The fan is so mild that it's hard for me to tell when it's on.... it almost seems to be on (mildly so) all the time. Can you tell I know very little about laptop hardware?
Anyway, the grinding has stopped for now (after I lightly tapped the fan area while it was grinding), but now there is a very, very mild but constant whirring. Oh boy.
I will look into getting an air compressor and see how that goes, then report back. Could it really be clogged with dust after only one month? Thanks for your help.