Can Fans Get Wet? (13 Things You Need To Know)

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Fans are bound to get wet, so it’s helpful to know how well they will work when exposed to water, moisture, and other liquids.

Can fans get wet?

All fans can tolerate a small amount of mist, spray, or water. Outdoor fans are designed specifically to withstand harsher weather conditions. Wet-rated fans seal and protect the vulnerable parts of the fan. Waterproof fans can operate for up to 30 minutes submerged in shallow water.

There are also 13 other things you should know before getting your fan wet.

Can Fans Get Wet? (Answers to the 13 Most Asked Questions)

Rain on a windshield with the words "Can fans get wet?"
Image by author via Canva—Can Fans Get Wet?

When it comes to fans, people often ask very specific questions. Below, I’ve listed the answers to the most common questions about fans and water.

Why Can Fans Get Wet? (Explained for Beginners)

Fans can get wet because most modern electrical equipment and machines are built to stand up against a light spray with water, mist, or other liquid.

The same is true of a lawnmower or your car.

Fans come with a level of protection called a wet rating.

The wet rating indicates how much water or moisture a fan can take and still keep working properly.

For simplicity, there are four major types of ratings:

  • Dry-rated (Indoor fans)
  • Damp-rated (Outdoor fans)
  • Wet-rated (Outdoor fans)
  • Water-proof (Outdoor fans)

There are a few different types of fans that you can get for your home depending on the level of moisture protection required.

What Is a Wet-Rated Fan?

A wet-rated fan is designed to withstand water contact with the outside of the fan. The motor and other sensitive parts are sealed.

These fans are usually designed for outdoor use where there is no protective cover, such as a porch roof. A layer of rubber or silicone protects the top of the fan, pull chain, switches, and electrical wiring.

Manufacturers usually build the blades for these fans out of water-resistant plastic.

Wood or metal would rust or rot over time.

You might also install these fans in areas where liquids might be present, such as a sauna, gym, or commercial shower area.

Get a wet-rated fan when:

  • Your fan has no overhead protection (such as a roof or covering)
  • You expect heavy rainfall
  • Your fan will receive direct exposure to water from above

Only a fraction of fans get designated as wet-rated. You might find it difficult to choose from among the limited options.

That’s what happened to me when I was looking for a wet-rated fan for my rental house in Iowa.

I needed a fan that could withstand rain, snow, and ice.

Don’t worry, it’s not all doom and gloom.

Many people think they need a wet-rated fan when a damp-rated fan is likely good enough.

What Is a Damp-Rated Fan?

A damp-rated fan is an outdoor fan not specifically designed to resist direct water contact.

Instead, they can take on a small amount of moisture.

The electrical components are not completely sealed and the fan should not be used in an environment with high levels of moisture.

These fans are typically found in quasi-outdoor environments, such as a covered porch, patio, or pergola.

The main difference between a damp-rated and a wet-rated fan is that a damp-rated fan is not made for full-on outdoor conditions.

You might also find them in an indoor space, usually mounted over a door or window.

Get a damp-rated fan when:

  • Your fan has overhead protection (such as a gazebo covering)
  • There is no direct contact with water (especially from above)

Damp-rated fans come in a wider range of styles than wet-rated versions.

Some damp-rated fans utilize high-end handcrafted wood blades that have been treated with a sealant to protect against humidity and color deterioration. Therefore, they may appear to be higher quality than wet-rated fan blades.

Can You Use Indoor Fans Outside? (Helpful Advice)

Technically, you can use indoor fans outside, but I don’t recommend it.

Indoor fans will not last long exposed to the elements. Once moisture, dust, debris, and water get into the motor, the fan will malfunction.

Unless you want to purchase a new fan every few months, I would not use an indoor fan outside, even on your porch or patio. It will get expensive (and frustrating) fast.

You’re much better off getting an outdoor fan durable enough to last for years.

One last note: You can use outdoor fans inside your house or space. It’s not necessary, but there is nothing stopping you from doing it.

Can Fans Work Underwater?

Most fans will not work underwater.

Once submerged, water floods the motor. There is no way for the motor to run smoothly underwater, which prevents the blades from turning.

You can expect most indoor fans and damp-rated fans to work for a minute or two.

Wet-rated fans may keep spinning for a few minutes longer. However, it’s not correct to say that wet-rated fans work underwater.

Some commercial-grade fans are designed to be used underwater, but these are not your average home or office fan.

Interestingly, some PC computer case fans will work underwater. Most likely because of good sealing. I read about it in a forum once and decided to try it for myself at home.

The case fan ran under a few inches of water for four hours a day for roughly 7 days.

It could have likely gone longer, but I ended the experiment after a week.

Do They Make a Water-Proof Fan?

There are companies that make water-proof fans.

A waterproof fan is a fan that works for up to 30 minutes under a meter of water.

