Air Conditioning 101: What Does an AC Fan Motor Do?

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The air conditioner blows air in and out of the room with the help of motors. These motors are responsible for cooling the room, and keeping the air conditioner from overworking as they redirect the airflow in and around the unit.

In this article, we'll look at the difference between a condenser fan motor and a blower motor, and why both have essential functions in an air conditioning system to keep the unit in good working condition. Fan motors are some of the most commonly-repaired parts of an AC unit, so you can find the costs of replacing the motor below as well.

What is an AC Fan Motor?

An HVAC motor may refer to two types of fan motors: the condenser fan motor located in the outdoor unit, and the blower motor located in the indoor unit. Both motors are essential to the air circulation in and around the air conditioner, and they keep the room cool by blowing cool air into the room, while expelling warm air out of the room.

Condenser Fan Motor

The condenser fan motor is located outside, just by the condenser unit. Its main function is to expel the warm air from the unit, keeping the unit from overheating. Air conditioners create warm air in addition to creating cool air in the process, and this warm air can overwork the HVAC system, and interfere with the cooling efficiency of the air conditioner.

The condenser fan motor relieves the AC unit of the warm air circulating inside the system. As it expels the warm air outdoors, it picks up heat from the evaporator coils and refrigerant lines, allowing the exhaust to escape from the unit.

Blower Motor

On the other hand, the blower motor is responsible for delivering the cool air into the room, significantly lowering the room temperature to the desired degree set on the thermostat. The fan blades turn to redirect the cold air - cooled by the air conditioning system, to the room, and this part creates the airflow you can feel from your air conditioning unit.

In central AC systems, the blower motor is what directs the airflow through your ductwork, delivering cool air to various zones around the home. This movement is often done with a blower wheel, which can redirect large volumes of air throughout the entire system.

What's the Difference?

Both motors are important aspects of an air conditioner, and they work together to form the fan motor system of an HVAC unit. The big difference between the two is where the airflow is directed. The condenser fan motor redirects warm air out of the space though the inner workings of the AC unit, while the blower motor delivers cooled air into the space.

The Importance of a Fan Motor for AC Unit

1. Condenser Fan Motor Redirects Warm Air Outside

Part of cooling the room is removing the warm air from the AC system. Air conditioners heat up as it creates cold air, and the heat created can easily increase the temperature in the room. Thus the air conditioner works harder to keep the room cool to the desired temperature. The fan motor expels the warm air, keeping the room consistently cool.

2. Blower Motor Circulates Cool Air Indoors

Without the blower motor, the air conditioner cannot cool the room properly. In addition to removing the warm air from the system, the blower motor works indoors to provide cold air to the room for your cooling comfort. The fan may be set to different speeds as well, which controls the volume of air circulated into the room.

3. Fan Motor Keeps the AC from Overheating and Freezing

As condenser fan motors move air out of the unit, they relieve some of the heat from the AC compressor and condenser. This prevents the air conditioner from overheating, and keeps the components in good shape. This also prevents problems with the circuit breaker, as an overheating AC system tends to cause a tripped breaker.

At the same time, the blower motor moves cold air out of the unit, keeping the unit from freezing up. Air conditioners pull humid air from the room, and the water vapor from the air cools to a liquid state. When airflow is restricted, the cold air cannot move into the room, freezing the condensation within the air conditioner. The blower motor prevents this.

Diagnosing A Faulty AC Fan Motor

#1 Rattling Noise or Whirring Noise

A rattling noise is one of the tell-tale signs of a problem with your fan motor system. Normally, you should see the fan blades turning as your AC unit operates. However, debris stuck between the blades, broken blades, and bent fan blades can cause a rattling or whirring noise, which indicates a problem with the fan.

A loud or high-pitched whirring noise indicates a problem with the motor itself, not the fan blades. The motor may be faulty or in need of repairs, and it may overheat when left to run in its faulty condition. You can attempt to dislodge the debris from the fan blades, but it is best to leave the problem to a professional.

#2 Minimal to No Airflow

When the fan motor is faulty, it will not blow air in or out of your room. You may notice little to no airflow coming out of your unit, as well as a helicopter-like noise. Your unit may be warm to the touch as well.

While minimal airflow may also be caused by a dirty air filter and coils, the fan motor can also be the source of the problem. No airflow means the circulation in the unit is restricted, which can cause the unit to heat up or freeze as the air cannot escape the unit. Have one of our HVAC technicians at Luce Aircon assess your unit for an accurate diagnosis and repair!

#3 Overheating AC Unit

An overheating AC may indicate a problem with the condenser fan motors, as the motor can no longer push exhaust out of the system. Alternatively, it may also be due to the motor overheating. In any case, power your unit off, and unplug it before calling a technician to find and fix the issue.

Cost to Replace an AC Fan Motor

Fan motors are some of the most commonly-replaced parts in an air conditioning system as their prolonged use can quickly lead to wear and tear. Replacing a fan motor can cost anywhere between $300 to $600, depending on the type of motor, brand, and make of your air conditioning unit.

Why Choose Luce?

Luce Aircon technicians have decades' worth of experience cleaning, diagnosing, and repairing air conditioning systems across various brands, so you can be sure we'll fix any problem with your unit. We offer only the best services at moderate prices, and we can help you keep the costs of maintaining your unit down!

Got an AC problem? Don't try to DIY fixing that fan motor, and let our technicians at Luce Aircon handle the issue! 

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