10-Minute Tech: Get a Handle on the Fan Crank

Get a Handle on the Fan Crank
Illustration by William Tiptop


My wife and I are too short to reach the fan crank handle on the overhead vents in our Jayco trailer without standing on a step stool. Our neighbor solved the dilemma with a simple tool he fashioned from a tree branch about 5/8 inches in diameter. The legs of the “Y” are cut about 2 to 3 inches to fit the diameter of the handle/knob. The length of the “tool” can be made to whatever suits the user. The handle end is also squared off to operate the switch.

Frank Foti | Natick, Massachusetts



  1. Don’t want to retrieve a stick or hunt it down for a vent knob? The full-time non-destructive option is to purchase a 1 1/2 to 1 1/4 reducing Frenco (the rubber pipe connectors) and 1 1/4 PVC.

    Remove the knob and stretch the larger end of the Frenco over it to just cover the knob edge. Cinch up the stainless steel band over the rubber at the edge of the knob. Note that you will likely have to open the band some to fit over the knob. Reinstall the knob by inserting the screwdriver through the Frenco.

    I used glossy black furniture grade PVC without the manufacturer’s paint for a better look. There are also various style matching end caps for this type of PVC pipe. Cut the pipe square at the desired length (probably no more than a foot). I measured the difference between my wife’s hand poised to turn the knob and the bottom of the screen and added an inch knowing the cap I chose would add another half inch. If you chose an end cap, use PVC cement to mount it to the factory cut end of the pipe.

    Apply a a film of soapy water to the cut end of the pipe, twist it up into the bottom of the mounted Frenco and tighten the clamp. If you leave a gap between the pipe and the knob inside the Frenco, the Frenco acts like a spring if a person is tall enough to bump the bottom of the pipe, saving both the person and the knob from breaking.

    In my case, the vent trim is deep enough to hide the Frenco unless you are directly under the vent and the exposed glossy PVC doesn’t look ‘homemade’. My cost was about US$10 per extender.

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