evga fan broken?

Sorry for putting a whole story here but don't know what details are important.

I might have broken my evga 7600gt fan but aren't sure; I def don't want a new card and ttytt would rather not have to buy a vga fan. I realize a comparable card is ~$50 and that I can get a vga fan for ~$25 but this card otherwise works plenty fine for what I need.

It's been running w/0 noise for ~14 months. Every couple months I use my little 2gal compressor to blow dust out of fans and the insides and whatnot but never the video card fan. The compressor is set around 30-50psi so blows pretty stout but nothing major I don't think.

Because there was never a lot of dust build up and because the video fan faces down and is a little awkward to get it I've never blown the dirt out of it. Until a few days ago when some pretty big piles of dust came out of it.

With the card in the machine I maneuvered the blow gun tip as best I could to blow at the fan and through the fins - like I said a TON of dirt blew out of there. I ran the computer aftwards and everything was fine.

The next morning I turned it on the vga fan made a racket like it never made before - a loud buzzing. I figured I spun the fan too fast and damaged it or forced some dirt into it or something so took it out of the case and took the heatsink/fan off the card.

I blew more air from many directions hoping to free up dust that might be interfering with the spinning fan; a couple more small clumps of dirt came out and thought that might've been the problem. Cleaned the old thermal paste off, put some fresh paste on and put it back together.

But it still makes this fairly loud buzzing for ~2 minutes when the computer is first turned on. The buzzing gets fainter and fainter until finally after a couple minutes the buzzing noise seems to completely disappear; as long as the computer is running it never again makes a peep. Based on the pitch of the buzzing sound, it sounds to me like initially the fan runs at real high RPMs then lowers and lowers until I guess it's at its normal speed and simultaneously the fan gets quieter and quieter until the buzzing completely goes away. Temps are all fine and normal throughout the day whether under load or not.

The fan still blows air; card still runs at the same temps before this all started; the evga tool shows the fan changing RPMs depending if I'm playing a game or not so other than this initial loud buzzing it seems perfectly normal.

What I'm wondering though is three things 1) if I did break it, is there any way I can fix it? Looks sort of difficult getting the heatsink separated from the plastic fan unit; 2) whether I did or didn't cause this, since the fan runs fine after the first couple minutes, is this thing liable to fail w/o warning or something? And 3) do these fans initially run at really high speed then come down to a 'working' speed so my fan will be fine so long as it never has to run that high for a sustained period of time?

Incidentally it's also out of warranty since I never registered so AFAIK I got one year and that was up a couple months ago.
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  1. I had an old card that did that. It irritated me until I replaced the cooler. Granted it was a geforce 5700 and I could get a cheapo cooler for $10. But if you can tolerate the noise I would just run it until you want to replace it. It's not worth your effort. Maybe you can find a buddy that has a compatible cooler. You can get a 8800Gs that blows it outta the water for $100. Why spend the money on a cooler?
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