When you switch on the laptop, you may have heard an accelerating sound- that is the laptop fan.
For as long as you use your laptop, the fan keeps running periodically to cool your laptop down, and thus it can fall into disrepair from time to time.
The most common sign of a defective laptop fan is a strange buzzing noise that it emits. The sound may start from the moment you turn on your laptop or after a few minutes of using it.
Needless to say, not only is the sound very distracting, but also you should be concerned about what might be causing it.
Sometimes the strange buzz slowly transforms into a grinding noise making it sound all the more dangerous.
In any case, you should fix the fan as soon as possible.
Why my laptop fan is making a weird grinding or buzzing noise?
Let us first try and address why such a noise occurs from the laptop fan:
When a lot of dust accumulates around the laptop fan it gets more difficult for the blades to move smoothly. A laptop fan making a rattling noise is because the dust accumulation is blocking the fan from proper functioning.
Also, the fan’s main function is to cool your laptop down by distributing the heat through the air and it uses the vents on the side of your device to do the same.
A laptop fan that is blocked because of dust accumulation will also not be able to perform its cooling function and this will lead to overheating of the laptop. The fan will still run, but with much exertion which will accelerate the damage until it stops running altogether.
Lack of proper Ventilation
Have you noticed hot air coming out from the tiny vents on the side of your laptop? That is because the fan inside is dissipating the hot air outside the laptop to cool it down.
The more demanding the activity you perform on your laptop, the more heat it will generate. Thus keeping the vents free from any hindrance in front of it is important,
We sometimes want to work from the comfort of our bed and thus place the laptop on a pillow or a blanket. The laptop sinks into the material while the vents remain blocked.
This overheats the laptop and the fans have to work twice as hard to cool the device down. Regularly doing such a thing will wear the laptop fan down thus starting the weird noise that we all dread.
So always make sure to keep your laptop on a desk or laptop stand so that the vents are never blocked.
All said and done, laptop fans are mechanical parts that will eventually have to be replaced. If you are using your laptop for heavy-weight purposes such as high-quality video streaming, gaming, etc, then the heating of a laptop is more than usual and the fans have to run faster.
Editing applications and games need elaborate configuration to be set up on your laptop and thus when they are active, multiple parts of the device are in use.
For instance, a professional gamer will need to replace their laptop fan more than a person who uses their laptop for writing and simple internet browsing. Infact, the latter person may not have to get a new fan during the entire life of the laptop while the gamer may have to replace the fan at least once.
Another reason why your laptop fan is making a weird noise is probably that the parts surrounding it are rusted and need to be changed immediately.
While the fan itself is made of plastic, the mechanisms that hold it together such as screws and joints are made of metal. Continuous exposure to humid air can cause these parts to fall to rust.
The rattling noise that a laptop fan with rusted parts will make is very different from the usual loud sound of a laptop fan buzzing.
How to fix a laptop fan buzzing or grinding noise?
Now you have a good idea about what might be causing the weird noise from the laptop fan. Let us try to fix that annoying sound by trying these methods:
Kill background processes / Reset the SMC
The loud sound from a laptop fan may be because it is overexerted. Keeping multiple processes open in the background may be causing a strain on the processing power of the CPU or the video card which in turn generates a lot of heart for the fan to deal with.
Thus, kill all the background programs from the task manager of your laptop. This can not only lessen pressure on the fan but also ensure the smooth functioning of your laptop.
If you are a MAC user then try resetting the SMC. This will possibly deal with the loud laptop fan grinding noise.
Clean the laptop fan
If dust accumulation is the problem then doing a little cleaning of the insides of your laptop can do the trick. Open up the laptop and take a brush to clean the dust off the rotor blades, vents, and the surrounding areas.
A lint-free cloth with rubbing alcohol can also be used. Some oils are specially used to clean laptop parts, you can use that too. Do not use any water-based product or water at all.
For tiny nooks that cannot be reached with a brush or cloth, use a blow dryer with a room temperature air setting or a bottle with compressed air that can be released at high pressure from a thin nozzle. The dust stuck in the unreachable corners can be removed in this way.
