The condenser fan within your HVAC system has a set temperature that is safe for it to operate at, usually written on the side of the motor name tag. Most condenser fan motors have been designed to operate at temperatures up to around 150F. When there is something wrong with the fan motor, it can overheat and cause problems with the HVAC system.
What Does a Condenser Fan Motor Do?
A condenser fan motor is part of your HVAC system that is located within the condensing unit. This unit also consists of the compressor and condenser coil. The outdoor unit works to keep the air conditioning unit cool when it is running. The condenser fan motor is what runs to turn the fan blades and blow air across the condenser coil, where it cools the refrigerant from a hot gas into a liquid. Maintaining the condenser fan motor can help to prolong the life of the AC compressor.
What Causes Condenser Fan Motor Overheating?
There are a few likely causes that are to blame when a condenser fan motor overheats. They include:
- A bad motor. If this is the cause and the motor is new, check the warranty to see if you can get a replacement at no charge.
- Incorrectly sized motor. Check the manufacturer’s recommendations for ensuring the right sized motor.
- Overamping. This can be due to either the wrong start run capacitor being installed, or from an incorrectly sized fan blade. Replacing the capacitor and/or fan blade with the correct one should solve the problem.
- Poor airflow. Not having the fan blades installed in a correct position can result in a lack of airflow and cause the motor to overheat.
- Lack of maintenance. If the motor has not been lubricated, or the unit kept clean, this can lead to overheating problems.
You can easily tell if your condenser fan motor is overheating by placing your hand on top of the unit. It may feel warm to the touch, but if it is noticeably or excessively hot, there is likely a problem that needs to be addressed. The air conditioning may not work as expected if there is a problem. You can also check the temperature of the condenser fan motor. Homeowners can do this simply with a regular thermometer, whereas HVAC professionals often use infrared temperature guns so that they can avoid having to touch the actual motor.
Preventing a Condenser Fan Motor from Overheating
In order to prolong the life of your HVAC system, it is important to stop your condenser fan motor from overheating. This can be done by making regular scheduled maintenance by a qualified HVAC professional a priority. Depending on the type of motor you have, it may require lubrication each year. Having a professional perform this task ensures that the correct type of oil is used and the work has been done properly. They can also evaluate any other concerns you might have with your HVAC system.
How to Replace a Condenser Fan Motor
Replacing a condenser fan motor is a fairly simple task that most reasonable handy homeowners can complete themselves with just a little bit of know-how in just a few simple steps:
- Gather the correct replacement parts and required tools. Ensure power to the unit is turned off.
- Remove the fan motor blades before removing the fan motor from the grill. Cut the metal rod of the motor, before putting the new motor on the grill. Replace the blade, taking care not to bend it.
- Complete the wiring, taking care the connection is correct.
- Replace all covers and test the system to ensure that it is working correctly.
It’s recommended to replace the start run capacitor at the same time that you replace the condenser fan motor. This is because running a new motor with an old start run capacitor can cause damage to a new motor. Double check the wiring to ensure it’s correct, otherwise you run the risk of overheating and burning out your new motor, creating an even bigger repair bill.