electrical connections for corrosion. If severe, you may need to replace the motor or internal components. Light surface rust can be gently cleaned off with emery cloth.

– Lubricate the motor bearings and other moving parts with electric motor oil to prevent damage from rust (Source: https://www.safetyfrenzy.com/water-in-your-fan/).

– Check that the fan blades spin properly and are in balance. Unbalanced blades can lead to wobble, noise and mechanical issues over time.

– Inspect mounts, brackets and hardware for rust and tightness. Replace any corroded bolts or fasteners.

– Consider applying a thin layer of corrosion inhibiting lubricant to protect electrical contacts and prevent future water damage.

Regular maintenance like dusting and cleaning your fan can also help prevent water and moisture accumulation (Source: https://www.hwahomewarranty.com/learning-center/homeowners/home-maintenance/ceiling-and-exhaust-fan-maintenance). With proper care, wet fans can often be repaired and restored to like-new condition.

Preventing Water Exposure

There are several tips to help prevent ceiling fans from getting wet in the first place:

Installing fans in a covered area like a patio or porch can shield them from direct rain and moisture. Fans meant for indoor use should not be placed in areas exposed to the elements.

Using damp-rated or wet-rated ceiling fans designed for humidity and moisture will be more resistant than standard models.

Regular cleaning and maintenance can prevent dust and dirt buildup that holds moisture. Wipe blades and housing periodically.

Sealing openings like screws and seams with caulk can protect internal components from moisture intrusion.

Installing a ceiling fan cover when not in use for extended periods helps shield it from rain and dampness.

Positioning fans away from sprinklers, pools, or sources of mist/steam can reduce exposure to moisture.

Checking for leaks above the fan location from the roof, plumbing, etc. and fixing them prevents water dripping onto the fan.


In summary, whether a fan will continue to function after getting wet depends on the extent of the water exposure, the fan’s electrical components, and safety features. While some moisture won’t necessarily harm a fan, direct water contact can damage internal parts and pose serious electric shock risks. It’s important to thoroughly dry and inspect any wet fan, looking for corrosion, fried circuitry, and other red flags. Don’t take chances by plugging in a fan that has gotten very wet or been submerged. Have it serviced by a professional or replace it if needed. With proper precautions like keeping fans away from water sources, using moisture-sealed models, and regularly cleaning dust buildup, you can help prevent water damage and enjoy safe, reliable fan operation. By understanding the risks of water exposure and following key electrical safety measures, we can protect ourselves and prevent fan-related accidents.