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With the arrival of hot weather,
livestock ventilation fans are
working harder than ever. But how
efficiently are they doing their
A properly maintained fan can
save money on the electric bill, and
put dollars in the pocket, says
University of Delaware extension
agricultural engineer Dr. Jim
Scarborough. Because these fans
operate in a very dusty at
mosphere, that dust coats their
motors, blades and shutters,
making them work harder than
necessary. And this costs money.
To illustrate his point, the
specialist cites a recent field study
at the University of Delaware
Agricultural Experiment Station
by power and machinery specialist
Dr. Norman E. Collins, which
shows that inadequate main
tenance is the leading cause of
reduced fan performance.
Before cleaning, one fan in
Collins’ study discharged 6256
CFM (cubic feet per minute) of air
using 912 watts; after cleaning, it
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BUR FARM El INC.
OOTTERER t KOLESAR,
Mill Hall. Pa
NICHOLS FARM EQUIP.
Summer fan maintenance can save money
discharged 7708 CFM, using 864
watts, when cleaned the fan had to
operate 19 percent less time and
used less power to move the same
amoung of air than it did when
dirty. This translates into savings
of $59 per year on a single fan.
Multiply that figure by all the fans
in a building and the savings
Scarborough recommends that
producers service fans routinely
during periods of heavy use. To
avoid adverse efforts on poultry or
livestock during hot weather, he
suggests cleaning and servicing
fans between flocks or on a cool
day, using the following
First, shut off power at the
electric breaker box to the fan to
be cleaned. If the breaker is hard
to find, this would be a good time to
mark each breaker or fuse circuit.
Then check wires in the breaker
box for possible rodent damage
and clean out any material that
may have accumulated there. If
the box is especially dirty or filled
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with trash, cut the power and clean
it thoroughly to reduce a potential
Next, tackle the fan. Begin by
removing safety shields or screens
from its housing. Then use a stiff
nylon brush and a vacuum cleaner
to remove dust from all fan
components. He suggests using a
shop vacuum instead of a
household vacuum to avoid
complaints. To remove a heavy
build-up of dirt, the specialist
suggests using a plastic windshield
scraper. Take care not to nick or
gouge the blades when scraping
them. Such damage can cause a
dynamic imbalance in the blades
and increase fan noise and
vibration during operation.
For a thorough cleaning, use a
high pressure sprayer to wash the
fan unit provided the motor is
totally enclosed in the housing.
Otherwise, take the unit apart and
clean the motor separately.
Once the fan is clean, lubricate it
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according to the manufacturer’s
guidelines. Don’t use too much
oil, because any excess will attract
dust and may get into the motor
windings. Do not oil shutter hinges,
as they’ll become sticky when dust
accumulates. Instead, use
graphite lubricant or a few drops
If the fan is belt-driven, proper
belt maintenance and adjustment
is very important, Scarborough
Says. Many belt-driven fans use
the motor weight as a self
tensioning device. Check the
hinges on the motor mount or
counter balance beam to make
sure they operate freely. Apply a
small amount of graphite lubricant
if the hinges are stiff.
On fixed-belt drive units, check
the belt for proper tension by
depressing it with your finger. It
should be possible to depress it the
same distance as it is thick.
Replace a badly worn belt, but
remember to readjust it in a couple
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of weeks, as it will stretch after
Having cleaned and serviced the
fan, replace any screens or guards
which were removed and put the
unit back into operation. Mark the
date on the fan housing with a felt
tipped pen, as a reminder of when
it was serviced.
Scarborough says producers
should check fans monthly during
periods of heavy use and clean
them as needed. A regular
maintenance program will extend
the life of the fans and save money.
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