A bathroom fan without a working heater will produce airflow, but it won’t be warm enough to keep you comfortable. So, why would the heater fail even when everything else works?
Your bathroom fan heater isn’t working because the heating element is broken. Besides that, a defective heater switch or triggered thermal fuse will also stop the unit from generating heat. Lastly, check that the bathroom fan doesn’t have any loose or damaged wiring.
The following sections will lay out all the possible reasons your bathroom fan isn’t working. Better yet, you’ll also discover why those reasons happen and how you can resolve them quickly.
Why Won’t My Bathroom Fan Heater Work?
When your bathroom fan heater doesn’t work, you must troubleshoot it for the following issues:
Broken Heating Element
About this: The heating element relies on an electrical heating element to generate heat. That element consists of coils made from metals with high electrical resistance.
So, as electricity flows through those coils when you turn the heater on, the resistance will convert much of that electricity into heat.
Then, that heat is distributed thanks to the built-in fan that blows air past the heating element.
What’s wrong: The heating element in your bathroom fan is likely broken if it’s not generating heat. That typically happens because of excess wear from being used so much.
After all, the metal coils expand each time you turn the heater on.
Then, they contract when they cool down. The long-term repetition of those two processes will cause the heating element to wear out and break.
How to fix it: There’s good and bad news about this problem. The bad news is that you can’t restore a heating element once it’s worn out and broken. It’s no longer of any use once it reaches that point.
The good news is that the heating element is effortless to replace, even with minimal technical knowledge.
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Once you purchase a replacement compatible with your bathroom fan, you only have to mount it and reconnect its wiring.
Defective Heater Switch
About this: Another essential component for your bathroom fan heater isn’t even in the heater itself. Instead, it’s the switch on your wall that you use to turn the heater on and off.
The heater switch is crucial because it controls the flow of electricity to the bathroom fan and its heater. So, it must be in excellent condition to allow you to control the bathroom fan.
What’s wrong: Assuming the heating element is in excellent condition, the second likely reason your bathroom fan heater isn’t working is a defective heater switch.
Typically, bathroom fans have a separate switch allowing you to control the heater separately. However, if that switch is defective, it won’t let electricity flow to the heater when you turn it on.
Those defects can be caused by a wrong installation of the switch. However, the defects might also be manufacturing defects from when you first bought it.
How to fix it: Firstly, you’ll need to remove and inspect the heater switch. If the switch was wrongly installed, you can reinstall it correctly.
Be sure to check that the connections are tight so they’ll never be loose or come undone once you mount the switch back in the wall.
However, you’ll have to buy a new switch if it is defective. You can use a
Triggered Thermal Fuse
About this: Any household with a heating element will have a thermal fuse, including your bathroom fan.
That kind of fuse is a sacrificial device that protects the bathroom fan from overheating. When the fan and its heater reach unsafe temperatures, it’ll be triggered and break the electrical circuit.
As a result, the heating element stops receiving power and cools down rapidly.
It’s called a ‘sacrificial device’ because it’s designed to get destroyed when temperatures rise too high. Doing so prevents the dangerous risks of overheating, such as house fires.
What’s wrong: Your bathroom fan heater has stopped working because the thermal fuse has been triggered by excess heat. As you read above, that only happens when the bathroom fan overheats and reaches unsafe temperatures.
The root cause could be an electrical fault, like a short circuit or a lack of airflow. For example, a clogged bathroom fan vent will restrict airflow, causing the heater to overheat.
How to fix it: Once the thermal fuse blows, it’s no longer helpful. You’ll have to remove it and install a compatible replacement.
But remember: the blown thermal fuse is only a side effect. You must also troubleshoot the bathroom fan to figure out why it was overheating in the first place.
For example, the heating element might have shorted out, causing it to heat non-stop. If that’s the case, you’ll also have to replace the heating element.
Be sure to troubleshoot the root cause before using the bathroom fan heater. If you don’t, the problem will likely repeat itself and blow the new thermal fuse.
Loose Or Damaged Wires
About this: The bathroom fan heater is an electrical device. That means it requires wires to supply it with electricity so it can function correctly.
The heating element has wiring connecting it directly to the wall switch. That wiring must have strong connections to ensure power can flow whenever you turn the heater on.
What’s wrong: The last issue you’ll want to troubleshoot is loose or damaged wires. For example, the wiring connecting the heating element to the heater switch might be loose.
Besides that, the wires might also be damaged from electrical faults like power surges and short circuits. When those faults occur, the wires can overheat and burn themselves, causing the heater not to work.
How to fix it: Loose wires can be reconnected firmly to ensure that they don’t come undone again. However, you’ll have to replace all damaged wiring with new ones.
Replacing damaged wiring isn’t just about getting your fan heater working again. But it’s also about keeping your household safe, as damaged wires can raise the fire risk.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Check out these questions and answers to help with your troubleshooting process:
Do Bathroom Fan Heaters Use A Lot Of Electricity?
Yes, bathroom fans with heaters use a lot more electricity than those without heaters. That’s because much power is needed to convert into heat to keep your bathroom warm.
Why Do Bathroom Fans Have Heaters?
Bathroom fans have heaters to help warm up the bathroom while you shower. That’s necessary for colder months, like during winter.
Are Bathroom Heaters Safe?
Yes, bathroom heaters are safe if you install and maintain them correctly. That includes getting a professional to hardwire it for you and cleaning the bathroom fan regularly, so it’s free from dust and other buildups.
How Long Can You Leave A Bathroom Heater On?
You should only leave the bathroom heater on while you’re using the bathroom. Otherwise, it’s a waste of energy and raises the fire risk if the unit overheats.
Can You Install A Bathroom Fan Heater Yourself?
Yes, you can install a bathroom fan with a heater if you’re familiar with electrical work. Otherwise, it’s always best to refer to a qualified electrician who can install it safely, correctly, and according to local electrical codes.