September 18, 2019

Having a malfunctioning or broken HVAC system in the middle of a Las Vegas heat wave can be very frustrating. Especially when the issue is with your blower fan. Your home feels like an oven. And it turns 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. So you need to identify the exact cause of the problem. It helps to have at least a basic understanding of how your HVAC unit works.

Even more, it’s particularly worrisome if your HVAC system is struggling. Especially if one of its main components is faulty. If your equipment isn’t cooling properly or producing enough airflow, that’s a problem. 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. And that’s 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. As such, 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. Plus, it will experience increased wear and tear over time. And this can lead to warmer air, poorer airflow, and a stuffier indoor environment. A smooth-running condenser fan motor doesn’t only make your home comfortable. It can also help reduce your energy consumption. Furthermore, it improves your indoor air quality, and extends the life of your equipment.

How the Condenser Fan Motor Works

Let’s look at how a condenser fan motor works. For this, you need a basic idea of the operation of the outdoor condensing unit.

Basically, the condenser is the heat exchanger of your HVAC system. It cools and condenses gaseous refrigerant to a liquid state. After turning into liquid, the refrigerant travels through the condenser coil and heads to the evaporator. In the evaporator, it’s transformed into a gas again and the cycle is repeated.

The condenser fan motor is usually located close to the top of the condensing unit. It 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. This causes 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. So it’s essentially your air mover.

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 or high velocity 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. And these things will 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. In effect distributing 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. Your blower motor is a powerful device that can move a large amount of air.

A single-speed blower motor can only operate at one speed. So that means it either runs at full capacity or not at all. And as such, it is 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

You now understand the difference between a condenser fan motor and a blower motor. So 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. 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

The condenser fan is visible from the top of the outdoor condenser unit. So 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

Is the fan in your outdoor condenser is moving slowly or not moving at all? It can be due to a variety of problems. First, you may have a bad capacitor. A capacitor stores power and delivers it to your condenser motor fan. And it can stop working properly for a number of reasons. When it does stop working, it causes the fan to stop spinning or spin slowly.

Another possible culprit is a loose or damaged fan belt. This 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. Having a burnt-out motor is probably the worst problem. You can end up having to install a new motor or air-conditioner.

Burning Smell

You should also be alarmed if your outdoor condenser unit is emitting a burning smell. If it’s an electrical burning smell, make note of this. It can mean that the condenser fan motor or fan belt is overheating. In this case, the condenser unit is likely to break down soon.

If you notice a plastic burning smell, something could be burning. The condenser fan motor gets hot. So anything stuck there could start to burn. When either of these happens, shut down your HVAC system immediately and contact an HVAC company.

Unusual Sounds

Under normal circumstances, your condenser fan motor will make some noise when it’s running. And this 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 point to debris obstructing the fan or the motor. If you hear a rattling sound, something could be caught in the unit. Or it could be that a certain component is loose, misaligned, or damaged. Either way, it’s best to call in a professional to see what’s wrong.

Removing debris may seem easy. But you shouldn’t try to do it yourself. Well, not unless you have undergone professional training. If you make a mistake, you could damage your system. You could even incur substantial repair costs or injure yourself.

Condenser Failure

The condenser fan motor plays an important role in preventing the condensing unit from overheating. If it malfunctions, 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

The blower motor and condenser fan motor are both air-blowing devices. So 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

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, your blower motor might have a bad connection. But this could also be a faulty relay or an operational problem. However, weak airflow can also result from other issues that aren’t related to the blower fan. For example, it could be a clogged filter or leaky ducts. Working with an HVAC company is the best way to restore proper airflow.

Unusual Sounds

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, the motor could have 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 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.

Burning Smell

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. 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. Enjoy 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. Our experts can service or repair any problematic component. And we will provide valuable advice on how to keep your air-conditioner in tiptop condition. Contact us today or call (702) 567-0707 to find out about our top-quality HVAC services.

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