Why Is My Portable Electric Fan Heater Blowing Cold Air?

I have a small portable electric fan heater that recently started blowing cold air when I had the heat settings turned up.

So, I took some steps to troubleshoot the problem and try to fix it.

Before you try any tips in this article, be sure that your appliance is turned off and unplugged from the electricity source.

Why Does An Electric Fan Heater Stop Blowing Hot Air?

These are the reasons why an electric fan heater blows cold air instead of hot:

  • Thermostat set below room temperature
  • Clogged air intake
  • Clogged air outlet
  • Loose wiring
  • Broken heating element

I’ve listed them in order of how likely it is you can fix the issue. Let’s take each in turn.

Thermostat Is Stuck Below Room Temperature

 The model in the picture has a thermostat that lets you regulate the temperature. I have it set to the maximum in this picture. Yet my fan heater is blowing cold air.

I’ve listed this as the easiest to fix – but that’s only if you’ve mistakenly set it at a low level. Just turn it up!

If the thermostat is actually broken then you’re not going to fix it.

One indication is if you don’t hear it clicking on and off as you move the dial all the from end to end (when the appliance is plugged in and turned on).

Clogged Air Intake

The air vents on the sides of the fan heater can get obstructed with dust. If these vents get blocked, the heating element will be impacted. At worst, it will burn out.

I checked both sides of my heater for any gunge or debris. A toothpick may dislodge larger particles, but won’t be of much use with dust.

So I ran the vacuum cleaner over the vents to hoover up any dust.

A detailed digital art image of a clogged air intake on a portable electric fan heater

Clogged Air Outlet

The grill outlet on the fan heater can also get clogged with debris or dust. The gaps are bigger than with the side vents, so you should be able to see if there’s a problem.

Again, I used my vacuum cleaner to take away any dust that might be blocking the grill.

Loose Wiring

These small portable fan heaters are so convenient for moving from room to room. The problem is that they’re also easy to drop. I’ve let a few hit the floor over the years.

So, if the heater stops emitting warm air after I’ve dropped it – I know that I’ve either dislodged a wire or broken the heating element. And I’ve got nothing to blame except myself!

You may not have had such a drastic mishap with your own heater. But an appliance that gets moved from place to place is more prone to loose wiring.

Unfortunately, there’s little you can do to inspect the smaller models. They’re not meant to be taken apart by their owners.

A fault in the wiring can also produce sparks, which of course is a problem. However, flashes aren’t always the sign of an issue.

You can read more in our article on different reasons why electric fan heaters can spark.

Broken Heating Element

The heating element will degrade over time, particularly with frequent use at a high temperature. However, wear and tear shouldn’t cause a problem within a reasonable warranty period (e.g. over two years).

Again, dropping the portable heater may damage the heating coil. A hard knock could also dislodge it.

If you hear something knocking around inside the unit when gently shaken, then it may well be the element. This isn’t something you can fix yourself.

Keeping The Receipts

In my experience, the small cheap fan heaters are prone to stop working within a few years. I’ve certainly gone through a lot of them! This is why I always stick the receipts into a kitchen drawer.

I couldn’t get my electric fan heater to blow hot air with the fixes I suggested. As I purchased it in a shop, the solution is to take it back to the retailer for replacement.

But what if you purchased it online? You should contact the online retailer’s customer support. These small heaters are so cheap that the retailer may choose simply to refund your money.

A hand holding a vacuum cleaner hose next to a dusty fan heater

Is It Worth Getting A Small Electric Fan Heater Repaired?

If your fan heater is out of warranty, then you may think of getting it professionally repaired.

In my case, the appliance cost me twenty bucks. Getting it repaired would cost more than replacing it with the same model.

Dean Casey
About Dean Casey

Hi, I'm Dean Casey, the founder and chief editor of HomeHeatingHQ.com.

With over 15 years of experience in the HVAC industry, my passion is helping homeowners achieve optimal comfort and energy efficiency in their living spaces. As a certified HVAC technician and consultant, I have developed a deep understanding of home heating systems, insulation, and energy-saving practices.

I started this blog to provide well-researched, practical advice to homeowners looking to improve their home's heating performance and reduce energy bills. Whether it's comprehensive guides, hands-on product reviews, or expert tips, my goal is to share valuable information with you, my readers.

I enjoy spending time with my family and exploring the great outdoors when I'm not busy writing and researching. I'm also an avid DIYer, always eager to tackle new home improvement projects and share my experiences with you.

If you have any questions or comments about home heating, please don't hesitate to reach out through the contact page on the website. I'm always happy to help!

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