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How Much Should an Air Conditioning Motor Cost to Replace?

It would be incredibly rare that the motor is the only problem with the outdoor air conditioning unit. Usually a motor goes bad because of the conditions that it is operating in. These conditions must be corrected for the new fan motor to last any length of time at all.

Here are some operating conditions that can cause premature failure of an air conditioning fan motor.

  • Too hot a working environment

  • Fan blade positioned incorrectly

  • Unbalanced fan blade

  • Freon overcharge

  • Poor electrical contracts

  • Poor output from the capacitor

  • Low voltage conditions

  • Short Cycling

  • Wrong size motor - Wrong type motor

  • Dirty air filter/evaporator coil

The Fan Motor can fail because of too hot a working environment

The number one reason why a fan motor will fail is because the air cooling the windings of the motor is superheated. All the air cooling a typical outdoor air conditioner fan motor is hot. The air first passes through the outdoor condensing coils where it picks up heat and this heated air cools the fan motor. If the air is restricted going through the condensing coils the air has a longer time to pick up heat from those coils and becomes super-heated. This above average air temperature then overheats the windings and bearings in the fan motor and creates a situation that supports a premature fan motor failure.
The number one reason for restricted airflow through the condensing coils of the air conditioner is lack of maintenance. Plants, hair and dryer lint build up in the coils are the primary reasons for air restriction. When replacing the outdoor fan motor for the air conditioner the coils should be cleaned as well.

Improper Fan Blade Positioning leads to fan motor failure

If the fan blade is too high in the fan blade housing or too low in the fan blade housing the motor will be unable to pull the correct amount of air through the condensing coils. This leads to the fan motor heating up and this leads to failure. Often when replacing an outdoor air conditioner fan motor the unit must be cycled and tested for proper air movement. If the fan blade is positioned backwards (I have seen this many times) the fan blade will move air, just not a lot of air.

Unbalanced Fan Blades or Wrong Fan Blade

Fan blades come in different sizes, pitches and different numbers of blades. Service technicians do not carry these on their trucks for normal motor replacement because there are way too many sizes. An experienced service technician should be able to tell if the fan blade is moving enough air by testing the refrigerant levels after the installation of the fan blade and motor. When replacing the motor the refrigerant levels must be checked to confirm that the motor and the fan blade are operating correctly.

Freon Overcharge

The Freon levels must be checked after the correct RPM motor and fan blade are reinstalled. More than 50% of the time that an outdoor fan blade is replaced the system Freon pressures are incorrect. If the Freon was overcharged the heat the air cooling the fan motor will be too hot and this leads to fan motor failure.

Poor Electrical Contacts

If the contacts in the system relay contactor are pitted or burnt or other electrical connections are in poor shape the starting load of the compressor will cause a voltage drop. The voltage drop will cause an increase in heat from the electrical use in the fan motor and this will decrease the motor's lifespan. The contactor often must be replaced when the outdoor air conditioner fan motor fails. All electrical connections must be checked.

Defective Capacitor

Often the motor fails because of a failure of a supporting component like the run capacitor serving the motor. Many times mistaken technicians replace the capacitor and see the fan motor run without doing the proper amperage draw measurement or airflow test. They pronouncement the system working, when in fact, all they did was postpone the evitable motor failure. That second failure can lead to compressor damage. If the fan motor went off on thermal overload it suffered at least some damage. Providing the proper tests can help to pinpoint how much that damage is.

Low Voltage Conditions

Low voltage conditions lead to motor failure because of the relationship between amperage draw, voltage and heat resulting from them. When the voltage lowers the amperage directly increases for the motor to perform the same amount of work. When the amperage increases, the heat increases as well. The higher the heat, the lower the performance of the motor, the shorter the lifespan of that motor. Low voltage situations are almost always from undersized electrical wiring and poor electrical connections.

Short Cycling

Short cycling occurs when the air conditioning system turns on and off rapidly every few minutes. This constant start-stop leads to premature motor failure. A properly sized air conditioning system and a properly installed air conditioning system should run for a considerable amount of time before shutting off.

The Wrong Size Motor and/or The Wrong Size Motor

Motors come in a variety of styles, sizes and types as well as rpms. They are not always compatible and they do not cost the same. Motors can be purchased for under a $100 wholesale or as much as $400 wholesale for a standard home air conditioner. It depends upon the situation, the kind of unit, the voltage, the phase, the rpms and much more. Undersized motors and oversized motors tend to overheat and fail quickly.

Dirty Air Filter and Dirty Evaporator Coils

The reason that dirty air filters and dirty evaporator coils, along with anything else that restricts the airflow across the evaporator coil, can cause a premature fan motor failure in the outdoor air conditioner is because of Freon charging. Most service technicians do not charge Freon correctly. The EPA estimates that about 90% of all air conditioners are not charged correctly. Most of them are overcharged with Freon. The reason is because a lack of airflow across the indoor evaporator coil will cause lower than normal Freon pressures. In order for the technician to bring those levels up to where the unit will cool he will add Freon until the appropriate pressures are met. This overcharges the unit. On a hot day the amount of heat coming off the condensing coils and surrounds the fan motor is too hot and this damages the motor.

What is the Cost of a Fan Motor Replacement?

It is the cost of the motor, the capacitor, the fan blade (maybe), the contactor (maybe), repairing electrical connections (maybe), cleaning the condensing coil, adjusting Freon levels (maybe), cleaning the evaporator col (maybe), cleaning or replacing the air filter (maybe), checking airflow through the home, checking the airflow across the condensing coils, checking the running load voltage and checking the running load amperage to ensure that the new fan motor will not fail the way the old one did.

This is why quoting a motor replacement over the phone is such a difficult thing to do. We just don't know why the fan motor failed in the first place and what it is going to take to make sure it doesn't fail again. For all those armchair air conditioning technicians out writing on the Internet looking for a bit Andy Warholism, you should ignore them. Unless the root of the problem is found and fixed you cannot correctly replace a fan motor for $100 or $500. I hope that I did a good enough job on this page explaining the reasons why.


Call Today for a Free in Home Estimate to Replace your Air Conditioning Fan Motor 1-877-247-6426

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