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Tips and tricks for cleaning fans

Dan Veeneman for Progressive Dairyman Published on 16 May 2018

No one wants to spend more time than they have to cleaning fans in their barn. Yet, we all know that fans need to be cleaned. Here are some tips and tricks to make cleaning your fans and other ventilation equipment go as smoothly as possible.

1) Safety first

This may seem like common sense, but before any work is done, ensure that your ventilation equipment is powered off and cannot be turned on by anyone else. Also, ensure that you are equipped with all the required safety gear, such as glasses and gloves as required.



2) Spring cleaning is not just for your house

Take some time each spring and clean your fans and other ventilation equipment. Doing this once a year will make it a more manageable task. Regular cleaning will limit the amount of buildup that will accumulate on your fans. Doing this in the spring will ensure that your fans are ready to perform at their best in the summer when they are needed most.

I suggest you incorporate fan cleaning into your regular maintenance program if it is not already. Any time that you are working on a fan, take a few extra minutes to clean it as well. Any cleaning done today is less that you have to do later.

3) Be careful with water

Cleaning fans, curtains, baffles and inlets with a pressure washer may seem like a great idea. If you are going to do this, keep these things in mind:

  • Use a pressure washer that has at least 2,000 psi and 2 gpm of flow. A smaller unit will only take longer to clean.
  • Don’t get water everywhere. Use plastic or other material to keep water out of beds and away from feed. 
  • Remove blades, shutters, louvers or other removable components and take them to a wash bay for proper cleaning.
  • Ensure that all electrical equipment is turned off and that electrical connections are protected from water.
  • Don’t leave water on the fans or other ventilation equipment. Sitting water will attract more dust and buildup. Use a dry cloth or an air compressor to ensure that the equipment is dry when you are finished.
  • Be careful with hot water. While hot water will make cleaning more effective, adding all of that humidity to your barn can lead to some negative effects. If using a hot water pressure washer, ensure that the barn is fully ventilated. Depending on what you are cleaning, hot water may not be suitable.

4) Use your vacuum

A shop vac with a stiff-bristled brush may be all you need. This will eliminate the need for water and also keep the dust down. You can also use plastic scrapers to loosen the hard-to-remove buildup. When using this method, be careful not to damage the blades, as this can put the fans out of balance.

5) When nothing else works, turn to chemicals

As a last resort, look at using heavy-duty degreasers and cleaners to remove the buildup. Select a cleaner that is powerful enough to get the job done, but one that is also safe and easy to work with. A citrus-based cleaner is one of the best options. They work well, and they are safe to work with. Be sure to follow all of the instructions when cleaning with any chemicals.


6) Keep it simple

If you need to, work with your ventilation dealer to see if cleaning can be incorporated into a maintenance plan. This will keep you and your staff free to take care of the daily farm duties.

Keeping fans, curtains, inlets and baffles clean will go a long way in extending the life of your ventilation equipment. Fans will lose up to 30 percent of their performance with dirty blades. Dirty shutters and louvers will only compound that effect. Cleaning curtains and other inlets is a good start to ensuring that they are operating at peak performance. Adequate inlet space is key in barn ventilation.  end mark

Dan Veeneman
  • Dan Veeneman

  • Artex Barn Solutions
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