Replace Your condenser Fan Motor
The condenser fan motor keeps an air conditioner’s compressor from becoming overheated. It cools the superheated refrigerant that moved through condensing coils. If you are thinking about replacing a damaged AC fan motor, remember that the motor you have chosen to replace it must feature the very same horsepower rating and speed. Not making sure of this can cause you a great deal of trouble. You might also consider buying a universal replacement motor – these feature multiple settings for speed. Some repairmen also replace the air conditioner fan’s capacitor at the same time that they switch out the motor. If you wish to increase the life of your AC condenser fan motor, it is important to do annual maintenance. Even just a bit of oil on the fan’s motor can make a great difference in this. 1. Before doing any kind of maintenance work on your air conditioner, it is essential that you cut off the electricity to its condensing unit. You can do this either at the disconnect box that should be located near the unit or via the circuit breaker box. The disconnect box should be mounted on the house somewhere near the unit, and will use a switch that looks something like a circuit breaker or a removable bus-bar. If you need to cut off the electricity with the circuit breaker, look for a label that reads ‘heat pump’ or ‘air conditioner’ to look for the correct switch in the box. 2. Either from its exit from the house or from the disconnect box, follow the wire’s conduit. This will lead you right to the control panel. With the right size of nut driver – typically a 5/16 inch or 1/4 inch tool – unscrew the access cover of the control panel. Put these in a safe place so that they are not misplaced. To release the cover from the condensing unit’s lid’s top lip, simply pull the access cover down. 3. You will need a voltmeter. Place the voltmeter’s leads on the wire terminals of the contactor. Make sure that the meter reads zero before continuing. You may need a different size of nut driver to unscrew the fan shroud of the condensing unit. This is typically a 3/8 inch, 5/16 inch, or 1/4 inch nut driver. To access the fan motor, you will have to life the lid. Depending on the model of the unit, you may simply need to remove the grille on the top, or you might have to take off the whole lid. Using wire cutters, look inside the fan compartment and cut the wires to the motor. 4. With the wires cut, you can now disconnect the condenser fan motor from the bracket that it is mounted in. Usually, the fan motor is screwed right into the mounting bracket. This will be either through the case sides or directly through the top of the AC fan motor. Simply use a nut driver to take these screws out. Some models, however, hold the heat pump fan motor in place using a belly band. You will need an adjustable wrench to loosen this band. 5. Next, you will need to loosen the mounting screw of the fan blade. This can be found near the blade’s center. Using an adjustable wrench, loosen the screw and pull the blade off of the shaft of the fan motor. If you have trouble with this because of rust, a couple of drops of oil will help you to remove it successfully. 6. Look at the tag on the old AC fan motor. This will tell you which wire goes to the capacitor, common, and hot, with a wire color guide. Be sure to make note of this where you can refer to it. Look at the tag on your new AC fan motor and make note of the wire color guide in the same way. Motors meant to allow for universal replacement often have several speed settings to choose from and use wires of different colors as a result. Look at both motors and compare the speeds. This will help you to find the wire of the right color, corresponding with the right speed. 7. Now take the fan blade that you removed earlier and slide it onto the shaft of the new condenser fan motor. Make sure that the fan blade’s mounting screw is facing away from the fan’s housing before you tighten the mounting screw. You can tighten this using an adjustable wrench. Spin the fan blade with your hand to make sure that is will not come into contact with any part of the new AC fan motor. 8. If there were new screws included with the new motor, use these to mount the new AC fan motor and fan blade back onto the fan mounting bracket of the unit. If new screws were not included, it is fine to re-use the old ones. However, if they are significantly rusted, you may wish to obtain new screws, anyway. If your unit uses a belly band, simply move the motor’s wires over the belly band, slide the fan into its place, and then re-tighten the band to secure the motor. 9. Leaving the older wires connected for your own reference, pull them into the control panel. Bring the new wires in, as well. Using the notes that you took regarding the wire colors and placement, connect the new wires to their proper terminals. Do this only one wire at a time – before you move on to the next wire, connect the correct wire from the new condenser fan motor to the correct terminal. One wire will connect to each of the contactor’s sides. Depending on the motor’s model, either one or two wires will connect to a capacitor. Do not just leave extra wires uncovered. Every single extra wire must have a wire nut twisted onto it to keep the wires from shorting out within the control panel. 10. Take the fan’s shroud and screw it back to the condensing unit. Re-attach the cover of the access panel with its screws, as well. Now you can turn the unit’s power back on using the circuit breaker box or disconnect box. Test the fan to make sure that it is working properly. You can recycle the old condenser fan motor that you have just removed – many scrap yards will pay you for it. If you are not sure that you can perform this repair successfully, do not do it by yourself. You should not attempt any kind of repair that you are not comfortable doing – particularly where there is electricity involved. It is better to get in contact with a professional repairman than to put yourself in danger.