Your Kitchen Extractor Fan Not Working? Here Are 7 Solutions

When your extractor fan fails to work properly, you know it. Even though the hood is switched on, the kitchen is filling with smoke, fumes or odours. Our article covers all the causes and cures to get your extractor fan back on track!

When an extractor fan acts up, there are 7 common causes.

  1. Faulty motor
  2. Blown fuse
  3. Blocked filter
  4. Faulty capacitor
  5. Damaged panel
  6. Circuit breaker
  7. Melted wiring

To find out why your extractor fan is going downhill, we will look at each cause in turn. This should give you all the information you need to identify which gremlin is messing with your appliance and how to fix it.

1. Faulty Motor

One of the main components of your extractor fan is the motor. It rotates the fan, encouraging the airflow to remove odours and smoke from your kitchen. One sign of a faulty motor is unusual noise but let’s look at more specific reasons why this component malfunctions.

Inadequate Electric Supply in the Hood

When a hood has inadequate electrical support, it’s usually due to either low or high voltage. When voltage is low, the current increases which can result in damage if the motor has no overload protection.

Just in case you are curious about how this is possible (after all, for most types of loads, the current is expected to decrease at a reduced voltage), this is why. Induction motors are different because their speed is constant and independent of the supply voltage. This causes the current to rise when voltage drops.

The Fan is Blocked With a Mechanical Load

Another common reason is some kind of blockage that prevents the fan from spinning freely. This will eventually cause the motor to overload and suffer damage.

A Short in the Motor Winding

In rare cases, a short in the motor winding can make the fan spin in the opposite direction. As a result, the air blows odours and smoke back into the kitchen (instead of removing them).

The Motor is Too Old

Just like any other electrical device, your extractor fan’s motor has a lifespan. It might simply be too old. If this is the case, a replacement is the best way to go.

How to Replace an Extractor Motor

  • Read the instruction manual of your extractor fan carefully. The instructions should help you identify the various components of the motor and how to remove it successfully.
  • Switch off the fan’s power supply.
  • Remove the cover to access the internal components and wiring.
  • Carefully remove the bolts and fasteners that keep the motor in place.
  • After inserting the new motor, repeat these steps in reverse.

2. Blown Fuse

Newer models of extractor fans come with an electronic control panel. If your fan has such a panel, then you need to check if a certain fuse is responsible for your troubles. Designed to protect the extractor fan, it will blow if something goes wrong (like an uneven electric supply or a jammed fan).

The good news is that the fuse is easy to replace. However, make sure that you identify the reason why the fuse popped otherwise your new fuse might blow the moment you switch the fan on again. The new fuse should also be the same rating as the old one as a higher rating will not provide protection and a lower rating will blow the fuse again.

3. A Blocked or Damaged Filter

The extractor fan has a filter at the base of the hood which is designed to trap oil and dust particles when you cook. Let’s look at the two most common reasons why the filter can be the problem.

Blocked Filter

Oil is a very common ingredient used in cooking. Sometimes, while using oil, we burn something. When that happens a lot, smoke and carbon can clog the filter.

The blockage reaches the point where the fan is no longer able to efficiently pull air out of the kitchen. To fix this issue, you simply need to remove the filter and clean it with a bristled brush. Once the clean filter is replaced, your extractor fan should be as good as new!

Damaged Filter

However, if you notice that the filter is damaged then it needs to be replaced. No amount of cleaning will make it work properly again.

4. A Faulty Capacitor

The starting capacitor jolts your hood’s motor into action. Needless to say, if the capacitor is faulty or weak then the motor will struggle to start. If you suspect that the motor cannot activate, first check the capacitor and the power supply to make sure that both are working before you blame the motor!

If the capacitor is going to be replaced, make sure that you only buy another device with the same rating. This rating is usually printed somewhere on the capacitor itself. If you get one with a different rating, the extractor fan is likely going to malfunction.

5. A Faulty Control Panel

The control panel is effectively the brain of your extractor hood and any fault will cause the fan to malfunction. You can identify a faulty panel if you press the buttons and nothing happens – or the wrong thing happens! The only solution is to get the panel replaced.

6. Check Your Circuit Breaker

This is another issue caused by fluctuation in the electric supply. Normally, heavy appliances have their own circuit breaker at the main junction box as a safeguard. When there is a sudden spike in voltage, the circuit breaker often trips.

When this is the case, all you have to do is to wait until the supply is back to normal (if you have a multimeter, you can check the voltage yourself) and then switch the circuit breaker back on.

But sometimes, the main electrical supply is not the cause. There might have been a short somewhere. You can check your user manual for possible causes or get a professional to examine the circuit board.

7. Melted Wiring

The wiring of the kitchen exhaust fan can melt due to exposure to heat. It can also become frayed or loose over time. To check if the wiring has melted, turn off the extractor fan and remove the cover. You can use an ohm-meter (or multimeter) on the wiring to check if they are intact and fault-free.


An extractor fan is a wonderful asset to have in any kitchen. When it works, your home will remain odour and smoke-free. Luckily, if you have some DIY experience, most hiccups with an extractor fan can be fixed with a little effort on your behalf. But don’t be shy to contact a professional who can repair your appliance quickly and safely!

Do You Also Have Extractor Fans In The Bathroom?

Then here’s some extra reading!