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KNOB & TUBE WIRING
LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GUIDE
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LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEMS
LOW VOLTAGE BUILDING WIRING
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
MAIN ELECTRICAL DISCONNECT
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MOISTURE SOURCES in PANELS
MURRAY SIEMENS Recall
PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEMS
PUSHMATIC - BULLDOG PANELS
REMOTE ELECTRIC POWER, PHOTOVOLTAIC
RUST in ELECTRICAL PANELS
SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS
SE CABLE SIZES vs AMPS
SIEMENS MURRAY Recall
THERMAL EXPANSION of HOT WATER
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UNDERGROUND SERVICE LATERALS
VOLTS / AMPS MEASUREMENT EQUIP
VOLTAGE MEASUREMENT METHODS
WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS
WIND TURBINES & LIGHTNING
ZINSCO SYLVANIA ELECTRICAL PANELS
Electric motor test & repair guide: this article describes A/C electrical motor troubleshooting: here we provide an electric motor diagnostic table, a troubleshooting guide that helps diagnose and repair most electric motor problems for motors found on HVAC equipment in buildings such as air conditioners, furnace or air handler blower fans, oil burner motors, well pumps, and condensate return pumps.
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In this article we provide a diagnostic guide to determine and repair problems with electric motors. The page top photo was taken of of an oil burner electric motor not an air conditioning blower fan motor or pump motor, but you'll see that all of these electric motors look a lot alike.
At left our photo illustrates the motor as typically found in a direct-drive HVAC blower or air handler assembly. (BLOWER FAN OPERATION & TESTING)
[Click to enlarge any image.]
While our page top photo shows the red reset button most clearly, the reset button on the motor at left may be harder to spot. Sometimes the reset button on an electric motor is hard to find, and sometimes there is no reset button!
Fatal Shock Hazard Warning: Inspecting electrical components and systems risks death by electrocution as well as serious burns or other injuries to the inspector or to others. Do not attempt these tasks unless you are properly trained and equipped.
What Are the basic Components of an A/C Electric Motor such as used on heating and air conditioning equipment?
Before discussing how to diagnose air conditioner or heating system electric motors let's be sure we know what motor parts might be involved. (Or skip right to Table A if you prefer).
The electric motor has quite a few parts if examined in detail, switches, wires, possibly capacitors, oiling ports and more, but there are four basic parts to every HVAC electric motor:
In addition to the basic electric motor components above there are two other features to know about when troubleshooting a motor.
Which way does an Electric Motor Run - Can Electric Motors run Backwards? Information found on the electric motor's data tag.
Details for this topic have moved to ELECTRIC MOTOR RUN DIRECTION. In short: check the motor label: uni-directional electric motors run just one way: clockwise (CW) or counterclockwise (CCW) but not both. Bi-directional & self-reversing electric motors run in either direction, CW or CCW. Some electric motors can start and run "backwards" following damage to the motor's start capacitor or windings.
In our photo at left you can see the notation on this electric motor data tag indicating the the motor is non-reversing and rotates counter-clockwise - designated by the words CCW ROTATION (red arrow).
If you enlarge the photo [Click any image to see an enlarged, detailed version] you will see text above the red arrow noting that this is a NON-REVERSING motor. (ELECTRIC MOTOR RUN DIRECTION)
The blue oval marks the motor's rotating speed - 3450 RPM - this is a high speed oil burner. Older oil burners and equipment motors run at 1725 RPM. Some HVAC equipment uses a variable-speed electric motor.
The green rectangle marks other useful data in the data tag for this motor, made by Emerson Electric in St. Louis MO. This is a 1/7 hp motor, designed for 115VAC, drawing 2.35A. These data are helpful when diagnosing electric motor problems: using a DMM or VOM we can detect unusual current draw above that 2.35A as a sign of trouble and we can check that the voltage level delivered by the electrical supply is close to 115VAC 60 cycle current single phase.
The motor's model number (SD55GYJTK-5181 in this example) is useful when replacing the motor or contacting the manufacturer for assistance.
An Electric Motor Time Rating designation is specified as CONT (continuous duty) - this motor is able to run continuously without damage or overheating under normal conditions.
