30 January 2015

Fan-tastic Vent Cleaning and Maintenance

The Fan-tastic Vent is a must-have RV item, especially if you enjoy off-the-grid camping or boondocking. This American-made fan moves a tremendous amount of air and makes a big difference in comfort in your RV, especially on warm summer nights. If you're like me, your fan gets a lot of use during the year. This heavy use means that periodic cleaning and maintenance is necessary to keep it looking good, to prevent leaks, and to keep the fan working in peak operating condition. I like to clean my Model 6000 unit two or three times a year.

As you probably already know, the screen and the 12-inch fan blade get the dirtiest and require the most amount of attention. In 2009, Fan-tastic Vent came out with a pop and lock, snap-on screen which really makes the task of cleaning-up quick and easy (the old screen had eight small screws that took forever to remove). If you've never removed a pop and lock screen, a few tips are warranted. First, some force is required to pull the screen away from the fan housing, so don't be afraid to give it a good yank. Just grab the flared edge of the screen frame and pull down. Once that side of the screen is loose, just condense and rotate the screen frame a bit and it will come loose. To clean the screen, I recommend that you clean it in a sink with suds and hot water. Some light scrubbing may be necessary to get the screen completely clean.

Cleaning the fan blade while it is attached to the motor is possible, but is cumbersome and time consuming. In order to clean the topside of each blade, you'll need to slightly advance and reverse the fan to allow your fingers access (the bowtie motor mount gets in the way). After awhile you'll get the hang of it. Like I said, it does take time, but you can do a pretty decent job of cleaning the blades going this route. Unfortunately, you won't be able to wipe down the outer edges of the vent housing and fan blade, but that's the tradeoff cleaning it in this manner. 

Cleaning the fan blade is possible with the fan still mounted.

Cleaning the fan blade in much easier by first detaching it from the motor. Removing the fan blade from inside your RV is possible, but it does require removal of the entire screen assembly first. If you decide to go this route, you'll want to first remove the fuse. Once this is done, remove the two screws holding the lift motor in place as well as the three screws that attach the screen assembly to the vent housing. After these are removed the assembly will drop from the housing (most people just let the assembly hang from the wires since the assembly really doesn't weigh that much). Next, remove the fan blade by removing the brass-colored Phillips-head screw from the center shaft (if you have an older model you'll need to loosen the 3/32 inch hex screw on the blade core instead).

View showing the fan blade removed from inside the RV.

Like the screen, I recommend soaking the fan blade in a sink with suds and hot water though wiping it down with a window cleaner like Windex works well, too (another option is to wash the screen and fan blade in a dishwasher). Before reattaching the fan, you'll want to clean the radius-ed edges of the screen assembly as this often gets just as dirty as the blades themselves. Once the fan is cleaned, reattach it and the screen assembly by reversing all of the steps you took for removal. Make sure the wiring is tucked away properly and not crimped or jammed when reinstalling.

UP ON THE ROOF

In the opinion of some, the roof offers the best access to clean your Fan-tastic Vent. First, you'll need to disengage the arm that moves the vent cover up and down by removing the screw. Once this is done, pull the vent cover all the way back then remove the four screws that hold the fan motor bowtie mount to the housing. Before lifting the motor out, you'll need to disconnect the 12-volt wiring. The snap-tight wiring connectors make this easy to do in some models. Remove and clean the fan blade as described earlier and give the screen assembly and vent lid and good cleaning before you reassemble everything. While you're up there, you'll also want to treat the rubber gasket seal with a good UV resistant lubricant to keep it soft and supple. Lubricating the motor with a light machine oil is also a good idea.

The last and perhaps the most important step involves a careful inspection of the vent caulking around the flange. Make sure the caulking is tight and has no cracks in it. If there are any signs of old and cracked caulking, you'll want to remove it and apply fresh caulking (I prefer Dicor lap sealant for all of my rooftop caulking). An even better alternative, however, is to apply strips of Eternabond Tape over the flange of the vent. This easy-to-use tape will provide a water tight seal that will last well over 10 years.

Cracked caulking means leaks and must be corrected.
Leaks repaired with Eternabond Tape.