Your air conditioning system has three different motors, each of which could fail and potentially need to be replaced. If any of these motors burn out or begin to fail, it can create a variety of different issues with your AC system. In some cases, it will prevent your system from turning on entirely. Replacing any of the motors is something you will need to have done by a certified HVAC technician. If not, you are likely to cause even more damage and face a much larger repair bill than you would have if you had turned to a professional in the first place. Let’s now take a look at the ways that you can tell if your AC motors are bad and how a technician replaces each one.
AC Blower Fan Motor
Inside the air handler in your house is the fan blower that circulates air throughout the building. If this motor fails, neither your air conditioning nor your heating will work until the motor is replaced. This issue is easy to spot as the fan won’t turn on and thus no air will be coming out of your vents.
If you hear a loud squealing noise when the fan is running, this also indicates that it needs to be replaced. This issue is caused by the ball bearings that spin the fan becoming worn out and starting to grind. If your airflow is suddenly much lower than usual, this can also indicate that the fan motor is beginning to fail.
To replace a blower fan motor, the AC technician will first shut off the power to your HVAC system. Next, they will check that all of the wire connections are tight and that the capacitor is working properly as these can also cause the fan to not run. If these check out normally, the technician will then move on to replacing the motor.
The first step is to disconnect the wires that run from the fan to the control board. Next, the technician will remove the bolts or nuts that hold the blower assembly in place. This allows them to slide the entire blower assembly out of the air handler.
Once the assembly has been removed, they will then remove the set screw that attaches the fan wheel to the motor and the bolts that secure the motor to the housing. The old motor can then be removed and the new one put in its place. The motor is then reattached to the fan, and the entire assembly is then reinstalled and rewired to the control board.
AC Condenser Fan Motor
There is also another fan motor located in the AC condenser unit outside of your house. This motor works to help disperse the heat that the system absorbed from inside your house. When this motor first starts to fail, you will usually hear loud squealing or rattling noises coming from the condenser every time it runs. A failing motor can also cause the fan blades to spin much slower than normal, and this is something you will have to go outside and visually check for.
Another sign that the fan motor is failing is if the fan continues to run after the condenser has shut off. If the fan blades won’t spin at all, this can indicate that the motor is bad, the capacitor has failed, or the blades are obstructed. You can easily check to see if the blades are obstructed on your own, but if not, then you will need to have a technician inspect the motor and other components.
If the motor is bad, replacing it is basically the same as replacing the indoor blower fan motor. First, the top cover is taken off of the unit so that the technician can access the fan. The fan blades are usually connected to the top grate, which means taking off this grate will also remove the fans. A technician will then disconnect the wiring from the motor, remove it from the unit, and then rewire the new motor. The fan blades and cover are then reattached, and the system is tested.
AC Compressor Motor
There is also another motor inside the outdoor condenser unit that powers the compressor. If this motor fails, the condenser won’t turn on at all. A faulty or worn-out compressor motor can also cause short cycling, which is when the unit turns on and then almost instantly shuts off again.
A failing compressor motor can also drastically reduce the effectiveness of your AC system, which means it will run constantly without having much of an effect on your home’s temperature. This can also result from various other AC problems, which is why you will need to have your system inspected by a certified technician to determine if the issue is caused by a bad compressor motor or something else.
Unfortunately, replacing the compressor motor is no easy task. Before the motor can be replaced, a technician will first need to drain and capture all of the refrigerant inside the system. They will then need to remove the entire fan assembly and motor in order to access the compressor motor. After the new motor is installed and the condenser is reassembled, the refrigerant will then need to be recharged.
The entire process will take quite a few hours and possibly up to a full day. A new compressor motor is also extremely costly. The parts alone will typically set you back anywhere from $500 to $2,000 or more, plus at least a few hundred dollars more for labor. This is why replacing the compressor motor is quite rare as it will often cost about the same price as replacing the entire AC condenser unit.
In this situation, you are always best replacing the entire unit since the new unit will likely be far more energy efficient and provide more effective cooling. This is especially true if your AC condenser is more than 10 years old.
In truth, the only time that it really makes sense to replace the compressor motor is if your AC unit is still under warranty and still in good condition. Most AC units come with a 10-year parts warranty. If your unit is still under warranty, you will only need to pay the labor costs and not for any of the new parts. In this case, replacing the motor will obviously be cheaper than replacing the entire unit.
It is important to note that all HVAC warranties stipulate that all repairs and maintenance must be performed by a certified technician. If you do any work yourself or hire someone who is not certified, your warranty will be automatically voided and you will have to cover all costs out of your own pocket. This is why you should always hire a certified HVAC contractor even for seemingly minor repairs.
Most warranties also stipulate that you need to have the unit professionally maintained once a year. Failure to do so will also void the warranty. This is yet another reason why scheduling an annual AC maintenance service is so important. Not only will it ensure that your warranty is still valid, but it can also help avoid many of the issues that could cause any of the system’s motors to fail in the first place.
Professional AC Repair, Maintenance, and Installation
If you suspect that any of your AC system’s motors are bad, the certified technicians at Jerry Kelly Heating & Air Conditioning are here to help. We work on all AC makes and models, and we can inspect your entire cooling system to determine if any of the motors need to be replaced or the system needs any other repairs.
Our technicians can also handle all of your yearly AC and heating maintenance to help reduce your energy costs and improve the effectiveness of your HVAC system. We also specialize in replacing and installing new central AC units, furnaces, heat pumps, mini-splits, and other HVAC units for customers in St. Peters and the surrounding areas. To schedule an AC inspection or any other HVAC service, give us a call today.