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How to Tell If Your Central AC Condenser Fan Motor Is Bad  

Air conditioning is so important nowadays that when it breaks down, sure discomfort awaits everyone at home. The AC fan is an important part of the whole air conditioning system, and when it breaks down, the compressor, which is the heart of the cooling system, could soon eventually break down. In essence, what it does is circulate cold air throughout the house, when the AC fails to cool the home, this is one of the mechanisms that the AC technician would check.

Unfortunately, it is not too easy to spot a worn-out AC fan motor, especially since it is in the central AC component positioned outside the house. The fan motor is in the condenser or outdoor unit, and to confirm if it is working properly a homeowner can carry out an easy test or inspection.

Signs of a worn-out or failing AC Condenser Fan Motor

Several signs point to a malfunctioning or worn-out AC fan motor. Homeowners may check the outdoor unit of their AC system, particularly through its vents, and see if any of these holds:

  • The condenser unit is producing a rattling noise whenever the fan is turned on
  • The fan is not working even though the Central AC is turned on
  • The fan rotates slowly
  • The fan does not stop even if it is turned off from the controls, and the air conditioner is turned off

If any of the symptoms above seems happening, then it is best to confirm whether the AC is indeed failing. Confirmation is important since it is also possible that the capacitor is the problem. The capacitor provides power to the fan, and if it is worn out then the fan will not work too. 

To check if the capacitor is working, the homeowner can do the following:

  1. Turn off the air conditioning unit from the unit and from the breaker level to ensure that the whole system is unenergized, and to avoid electrocution.
  2. Look for the capacitor which is a cylindrical-like mechanism that has cables connected to it much like a battery.
  3. Observe whether the capacitor’s top part is flat or swollen. If it is flat, then it is working perfectly, if it is swollen then there is an issue with the capacitor.
  4. If the capacitor is working fine, then the AC fan motor is indeed failing or worn out. Get in touch with a San Diego air conditioning expert so that the issue is addressed immediately. Foregoing AC fan repairs can affect the operation of the air conditioner’s compressor and may cause it to fail. If this does happen, the homeowner is in for really expensive and complicated repairs.

How to Check if the Central Air Conditioning Condenser Fan Motor is failing or in bad condition

There are several repercussions tied to the failure of an AC Fan Motor. One of the main consequences of having this part worn-out is not having cold air blown into the vents. When this happens the house will be warm, but the evaporator coils will be frozen.

How to check if the Fan Motor for AC is broken

Get in touch with a San Diego air conditioning expert so that the issue is addressed immediately. Foregoing AC fan repairs can affect the operation of the air conditioner’s compressor and may cause it to fail. If this does happen, the homeowner is in for really expensive and complicated repairs. Here is how to test if the fan motor of a home air conditioning system is broken:

Check The Power For The Motor

Look at the thermostat and ensure that it is turned on. One of the first things to check when the AC is not working is the thermostat. Sometimes it is accidentally turned off or is set the wrong way.

Check The Electrical Breakers For AC

Go to the breaker panel and check if the AC breaker is in the power-on position. Sometimes, the breakers trip, and no one thought of resetting it, hence the AC is not working.

Check The Outside Condenser Unit

Check the condenser unit. Go to the outdoor unit and check whether the system is working. It is best to look from the top of the unit. Now, look through the vents and see if the fan is moving. If it is, then the fan motor is okay, but if it is not, then there is likely an issue with it.

Look for obstructions for the movement of the Fan Blades

Ensure that there are no obstructions. If the fan motor is not working, turn off the air conditioner inside the house and go back to the condenser unit. Try to spot if there is anything that is blocking the fan blades. If there is any, try to remove it using a sharp object like a small stick or screwdriver. If there is none, try to insert the tool once again to check if there is anything that impedes the rotating motion of the fan. Sometimes, twigs or leaves get into the way of the fan.

Try kickstarting the Fan motor with a Long stick (DO NOT PUT HANDS INSIDE BLADES)

Now that nothing is out of the way of the fan, try turning on the air conditioning unit once again. Try jumpstarting the movement of the fan by nudging the blades to move with a long stick. Do not place any hands or body parts inside the fan blades it can be very dangerous. If it moves after a nudge, then most likely the problem is with the capacitor. The capacitor is the AC mechanism that supplies power to the AC fan motor. If it is worn out, then it will fail to energize the fan motor. If, however, the fan still does not work, then there must be an issue with it.

If the AC Capacitor is the issue, it is best to test it too. Purchase an AC Capacitor Tester from hardware, and follow the instructions therein. 

How to test the Outside AC Fan Motor

The test to assess an AC fan motor is called a continuity test. There are several guides on how to do this, but below is a simple, and easy-to-follow procedure:

  1. Make sure that the air conditioning unit is turned on and is in cool mode and is in the lowest or coolest setting possible.
  2. Check all the sources of power. Take a look at whether the AC is indeed turned on, and that the breaker for the AC system has not tripped.  Check as well for proper voltage. From the transformer, take a look at whether there is a fuse in the circuit for the low voltage settings.    
  3. Check the AC Fan motor’s windings. The AC windings must be checked for a short or an open. To do this, the homeowner should measure the ohms of the motor. Usually, for a 120-volt, there are about four colored wirings which normally are black, red, blue, and yellow.  Then there is a black wire, a white wire, and then about two brown wirings. To check for the resistance, measure each of the wires against the white wires.
  4. Look at the resistance reading. If the reading is infinite then it means that there is an open motor winding. If the reading on the other hand is zero, then there might be a tripping or short circuit somewhere. Either of the condition though calls for a fan motor replacement.

If both the power supply and the windings are in good working condition, the next item to check is the capacitor. The capacitor supplies power to the AC Fan motor, and so if it is worn out then it could not power the fan motor, making it appear that it is malfunctioning.

 To test the capacitor, make sure that it has no power or charge. Check the microfarad reading using a capacitor tester that can be purchased from hardware. A normal reading is within 10 percent of the capacitor’s rated capacitance. If this is not so, then the homeowner should replace the AC capacitor.  

AC Condenser Fan Motor Maintenance

The best way to keep the AC fan Motor from failing is to keep it well-maintained in the first place. While fan motors will eventually get worn out from day-to-day use, their lifespan, and that of the AC system’s will get prolonged if there is adequate routine maintenance on the air conditioner.

AC Fan motors tend to get worn out pretty fast when dirt builds up on them and strains them from working.  The strain that it has gets passed on to other parts of the central AC systems too, so it is best to keep the AC professionally tuned up regularly.

AC Repair Service

Avoid the hassle of having to inspect, check and replace your air conditioner’s fan motors. Allow us at Reliable Standard Heating and Air to diagnose and troubleshoot your AC issues for you. We will be more than happy to repair or replace your fan motor and keep your AC well-maintained. Call us up on our hotline, or get in touch with us through our easy-to-use online scheduling platform. 

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