Overheating Router: What it Means and How to Prevent It

Your internet router is the one device that acts as a gatekeeper for all the data going in and out of your home. Mis-configured firmware, too many connected devices, a dusty environment, direct sunlight, or a vent obstruction can lead to your router overheating, which can then lead to hardware damage and performance problems.

It is normal for electronic devices to feel warm to the touch while they are powered on and functioning, but sometimes prolonged heat exposure (sunlight) or an overworked device can overheat. And heat and electronics do not play well together.

Symptoms of an Overheating Router

Excess heat will reduce the life of the device. Dirty electricity or power surges can also damage your router. Damaged hardware can slow down your Internet connection and cause all sorts of unexpected errors.

  • Dropped connections, slower network speeds, unreliability;
  • As mentioned, your Internet connection may not be as fast and reliable as it once was; modern processors are set to slow down when hot, including the one in your router.
  • Excess heat can cause router hardware malfunctions such as memory or CPU errors.

Why Your Router Overheats and What to Do About It

If your router was not designed well or is working too hard due to routing lots of data to too many connected devices, the router may overheat.

  • Also, make sure it is sitting somewhere with good airflow, out of direct sunlight.
  • And keep it clean! Use a can of compressed air if you must to blow out any dust and debris plugging up the vents.
  • If your router has a USB port and you cannot relocate the router into a spot with better airflow, consider getting a USB-powered fan to cool down the router.

Install a Heat Sink in Your Router

This requires taking the router cover off and installing a heat sink
  • If your router is still overheating, consider a DIY heat sink project to cool your router’s CPU; this will keep the CPU operating at a lower temperature so that it performs at its maximum.

Does Your Router Overheat and Your Internet Connection Slow Down?

Keep in mind that WiFi routers do not normally slow down your network unless they are defective in some way.

A WiFi router that has memory leaks should be returned; rebooting weekly only goes so far in preventing overheating issues, interference problems, and connection drops.

  • A properly designed router should run indefinitely without slowing down because it performs a very specific task that does not change.
  • Firmware Update: If the router manufacturer added a feature that slowed you down then demand that they fix their mistake and turn off that feature.

The Internet connection can change over time due to interference or problems at the ISP-level. These changes are not the fault of the router. Sometimes a simple reboot fixes everything: turn the router off, wait two minutes, then turn the router back on.

  • Turning off your WiFi router (if it is a modem and router combo) for 2 full minutes will cause an error condition at the ISP, which will in turn trigger a full connection reset, perhaps fixing whatever problem was plaguing your slow Internet connection.
  • Wait 5 minutes after you turn your WiFi back on before using the internet. During this time, your connection will be fully reset — the hardware at the ISP will be testing and analyzing your connection to see which speed will function the most reliably for you.

Prevent Overheating

  • Check your internet speed at fast.com or speedtest.net to see if your connection to your ISP is what it is supposed to be.
  • If you know your baseline speed and notice that your connection has slowed, call your ISP and have them repair the connection. Or, unplug the router for 2 minutes, as in the previous section.
  • You might also see a slow-down due to interference from too many people using WiFi on the same channel in your neighborhood. This is not the fault of the WiFi router, it is simply too many people in too small an area are crowding one band. Switch your WiFi channel or go wired.

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