While this may sound like the perfect fan for a pool or beach area, keep in mind that these fans are very expensive.

They’re also quite large and tend to be designed for commercial use, such as in a fitness center, spa, or industrial setting.

Unless you’re looking for an industrial-sized fan and are willing to spend the extra money, I don’t recommend a water-proof fan.

Can Metal Fans Get Wet?

Yes, metal fans can get wet, but only slightly wet.

Direct water contact can damage the fan and should be avoided.

If you need to clean your metal fan, I recommend using a slightly damp cloth. Do not use any type of heavy liquid or spray.

A slightly wet cloth will help remove any dust or dirt from the fan without saturating it with water.

A metal fan will not work after exposure to a large amount of water. If a metal fan gets wet regularly, eventually the fan will rust.

Can Ceiling Fans Get Wet?

Indoor ceiling fans can get wet but should not be directly sprayed with a high dose of water. 

If water reaches your fan’s moter, it’s toast.

Not only can water exposure break your fan, but the fan could also start a fire or produce an electric shock.

Outdoor ceiling fans with a damp or wet rating can get wet.

Can Pedestal Fans Get Wet?

Only pedestal fans meant for use outside can get wet.

Standard or indoor pedestal fans may stop working. Therefore, I suggest that you do your best to protect pedestal fans from getting wet.

This can usually be accomplished by placing your pedestal fan indoors or under a roof covering.

Try to position the fan far enough under the covering to avoid any wind-blown rain.

Can Tower Fans Get Wet?

Indoor tower fans are not meant to get wet.

You can use an outdoor tower fan in wet conditions based on the fan’s wet rating.

If you want to ensure that your tower fan works properly for as long as possible, keep your fan dry and covered.

Can Neck Fans Get Wet?

The outer shell or casing of most bladeless neck fans is made of sweat and moisture-resistant material such as rubber, plastic, or silicone.

A small spray of water is unlikely to ruin a neck fan.

However, no neck fan is made for extremely wet conditions. The neck fan that I’ve found to work best in a wet situation is the Veamor fan.

It’s designed with silicone sheathing and with fewer air slots, providing less risk to the motor (and other sensitive bits).

No neck fan works when submerged underwater.

Can Box Fans Get Wet?

Box fans do not work well when wet.

Like most fans, a minuscule amount of moisture will not take a box fan out of commission. However, if the fan gets wet on a regular basis, it will eventually stop working.

Can Window Fans Get Wet?

Window fans can get wet.

Since window fans sit in windows, companies design them to work in light rain.

However, you should avoid directly spraying the fan with water or using it when it’s raining hard outside. For example, if the wind blows rain into your window fan during a downpour, the fan could short circuit.

It may even start a fire.

You can wash the blades and grill when cleaning the fan, but you should use a small vacuum and a crevice tool to clean the rest of the fan.

What Happens If You Get Your Fan Wet?

When your fan gets wet, water can enter the motor and cause irreparable damage.

In the short term, a wet fan may short circuit and stop working. Long-term, the fan may corrode from the inside out.

If your fan does get wet, let it dry before attempting to turn it on or plug it in.

What Is the Best Wet-Rated Fan?

The best wet-rated fans will come with a marine-grade finishing to resist corrosion.

With that said, it depends on two factors:

  • The type of fan you want (ceiling fan, wall-mounted fan, etc)
  • The size of your space (small, medium, large)

What Is the Best Wet-Rated Ceiling Fan?

If you’re looking for a wet-rated ceiling fan for residential use, I suggest the Modern Forms 52” Axis 3 Blade LED Smart Ceiling Fan with Light Kit.

For bigger, more industrial settings, it’s hard to go wrong with the Big Air 108″ Ceiling Fan.

This fan is aptly named, as it produces a “big” and strong airflow.

If you want a slighter breeze for a lower price, check out the Fanimation FPD8159BLW Odyn 84″ Outdoor ceiling fan.

Most people love the look, even for bigger residential spaces.

The only complaint I’ve ever heard is the amount of airflow (good but not as strong as the Big Air fan) and a few kinks with the Bluetooth technology.

What Is the Best Wet-Rated Wall Mounted Fan?

My choice for the best wet-rated, wall-mounted fan is the iLIVING Wall Mounted Outdoor Fan.

It’s going to take a beating and keep producing a strong airflow for your outdoor area. I have a few of these on the patio attached to my workshop.

Check out this three-minute clip of a video showing a quick installation and demonstration of this fan:

YouTube video by Hoov45—Can fans get wet?

Final Thoughts

Taking precautions to avoid water exposure will help you maintain your fan for as long as possible.

That said, using a fan in moderate rain or mist will not likely cause any long-term damage.

Just be sure to keep an eye on the fan and unplug it if it starts to behave oddly. And, as always, consult your manufacturer’s warranty policy before taking any action.

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Sources

Brittanica
Popular Mechanics