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Faulty AC Fan Motor? How to Get Your AC Working Again

If your AC isn't blowing cool air or if the airflow is weak, there might be a problem with the fan motor. A central air conditioning system usually has two fans. One controls the blower in the air handler and the other controls the fan in the condenser. Here's how to tell if one of these fans is malfunctioning and how an air conditioning repair technician might deal with a bad motor.

Signs of a Bad AC Fan Motor

The fan in the air handler is shaped like a cage rather than having large blades. This fan is what blows air through the ducts, so if it isn't working properly, there may be reduced airflow or no airflow when you turn on the air conditioner.

The condenser fan has large blades you can see spinning through the top of the condenser outside. The purpose of this fan is to cool refrigerant, so if the motor isn't running the fan, then the air that blows from your ducts will be warmer than usual. You might hear unusual noises coming from the air handler or condenser when a motor is going bad, but you may not know for sure the problem is the motor until the repair technician opens up the AC and inspects the parts.

Reasons an AC Fan Motor Goes Bad

Both motors in your AC should last a long time, but they can wear down due to age. The fans run every time your AC runs, so they get a lot of use. The fan in the air handler also runs when you run your HVAC in fan or furnace mode, so it gets the most use. A motor can go bad when it's stressed, and a major cause of stress is a dirty system. If the motor has to struggle to spin a fan that's clogged with dust, the motor may overheat and burn out. A motor can also be stressed when other parts, such as the capacitor, fail and put extra strain on the motor.

Ways to Repair an AC Motor Problem

The air conditioning repair service checks the fan system as a whole to determine the cause of motor failure. It may be necessary to clean the fans before repairing or replacing the motor so the problem doesn't happen again. The problem could be a bad capacitor rather than the motor, so the repair technician has to pinpoint the problem precisely since a capacitor is much cheaper to replace than a new motor. When the motor is the problem, the technician decides on the parts to replace. If the condenser motor needs to be replaced, the technician might also replace the capacitor at the same time even if the old capacitor is still working. If the air handler motor needs to be replaced, the blower might be replaced too.

Replacing an AC motor involves disconnecting wires and pulling parts out of the condenser or air handler, so it's probably not a job you want to do yourself. Learn more by contacting companies like Edelman Inc.