A temperature rating (40C) and other data are given as well, including an explanation that this motor is. thermally protected and that should the motor's thermal protection switch trip off the user needs to press the red button. (ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET).
This motor's data tag also includes oiling specifications indicating the required lubrication schedule, discussed at ELECTRIC MOTOR LUBRICATION
Watch out: when buying replacement electric motors, fuel units, and blower fan assemblies to be sure they all are compatible. For example on oil fired heating equipment, the oil burner fuel units (the mechanical heating oil pump driven by the oil burner electric motor via a coupling) can be purchased as CW or CCW devices. All three components have to be designed to rotate in a common direction:
If the fuel unit is not rotated in the proper direction the heating appliance won't run - it won't receive fuel, and the driving motor and coupling parts may be damaged.
If a squirrel cage blower fan on an oil burner or inside of an air handler is spun backwards (ELECTRIC MOTOR RUN DIRECTION) it will not move much air and equipment will not function properly.
For article loading speed we have moved this data to ELECTRIC MOTOR LUBRICATION
Electric Motor Thermal Overload Switch - the Thermal Switch
Details are at ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET - separate article.
The start switch connects power to the start winding to start the motor spinning. This feature is necessary because depending on the position in which the rotor stopped when the motor last turned off, the rotating electrical field created by the run winding can't start the motor.
A trained service technician may sometimes diagnose a failed start winding or failed start switch by spinning the motor manually (potentially dangerous!). If the motor keeps running we suspect a bad start winding or bad start switch (see diagnostic table details at Table A: 14 Things to Check (in order) if an A/C Electric Motor Will Not Start.
When the electric motor has reached about 80% of its full speed the centrifugal switch opens, thereby disconnecting AC electrical power from the start winding. Power was already connected to and remains connected to the run winding.
So if the motor will start but won't keep running, we suspect a bad run winding or bad wiring to the winding.
For electric motors used in most HVAC applications motor full speed is usually 1725 or 3450 rpm, though some equipment may use variable speed motors as well. The centrifugal switch will open ("throwout") at about 2800 rpm for a 3450 rpm electric motor, and the centrifugal switch will open at about 1400 rpm for a 1725 rpm electric motor.
Table of Air Conditioning or Heating System Electric Motor Troubleshooting Procedures for a Motor that Will Not Start
Table of Air Conditioning or Heating System Electric Motor Troubleshooting Procedures for a Motor that Overheats or Trips its Reset Button or Runs at Abnormal Current or Voltage
Table of Air Conditioning or Heating System Electric Motor Troubleshooting Procedures for a Motor that is Noisy
For document loading speed we moved this data. Please see separate article: ELECTRIC MOTOR NOISE
General advice: Electrical Tests to Check HVAC Blower Fan Motor or Outdoor Compressor Fan Motor Winding on Heating or Cooling Equipment or on Other Electrical Motors
See these electrical test tool & equipment articles
Example: testing a blower fan motor winding: referring to the electrical diagram for your equipment, unplug electrical connectors at the fan motor. Measure the resistance between each lead wire with a multimeter or VOM. The multimeter should be set in the X1 range. For accuracy, don't measure when the fan motor is hot, allow it to cool off.
When the resistance between each lead wire are those listed in the specifications for your equipment the fan motor should be normal. Zero resistance or infinite resistance are indicators of a problem.
HVAC Repair Article Recommendations
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about how to troubleshoot electrical motors
Question: are there different test procedures for DC electric motors?
This article describes a lot of diagnostic test procedures for A/C electric motors such as those found in air conditioners, heat pumps, washing machines, clothes dryers, condensate pumps, well pumps, even garage door openers. But what about direct current motors such as used by hobbyists and in some automotive or boat applications?
Hobbyist LB Miller has described the design and function of a simple test fixture useful for determining the electrical resistance of DC motors by providing a 1A current to the motor and measuring the voltage drop across the motor, thus giving motor resistance in milli-ohms. Note that his approach is for DC motors. 
Questions & answers or comments about how to troubleshoot electric motors such as air conditioning compressor motors, heating equipment burner or fan motors, swimming pool motors, water well pump motors
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