bathroom fan not working but light is
Kristina Davis

Your bathroom is the most significant room in the house, and that is why bathroom fan not working but light is can be a bit annoying.

Your bathroom extractor fan is an essential component in the maintenance of your bathroom’s pristine condition.

There are a number of potential causes if your bathroom fan is not working properly or is not as effective as usual.

But, why exactly has your bathroom fan stopped working but light still works?

Bathroom fan may stop working because of dirt and dust, or any issues with electrical wiring, motor performance, or fuse. 

Why Is Bathroom Fan Not Working but Light Is?

bathroom exhaust with lights on

Any issues with the extractor fan in your bathroom can put you in a lot of trouble.

A bathroom without a fan is not properly ventilated. They are useful for preventing mold and mildew growth associated with health issues.

They help reduce humidity, moisture, and unpleasant scents in the bathroom. It can be frustrating and alarming if your bathroom light still operates but the fan has stopped.

And it could be due to various reasons, some of which are covered here to get you started. 

Motor Failure

exhaust motor not working

A bathroom exhaust fan is a must-have appliance for getting rid of stale air and unpleasant smells. Yet eventually, the fan’s motor could fail, rendering the whole thing useless.

Several things could go wrong here, such as:

  • Age of the fan
  • Extensive use
  • Excessive heat

A professional electrician should be consulted if you notice that the motor on your bathroom fan is not functioning properly.

They are able to check the electrics and confirm if a new motor is required. 

Loose Wiring

Loose wiring is likely the cause of why your bathroom’s fan is turning on and off intermittently.

Although problems with the fan’s wiring are uncommon, they should not be ignored. The fan’s wiring or the switch that operates it could be at fault.

Fact: Exposed wires or loose connections offer a fire risk and should never be ignored. 

Circuit Breaker

checking circuit breaker

If you turn on the bathroom fan and see no electricity, you should immediately see if the breaker has been tripped. Too many devices using the circuit could have caused the breaker to trip (that the fan is on).

It is also possible that the breaker is faulty and tripped on its own, unrelated to any overload.

Check to see if any of the breakers in your breaker box or electrical panel box have tripped to resolve the issue. 

Ground Fault Circuit

Your non-working bathroom exhaust fan could possibly be connected to a Ground Fault Circuit. Any issue here could keep the fan from working properly.

In order to prevent electrical shocks, these outlets are typically placed in the kitchen and bathroom. In addition, it shields additional outlets from the main GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter).

If there is an imbalance in the electrical current, power to that circuit will be cut off immediately.

Finding the main GFCI outlet and pressing the reset button will fix the problem and restore electricity to the circuit.

Fact: To fix any ground fault circuit problem you need to rest it, and a reset and a test button can be found sitting atop your power outlet. 

Faulty Switch

trying the switch

The switch on a bathroom fan often fails, which is another common cause of a non-functioning fan.

It is possible for a switch to malfunction due to a number of factors, including a loose connection, a short circuit, or a defective switch mechanism.

You should have an electrician replace the switch if you think it may be the source of the problem.

Fact: Remember, the same switch controls both the fan and the light, so if it breaks, the power to either fixture will be cut off. 

Housing Outlet

Assuming the wall switch is operational, the next step is to examine the housing outlet.

An integral feature of the housing of many vintage bathroom fans is a plug that is used to power the fan motor. To gain access to this outlet, you need to pull down on the cover’s sides to cause it to lower by 1 to 2 inches.

Feel for the two metal clips protruding from the crack, then squeeze to remove them from their slots. The cover of the fan must be removed, and if an outlet is present, the motor plug must be unplugged.

Check if the housing outlet has electricity by using a voltage tester. Plugging a table lamp into the housing socket is another option to identify and confirm the issue

Blown Fuse

damaged fuse

If the light and fan are connected to the same circuit, the fan may cease working if the fuse blows but the light will continue to function.

If the fan is using too much power, the fuse could blow to safeguard the electrical system from overload.

Again, a professional electrician should be called in if a blown fuse is suspected. 


An obstruction in the ducting can be the culprit when a bathroom fan suddenly stops working.

The ducts are what get the air from the fan outside the house. The fan will cease spinning if the ductwork is clogged with dust, debris, or a bird’s nest, all restricting air from moving through the system.

If you think a blockage is to blame for your malfunctioning bathroom fan, call a professional to clear it out. 

Damaged Fan Blade

fan blade not working

The fan will stop running if the blade is broken or damaged. Wear and strain, faulty installation, or an impact can all lead to a bent or broken fan blade.

A professional HVAC expert may need to replace a damaged fan blade.

How to Test Your Bathroom Fan

A number of issues could cause your bathroom fan to stop working. In most cases, the light may continue to work but the fan would not.

Although it is best to not play with electricity, especially if you are not an expert at it, you can still perform some tests to identify the root cause of the trouble.

Toilet Paper Test

using toilet paper to test exhaust fan

Modern and environmentally friendly fans operate so silently that you may not even notice they are spinning.

The toilet paper test is useful for determining this.

  • One square of toilet paper should be placed on the fan cover and turned on.
  • Because of the fan’s suction, toilet paper should adhere to the grille cover.
  • The toilet paper should fall to the floor after you switch off the fan.

If the toilet paper does not stick to the fan’s cover while it is on, the suction is weak or the fan is broken.

Electric Voltage Test

testing with multimeter

Any voltage tester will help you to confirm if your fan has finally given up on you.

Though a voltage tester is good enough, working with a Multimeter will give you the most accurate results.

With the power on, you have to use your voltage tester to check the readings of various parts of your fan. This is a simple yet effective approach to check the functionality of your fan’s motor, switch, and wiring.

When the light in the bathroom is on but the fan is broken, this test might help you determine which part has to be replaced first.

Focus on Preventive Maintenance

opening the cover of exhaust fan

Some dirt and debris may inevitably end up in any enclosed area, but that does not mean it should be tolerated, especially in mechanical and electrical devices.

The good news is that you can simply incorporate this into your regular cleaning schedule. (You have a regular cleaning schedule, right?)

Simply, shut off the power and remove the lid to dust it like any other surface. If you cannot find a specialist cleaner, just use a soft cloth and mild detergent.

Fact: The vent itself should also be cleaned because unwanted dirt tends to accumulate in those ducts and vents.


Why is my bathroom fan not working but light is? A broken bathroom fan can be a serious problem because the bathroom is such a high-traffic area of the house.

Because they remove moisture and stale air, bathroom fans are essential for keeping a bathroom clean and sanitary.

The most typical causes of a non-functioning bathroom fan include motor failure, poor wiring, broken switches, blown fuses, and clogs in the ductwork.

The source of the issue can be identified with the help of diagnostic procedures like the toilet paper test and the electric voltage test.