Don't delay on replacing horse stall fans

Whew! Hot weather is here! Have you put a box fan on your horse’s stall yet?

Our fans are up, and our horses sure know it. Strolling in from the summer pastures or schooling, they plant themselves in front of their fans and zone out to the peaceful drone and soothing air circulation.

But fans can be dangerous in the horse barn, unless humans take a few simple precautions. Each year, improperly used fans lead to disastrous consequences in far too many horse stables.

Try these six tips for stall fan safety.

1. Buying a new fan each year is a worthy investment.

Basic box fans are budget-friendly. A horse owner can pick up a standard three-speed box fan for $12 to $25, depending on bargains and brands. Most equestrians skip the pricey high-velocity fans, simply because they plan to replace their fans annually.

Last year’s fan is likely filled with lint, dust, stall shavings and other debris. The motor may be ready to short-circuit. The cord may be frayed, even in miniscule ways that cannot be seen, but can surely be hazardous.

Barn fires are devastation. The horse world has seen far too many. Is it really worth the risk to save a $12 or even $25?

2. Manufacturers periodically issue factory recalls on box fans.

The latest fan recall occurred about a year ago. In May 2011, 4.8 million box fans were recalled for defects that resulted in fire hazards. Stores were supposed to remove the affected merchandise, but such fans occasionally turn up anyway.

3. Resale fans are no bargain.

Once in a while, folks find fans in yard sales or thrift shops. Again, is it worth the fire safety risk to purchase a cheap fan?

Boarders may leave fans behind when they move their horses. A free used fan is never a good deal, either.


4. Coiled extension cords can start fires.

Although some stables feature electrical outlets by every horse stall, others may not.

Heavy-duty, outdoor-quality, grounded extension cords are fine for stall fans. However, fire safety experts and electrical engineers warn against looping these wires together. Winding around beams may be OK, but wire-on-wire coils can create sparks.

Smart horse owners measure first and try to find extension cords that best fit the distance from their horses’ stalls to the nearest outlet, devoting those cords exclusively to fan use.

5. Bungee cords should be stretchy and secure.

Bungees are cheap, but they don’t last forever. If these hooked bands have lost their elasticity, they have to go. A snapped bungee can hurt a horse or human, or topple a fan.

The bungee hooks should be strong and still curved to fasten securely, so horses cannot catch any anatomical features on them.

Usually, a pair of 30” to 32” heavy-duty bungee cords works best to hang standard square stall fans. Adjustable bungees may be found as well.


One bungee cord goes vertically, and the other goes horizontally, forming a “+” across the motor of the fan. The fan, of course, is supposed to circulate fresh air into the horse’s stall, rather than the other way around. (Don’t ask. It’s been done.)

Baling twine, wire, or string is not safe for fastening box fans to horse stalls. And fans should not dangle or wiggle, once installed (see photo).
6. Stall fans may be best placed upside-down.

A box fan may offer comfort to a hot horse and peace of mind to a caring horse owner on a hot summer day. But the fan cannot run around-the-clock, as it may burn out or short out.

Why not make it easy for barn staff or fellow boarders to switch off fans by inverting them on installation? If the on/off dial is placed within easy reach, folks won’t be tempted to yank on the fan cord daily, causing fraying and a possible fire hazard.

Also, the flimsy little plastic feet should be removed from a brand-new box fan and discarded, as these are only appropriate for floor use.

Stay safe when using stall fans.

Fan safety is a critical feature of barn safety, all summer long. Grab those bungees! It’s time to cool the barn. But be careful.

Box fan by ArbitrarilyO
Creative Commons Licensing/Wikipedia Commons Photos

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1 comment:

  1. just my 2 cents about "expensive" fans.
    IN 1970 my father gave me 20 dollars to buy a fan just like the one in your photo.
    In 1990 I had to get me a new one, as the old one was dying (I use it in my house, it lasts longer). It cost me 20 dollars.
    Last month my dear husband bought me a new fan because the plastics on my 22 year old fan were crumbling. Yes, you guessed it; it cost $20.00.
    at the same time almost everything else has increased in price by a power of ten, that fan you are buying is a really good deal!!!! (not expensive at all.)

    Mimi Torchia Boothby Watercolors



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