The solution is actually easier than you might think, but it requires a bit of skill in disassembling the time machine extreme, a couple of simple tools (something to pry the device base open, a #8 torx bit screwdriver that is at least 6" long, and a bottle of lubricant such as bicycle chain lubricant or something similar).
Use a disassembly guide to get the device torn down. Once you get the internals out, you'll find the fan on one side of the device. It is covered, but you can open up the cover by popping the little clips on the sides of the fan. Once you've exposed the blades of the fan, give it a little spin. You'll notice it doesn't keep spinning. The bearing is jammed. Now here's the trick - grab the fan from the sides, and lift it STRAIGHT UP. It'll slight right off. Now put a drop of oil in the hole the fan blade shaft goes into, and shove the fan into the hole a few times to lubricate it. Give it a spin. It'll spin for awhile. You fixed it! Reassemble and there will be no more overheating!
A few quick additions: When I mention lifting the fan "straight up" I mean STRAIGHT UP from the base. When you open the fan case, you'll see the top of the fan and the blades around the sides. Grip on the sides and lift it straight up from the plastic base it's attached from (don't try to pry it or shove it to the sides). You'll have a tiny bit of resistance (because the shaft is jammed and because there's a bit of magnetism holding the fan in place). This is almost universally the reason this overheating error occurs - the fan isn't spinning or is barely spinning. One tiny drop of oil solves the entire problem. It only takes a LITTLE oil, so be sparing in how you do it (you might even want to lube the shaft instead of the hole). The hardest part of the whole job is disassembling the device, but all-in-all this is a 15 minute procedure and will fix the problem.
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I'm keen to understand if you got this resolved. Mine is doing the same thing however my TC hard drive seems to have failed as I can't back up to it or read from it. The only error I have is that it may be overheating. Like yours, it feels warm but no warmer that I'd expect. I can't seem to clear the error at all. I decided to test it by putting it in a cool place for an afternoon thus ensuring that it was not warm before plugging it back in. Same error. Does this mean the drive has failed/jammed and is resulting in heat build up? I'd have thought there would have been a discreet error message for that.
da Niall Carney
I ended up pulling the HD out and selling the Time Capsule itself for cheap. The HD still worked fine and I've been using it with an external USB dock for Time Machine backups. Cleaning the Time Capsule didn't work. I even left the case off and it ran fine for a few hours but started complaining about overheating again. Apparently it's a common problem. Sorry I couldn't find a better solution, and sorry that your HD appears to be fried.
da Matthew Bass
Could someone post where I could find disassembly instructions/guide? Pretty sure the fan on my Time Capsule is stuck. Thanks.
The solution (for me) was to disassemble and lubricate the central spindle of the fan - as mentioned above. Works like a charm. But... it is NOT easy getting to the fan and the tiny clips that hold the fan housing together break VERY easily. With even one of them broken the fan housing leaks air down the seam making it less efficient and will cause the same over-heating problem all over again. IF you do break one, like I did, just use a tiny drop of super-glue, as small as you can get on the tip of a sewing needle and dab it where the broken clip is (was). You don't want to seal it for all time. If your micro-drop of super glue is small enough you should be able to crack it open again with an exacto-knive if you ever need to lube the fan again. But I'm not sure why you'd still be using this lousy paper-weight at that point. But it really does work. Blinking orange light is finally off (or broken).
da Jesse Morano
AirPort Extreme A1521 Teardown here's how to get to the fan. Go slow.
da Jesse Morano
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