too many words by laura lemay

The Stick in the Fan, or, There's Your Problem

Last weekend while I was sitting on the couch throwing away my life on the Internet my Macbook laptop made a noise like CRRRZZZZGGHH, and then fell silent.

“Uh,” I said. “That didn’t sound good.”

“Sounds like your fan died,” Eric said.

The fan had been making noise for a while now. Eric had joked that he can tell when I’m watching online video because my Mac starts to sound like a jet plane taking off.

I downloaded a little tool called smcFanControl that polls the fan sensor and reports how fast the fan is turning and what the current laptop temperature is. smcFanControl reported that my fan was turning at 000rpm, and that the temperature was 210ºF and climbing.

I’ve repaired this laptop a bunch of times already including replacing DVD drive, the trackpad, and the battery. It’s an older model (2011!) but other than the jet plane problem, it works just fine. At this point I’m quite familiar with opening up the box, and I’d like to make it last just a little bit longer before investing in a new one.

I ordered a new fan, which cost me $20 with free shipping from an Amazon seller. I watched a YouTube video on how to replace the fan. (Easy peasy.) The new fan arrived yesterday, and this morning I opened up the box to do the swap.

There was something stuck in the fan. I picked it out with my fingers. It was a stick.

After I removed the stick the fan turned just fine. I booted up the computer. The fan turned and turned and smcFanControl reported 3050rpm.


The laptop is silent now, it’s under 100º all the time, and now I have an extra fan. Success!