MacBook Air Overheating: Causes and Fixes

Your MacBook Air could be overheating due to several factors, including a hardware issue with the fan, a clogged fan vent, or insufficient air circulation.

My name is Ty. I have been in IT for a few years and have dealt with many technical issues and strange occurrences. A frequent problem people run into is an overheating laptop. 

This article will go into why your MacBook Air is overheating and what you can do to fix it. 

Let’s get into it. 

Key Takeaways

  • Faulty hardware or a blocked fan vent could cause your MacBook to overheat.
  • Make sure that your vent is not blocked by debris or dust. 
  • Do not use your MacBook Air directly on something like a blanket or comforter; it will constrict the airflow and lead to your laptop overheating.

Cause #1: Vent Blockage Can Cause MacBook Air Overheating

A common place for us to use our MacBook Air is our bed. It is nice, comfy, and convenient. But it can also be a bit dangerous if you aren’t aware. 

The vents on a MacBook Air with an Intel chipset are located in the hinge toward the bottom. Using your laptop directly on a soft, cushiony surface, such as your bed, could obstruct the airflow, suffocating your device. 

M1 and M2 chipsets have a fanless design, but using it directly on a pillow or blanket can still lead to the system overheating.

This causes your MacBook Air to heat up, and the fans will kick up a notch to accommodate, but the MacBook can quickly overheat. 

How to Fix

In the short term, to get your temps down, you should lift it off your comforter directly. But this does not mean you can’t use your MacBook Air while in bed. There are laptop risers to help increase air circulation while in the comfort of your bed!

The next step is to be warned against and will void the warranty or AppleCare if you have it, but if you want, you can get inside your MacBook Air and clean it more in-depth.

You may need to purchase a repair toolkit like this one to get inside your MacBook. Once you are in, use a compressed air duster with a brush top to loosen and clear out the blockage. This will free up the airway and help put less strain on your fans. 

Cause #2: Check Activity Monitor for High CPU Usage

The fans will speed up when your MacBook Air is under heavy load. If your fans are louder than usual, it could be the software you are currently running. 

An easy way to check your CPU usage is to navigate to the Spotlight Search on the top right of your screen, then search for Activity Monitor. Once it is open, it will show you all of your active processes and software, as well as the percentage of CPU they are currently using. 

How to Fix

Check which Apps are using the majority of your CPU and if they are essential. If you do not need them open or aren’t currently using them, it would be best to exit them. To terminate a process, click on it and select the X icon next to Activity Monitor. 

This will free up some much-needed resources, letting your computer run normally. 

Some software is just taxing on the CPU in total. If you are using a photo or video editor with a lot going into it, your CPU may be at a high usage percentage, the fans can only keep up so well, and with extended usage, this could cause the MacBook Air to overheat.

Cause #3: Faulty Hardware

Another possibility for your MacBook Air overheating could be faulty hardware or your fans not spinning and working as they should. When you turn on your MacBook Air, the fans spin to keep it at a workable temperature, getting faster as the CPU gets hotter from more work. 

A properly functioning fan should make some noise; even if it is minuscule, a bit of noise is inevitable. If you put the laptop to your ear, you should hear the fan hard at work, keeping your CPU and all of the internals at workable and safe temperatures. 

If you hear no noise, your fans may not work as they should, especially if your device is overheating. This could indicate that your CPU fans are not working as they should. 

How to Fix

Don’t panic; the next step is simple. Call Apple, and set up a support consultation at an Apple store for them to diagnose and repair your device. If you want to go through other means, Geek Squad or a third-party repair shop can also fix this hardware.

Hardware failures are covered under Apple’s Limited Warranty, which lasts 90 days after your purchase. But if you are out of that range, you will need apple care to cover the cost; you’ll pay the repair fee, which is $99. 

If you are not covered under any warranty, this will fall under Apple’s Tier 1 service, costing you about $280, depending on your MacBook Air model.

Final Thoughts

There are multiple reasons that your MacBook Air could be overheating. Your vent could be blocked, choking the device and causing it to overheat. You may be pushing your CPU to its limit, or it could be faulty hardware, with your fans not spinning as they should.

To fix these issues, you can clean your air vent, remove your MacBook Air from insulating obstructions (like blankets), or take it to the Apple Store to repair a failing fan. 

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