Having a malfunctioning or broken HVAC system in the middle of a Las Vegas heat wave can be very frustrating. It can make your home feel like an oven and turn every day into a dreaded ordeal. Your air-conditioner can experience a decline in performance or break down because of a wide variety of reasons. In order to identify the exact cause of the problem, you need to have at least a basic understanding of how your HVAC unit works.
It’s particularly worrisome if your HVAC system is struggling because one of its main components is faulty. If your equipment isn’t cooling properly or producing enough airflow, it may mean that one of its fan motors is problematic. There are two fan motors in a central air-conditioner: the condenser fan motor and blower motor. These two components are often mistaken for one another because they both use a fan to perform their functions. However, there are distinct differences between them. Here’s a guide for understanding the differences between a condenser fan motor and a blower motor:
What Is a Condenser Fan Motor?
A condenser fan motor is a component in the condensing unit of an HVAC system, which is located outdoors. It has a significant effect on the comfort level in your home because it plays an important role in sustaining the cooling process in your air-conditioner. It helps produce cool air by drawing air in from the outside and expelling heat into the outdoor air.
Without proper maintenance, a condenser fan motor can accumulate dirt, dust, and debris and experience increased wear and tear over time. This can lead to warmer air, poorer airflow, and a stuffier indoor environment. Besides making your home comfortable, a smooth-running condenser fan motor can help reduce your energy consumption, improve your indoor air quality, and extend the life of your equipment.
How the Condenser Fan Motor Works
In order to understand how a condenser fan motor works, you need to have a basic idea of the operation of the outdoor condensing unit. Basically, the condenser is the heat exchanger of your HVAC system. It’s responsible for cooling and condensing gaseous refrigerant to a liquid state. After turning into liquid, the refrigerant travels through the condenser coil and heads to the evaporator, where it’s transformed into a gas again and the cycle is repeated.
Usually located close to the top of the condensing unit, the condenser fan motor is protected by a guard or grille that prevents debris and objects from obstructing its fan’s movement. When hot gas moves through the condenser coil, the motor turns the fan blades and blows outdoor air over the coil, causing the gaseous refrigerant to turn into liquid. During this process, it also transfers the latent heat that comes from the refrigerant to the surrounding air.
What Is a Blower Motor?
Unlike the condenser fan motor, the blower motor is located indoors. It’s the component that blows cool air through the ducts and into different parts of your home. There are basically two kinds of blower motors: single-speed blower motors and variable-speed blower motors. A single-speed motor can only operate at one speed, while a variable-speed motor can adjust its speed to produce different levels of airflow.
A properly functioning blower motor delivers stronger airflow to improve air circulation in your home. As a result, you’ll enjoy a more even temperature and cleaner, healthier air throughout your indoor space. In addition, good airflow can help prevent dirt and dust buildup in the vents, which further improves your indoor air quality.
How the Blower Motor Works
The thermostat works with your HVAC unit to control the temperature in your home. It signals your air-conditioner to produce cool air whenever the actual temperature rises above your desired temperature. After producing cool air, your equipment has to circulate it throughout your indoor space. This is where the blower motor comes in. The blower motor spins its fan to blow the cool air through the ducts and vents and distributes it to different parts of your home. It ensures that the temperature in your home is the same as the temperature setting on the thermostat. It’s a powerful device that can move a large amount of air.
A single-speed blower motor can only operate at one speed, meaning that it either runs at full capacity or not at all. This makes it less energy efficient than a variable-speed blower motor, which can blow at lower or higher speeds.
Signs You Have a Bad Condenser Fan Motor or Blower Motor
Now that you understand the difference between a condenser fan motor and a blower motor, you may want to know whether these components in your HVAC system are in good working condition. It’s important to be able to recognize signs of a faulty condenser fan motor or blower motor because they both serve very important functions to keep your air conditioner working effectively and efficiently. If any of them malfunction, you can expect the comfort level in your home to decline significantly. Also, detecting and fixing problems early can help you avoid expensive repairs in the future. Look out for these signs of a bad condenser fan motor or blower motor.
