If your air conditioning system is failing to keep your home cool or won’t turn on at all, it could be that you’re dealing with a faulty or burnt-out motor in either the indoor air handler or outdoor AC condenser unit. When this happens, you will need to hire a qualified HVAC technician to replace the motor. If not, there is a good chance that you will end up worsening the problem and facing an even higher repair bill should you attempt to perform the work yourself. We’ll now look at how a technician replaces an AC motor, how to tell if you need a motor replaced, and the additional reasons why you should never attempt it yourself.
Steps Involved in AC Motor Replacement
Your air conditioning system uses three separate motors—the compressor motor, condenser fan motor, and blower fan motor. The steps involved in replacing the motor are slightly different for each one.
Replacing the motor that powers the blower fan or the condenser fan is a fairly similar process. The first step is turning the power to your HVAC system off. When installing a new blower fan motor, the wiring that runs from the control board to the fan motor will need to be disconnected. From there, the technician will then undo the bolts that secure the fan assembly inside the air handler. After sliding the fan assembly out, the technician will then take it apart and remove the old motor. The new motor is then mounted in the housing, and the fan assembly is put back together and slid back into the air handler. Finally, the technician will rewire the new motor to the control board.
When installing a new condenser fan motor, the technician will start by taking the condenser unit’s cover off. This will also remove the fan blades as they are mounted onto the cover and rest on top of the motor. Taking off the cover and fan blades allows the technicians to gain access to the wiring. After disconnecting the wires from the motor, the technician will pull it out and then put the new motor in its place and reconnect the wiring.
Replacing the compressor motor is much more complicated and something that is rarely done. While it is possible, the high cost means that it typically makes more sense to instead install a brand new condenser. This is because the replacement motor and labor cost is often nearly the same as simply replacing the entire unit with a new one.
The one exception is when the unit is still under warranty since you will then only be liable for the labor charges and not for the cost of the new replacement motor. However, your warranty will still only cover the costs if the motor failed due to wear and tear and not if it resulted from negligence or damage caused by some other issue.
When replacing a compressor motor, the technician will have to drain the refrigerant out of the system first since the compressor is directly connected to the refrigerant lines. This is done using special equipment that is connected to the high- and low-pressure refrigerant ports. Before draining the refrigerant, the technician will have to remove the fan and fan motor so that they can access the refrigerant ports and compressor.
Once the system is drained, the technician will then rewire the new motor in place of the old one. The technician then recharges the system with refrigerant, reassembles the condenser, and finally inspects and tests everything to ensure proper functioning.
Reasons You Should Always Hire a Professional HVAC Technician
Replacing an AC motor on your own can be hazardous since you will need to disconnect and reconnect the electrical wiring. If you’re not extremely careful, you could get a powerful shock from the motor’s capacitor as it will still contain a strong electrical current even once the power is turned off. Rewiring the new motor improperly also creates the risk of short-circuiting and fire hazards.
You should also take your warranty into consideration if your unit is less than 10 years old and still covered. All HVAC warranties state in their terms that any work has to be done by a licensed, certified technician. Doing any repairs or maintenance work on your own outside of changing your air filter will automatically void your warranty. This means that not only will the replacement motor cost not be covered, but you’ll also be on the hook for any future repairs.
How to Tell When an AC Motor Needs to Be Replaced?
There are various signs that can indicate when a motor is beginning to wear out or has failed altogether. However, many of these potential signs can also result from a variety of other AC issues, such as a refrigerant leak, damaged or leaky ductwork, or even simply because the air filter, evaporator coil, or condenser coil is dirty. This is another important reason to always turn to a professional, as there is simply no way for you to know exactly why your AC system isn’t working correctly.
Loud squealing, grinding, or rattling noises are usually the most obvious sign that the condenser fan or blower fan motor is starting to wear out. This usually indicates that the motor’s bearings are worn out, which prevents the motor from spinning smoothly. Another sign is if the fan won’t turn on or it continues to spin when the other components turn off.
A worn-out blower fan motor will also not circulate the same air volume as normal. This means that there will be noticeably less air blowing from your vents, and you will also typically be able to hear that the fan doesn’t produce as much noise as usual. This problem also often leads to the evaporator coil routinely freezing as the fan can’t circulate enough hot air over the coil to prevent it from icing up.
If the compressor motor is completely worn out, your AC won’t run at all, no matter how hot it gets inside. That being said, this issue is more commonly caused by electrical problems or an issue with your thermostat.
When the compressor motor begins to fail, you will often hear loud clicking noises coming from the outdoor unit just as it attempts to turn on. Another common problem is short cycling, where the unit will turn on and then off rapidly without completing a cooling cycle. Both of these issues can also occur if the AC capacitor is faulty and needs to be replaced, and this is always the first thing that a technician will check. If it is only the capacitor that is bad, then you’re in luck, as replacing this is a fairly quick and easy task.
Trusted AC Repair Experts
If your AC can’t keep your home cool or you notice the signs of any issue, you can trust the team at Quality Air Of America to get the problem taken care of. Our highly skilled technicians can diagnose any AC issues and quickly determine how best to fix them. We service all AC makes and models for residents throughout the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale Metro area, and we’re available 24/7 for any emergency repairs. If you need your AC inspected or any other type of HVAC service, such as indoor air quality solutions, contact the experts at Quality Air Of America today.