Use an External cooler
The laptop fan making a buzzing noise often happens because the device is being used for long durations and for purposes that exert much pressure on the CPU such as gaming and media editing. For such cases, you can buy a cooling pad to externally cool your laptop and thus lessen the load on the laptop fan.
If you keep your laptop in a static position all the time, then the addition of an external cooling pad is ideal for you. You have to set up the laptop onto the pad and then use it.
But do keep in mind that this is not a long-term solution, because if the underlying cause behind the loud noises of your laptop fan is rust or disrepair then you ultimately have to replace it.
Use a cooling pad if you are sure that the sound your laptop fan is making is because of the pressure exerted onto it by the overheating of the laptop.
Control fan speed by using a software
By now you must have realized that the sound of a laptop fan depends on how fast it is running. So a simple solution for the annoying laptop fan grinding noise or buzzing noise should be to reduce the speed of the fan.
Well, you cannot reduce it using a button or anything, but you can use external software for controlling the speed of the fan.
When you hear the fan speeding up, you can simply reduce it and thus stop the sound with it. However, there’s another side of this solution you should consider.
The fan runs faster to cool your laptop down so if you are using the software to reduce the fan speed but using your laptop for demanding tasks, then the device will just heat up exponentially and potentially damage other more important parts.
So if you are controlling the speed of the fan, make sure that the pressure on the CPU and video card is minimal.
Check for malware
You might be wondering what malware has to do with the laptop fan as it is not a part that is intrinsically relevant to the main function of a laptop like for instance a Hard Disk.
The thing is malware may be causing unnecessary strain on your laptop’s mechanisms. Most laptops come with an in-built anti-malware software but you should consider getting a more proactive one.
Regularly running scans for malware or virus will protect the device from any type of virus attacks and such. Good antivirus software will also warn you when you are about to enter a suspicious website or download a file that can expose your system to a virus attack.
Invest in a laptop stand
One reason why your laptop fan is making a strange noise is probably that you are not letting it breathe. If you are used to placing your computer on your bed while using it then it might be time to invest in a laptop stand that will elevate it up on the firm ground and not block the vents on the side.
Setting the laptop on a pillow or the bed is not a good idea as the heavy laptop will sink into the soft material thus blocking the vents.
Always make sure that nothing is stopping the passage of air from the vents while you use it.
Re-apply thermal paste
The thermal paste is a compound applied to the processor to achieve the ideal heat conductivity. This is because the processor undergoes much strain and can get heated up easily. A dysfunctioning processor will also result in a dysfunctioning laptop.
The thermal paste can dry out over time and exert strain on the processor which will cause overheating leading to the laptop fan making a grinding noise or a buzzing noise.
The best way to deal with this is to open up the laptop and re-apply the thermal paste. Remember to gently clean the dried-out paste before you apply the new batch!
Upgrade/Adjust the laptop OS
You might have seen your laptop upgrading from time to time. This is an automatic process unless, of course, you turn off the automatic upgrade feature. The upgrades adjust the hardware drive into the laptop’s operating systems.
It is this very driver, which can over-expand the resources of your laptop and cause the weird noise from the fan. Usually, in such a case, an upgrading of the OS or adjusting the existing upgrade will stop the software driver problems and solve the fan noise issue as well.
Replace the fan
If none of these above fixes have worked then unfortunately you might have to start looking into a new fan.
As stated at the very first of this guide, laptop fans are ultimately mechanical objects and will eventually get to a point where they cannot be fixed anymore.
You have to replace it when that happens.
If you are not confident about replacing the fan yourself, you should get a professional to do it.
The Bottom Line
If you are using your laptop for a lot of heavy work and for long durations, then occasional wear and tear of parts should not worry you too much.
Clean your laptop periodically to avoid any ensuing issues. Some Apple laptops are built without a fan so you may want to look into that if the loud noise is very bothersome for you.
However, do remember that buzzing noise is different from a rattling or grinding noise. The laptop fan grinding noise that you hear is very unlikely to be because of a software issue so don’t try to fix it with another software. The grinding sound is mostly caused due to rusted fan parts or other hardware problems and in that case, the fan should be replaced.
Hopefully, this guide was able to address your problem accurately and one of these methods is going to work out for you. However, if the problem persists then the wisest course of action will be to take the laptop to a professional.