Bad Condenser Fan Motor
Since the condenser fan is visible from the top of the outdoor condenser unit, you can easily tell if it’s working. However, a problematic condenser fan motor may also show other symptoms that can’t be visually detected. You should call an HVAC company if you notice the following signs:
Fan is Moving Slowly or Stationary
If the fan in your outdoor condenser is moving slowly or not moving at all, it can be because of a variety of problems. First, you may have a bad capacitor. A capacitor stores power and delivers it to your condenser motor fan. It can stop working properly for a number of reasons and cause the fan to stop spinning or spin slowly. Another possible culprit is a loose or damaged fan belt, which can result from normal wear and tear. A sluggish or stationary fan can also be caused by motor issues such as bad wiring or overheating. A burnt-out motor is probably the worst problem as it may necessitate installing a new motor or air-conditioner.
You should also be alarmed if your outdoor condenser unit is emitting a burning smell. If the smell is an electrical burning smell, it can mean that the condenser fan motor or fan belt is overheating and the condenser unit is likely to break down soon. If you notice a plastic burning smell, it may be because a foreign plastic object is burning from the heat produced by the condenser fan motor. When either of these happens, you should shut down your HVAC system immediately and contact an HVAC company.
Under normal circumstances, your condenser fan motor will make some noise when it’s running, which is nothing to worry about. However, it may sometimes make a certain kind of noise that’s out of the ordinary, such as a buzzing or rattling noise. A buzzing noise may indicate that there’s debris obstructing the fan or the motor. If you hear a rattling sound, it may be because a sizable object or debris is caught in the unit or a certain component is loose, misaligned, or damaged.
In either case, it’s best to call in a professional to see what’s wrong with your condenser or condenser fan motor. While a task like removing debris may seem easy, you shouldn’t try to do it yourself unless you have undergone professional training. If you make a mistake, you may cause damage to your system, incur substantial repair costs, or injure yourself.
The condenser fan motor plays an important role in preventing the condensing unit from overheating. If your condenser is malfunctioning or overheating, it may have something to do with the fan motor. However, many other factors can cause your condenser to fail. An HVAC technician can help you identify and fix the problem.
Bad Blower Motor
Since the blower motor and condenser fan motor are both air-blowing devices, they operate in the same manner and have many similar components. As such, they show certain similar symptoms when they’re experiencing problems. The following are some signs suggesting your blower motor needs professional attention:
Weak airflow is one of the most common symptoms of a bad blower motor. If you notice that the airflow coming from the vents is weak, it can mean that your blower motor has a bad connection, faulty relay, or an operational problem. However, weak airflow can also result from other issues that aren’t related to the blower motor, such as a clogged filter and leaky ducts. Working with an HVAC company is the best way to restore proper airflow.
Similar to the condenser fan motor, a problematic blower motor may also emit strange sounds. A buzzing noise may suggest that the blower motor is being powered but the fan isn’t working. This may be because of a bad relay switch, capacitor, or motor shaft. If you hear a squealing sound, it may mean that the motor has a damaged belt or bearing problem. Finally, a rattling or clanking noise suggests that a certain component is coming loose, disconnected, or broken.
Intermittent Shutting Down
If you find that your HVAC system is working but shutting down every intermittently, there’s a likelihood that your blower motor is overheating. This can also result from a bad relay or a problem with the motor itself. Replacing a relay costs less than repairing or replacing the motor.
As with the condenser fan motor, a blower motor that gives off an electrical burning smell may be overheated. This can also mean that the safety feature on the component is faulty because it’ll automatically power down the motor if it detects overheating.
Keeping your condenser fan motor and blower motor in good condition can be beneficial in many ways, including greater home comfort, lower energy costs, and better air quality. If you’re looking for a reliable HVAC service provider in Las Vegas, consider contacting The Cooling Company. We have a team of highly trained technicians who can perform a thorough inspection of your HVAC system, service or repair any problematic component and provide valuable advice on how to keep your air-conditioner in tiptop condition. Contact us today or call (702) 790-8277 to find out about our top-quality HVAC services.