As more devices become electric, electric motors have become far more commonplace. You likely already have several in your home, from the electric pump in your refrigerator to the garage door opener. However, there are many other applications for electric motors, both in homes and businesses. Electric motors can tilt solar panels, power ventilation systems, drive heavy-duty appliances, and much more. Nevertheless, these motors will need electrical repairs eventually. What causes motors to fail and how can you fix them?
Electrical Repairs: Repairing or Replacing Damaged or Broken Electrical Motors
What Causes Electric Motors to Fail?
Electric motors are relatively simple devices consisting of a magnetic material and a copper wire coil. Electric motors generally fail when one of these two parts is damaged. Electric current passes through the copper wire, spinning the magnetic rotor which rotates a driveshaft. The driveshaft is attached to a load, for instance a fan or a belt. Although there are few parts in most electric motors, they can fail under various circumstances.
Prevention is always preferable to repair. Consider a few of the factors that cause electric motors to fail and how you can extend the life of electric motors in your home or business.
Faulty Wiring and Electrical Sources
Electric motors are designed to operate within a specific voltage and current. Using the wrong electrical parameters can cause motors to fail prematurely. Most commonly, this happens when a motor designed for a lower voltage is used on a higher voltage line. For example, older devices in the US were designed for 110 volts, while modern grids use 120 volts. Though this difference is small and usually within most engineering tolerances, some devices may burn out faster.
Similarly, faulty wiring work in your home could cause a 120v device to receive up to 240 volts. Many industrial businesses have outlets wired for higher voltages, which should be clearly labeled and equipped with the proper socket to avoid accidentally connecting the wrong device. Nevertheless, some electricians cut corners. Consider having your electrical system inspected by professionals, especially if you’ve had several devices fail in a short period of time.
Underloading and Overloading
The load that a motor is attached to will have a direct impact on the motor’s longevity. Electric motors are at their most efficient when they run at about 75% of their maximum capacity. While most motors can run at 100% power, this causes them to burn out faster. Attaching a load that is too much for a motor’s capacity will result in the motor running at maximum power with too much resistance, which can cause overheating and accelerates failure.
Similarly, underloading a motor can also cause problems. When no load is applied, the motor can rotate too fast, which can cause damage to internal components. Overloading and underloading is usually associated with DIY repair jobs. A motor is just one part of a system. If other components are changed without taking into account the motor’s ideal operating conditions, the motor is likely to fail faster.
Wear and Tear Over Time
Like any mechanical component, electrical motors can also fail due to long-term wear and tear. Bearings that ensure smooth rotation eventually wear down due to the vibrations inside the motor. Magnets in motors lose their potency over time. Equipment can also be damaged during a move to another home or workplace.
Understanding what caused your motor to fail is important to prevent future failures. While wear and tear is the most common cause, if your motor was relatively new, then it might be a sign your electrical system has a problem. You may have the wrong motor for your specific application, and replacing it would only result in another broken motor. Professional electrical repair services can identify the root cause of your issues and get your systems back up and running.
Is It Better to Repair or Replace a Damaged Electrical Motor?
If you have a broken electrical motor, should you replace it or have it repaired? Repairing a motor is not a very difficult job and is often more affordable than replacing the motor outright, especially for larger motors. However, the best course of action will depend on the extent of the damage to the motor. Whether you choose to have your motor fixed or replaced, you should consult experienced professionals.
Consider which situations generally call for electrical repairs, and in which cases you should simply replace the motor with a new one.
Catastrophic Failures Call for Replacement
A catastrophic failure is one where major mechanical components of the motor are damaged during a failure. For example, excessive vibration could cause spinning parts to collide with the inner walls of the motor’s housing. If this happens, the rotating components can fracture, leaving fragments inside the motor which do further damage. Such a collision can also cause parts to bend, which increases vibration and may make the motor damaged beyond repair.
These kinds of failures generally call for a full replacement. Even if you can repair the motor by replacing the most damaged parts, there may be other damage that isn’t immediately visible. These motors are likely to fail again.
Replace Small, Affordable Motors
Large motors are more expensive to replace than small ones. Meanwhile, small motors can be more difficult to repair than larger ones due to their size. The time and labor cost associated with fixing small motors usually makes it impractical to repair them. For smaller motors, we would typically recommend a replacement.
Electrical Repairs Are Best for Most Situations
In most cases, you’ll be better off getting your motor repaired. Since the parts that tend to fail are relatively easy to replace, electric motor repairs can be completed quickly and are usually much cheaper than replacing a motor completely. Even older motors can be restored to work like new. If you have antique appliances that you want to keep running, refurbishing the motor is the best option. Besides, repairing a motor reduces waste and benefits the environment.
How Are Electrical Motors Repaired?
The first step is to diagnose the problem that the motor has. An electrician can take apart the motor and examine its components for damage. Damaged wires and bearings are common issues that can often be repaired on site. Less common motor models may require you to order specific replacement parts from the original manufacturer. All damaged components will be replaced to ensure that slightly damaged parts don’t cause another failure.
While the motor is under repair, the electrician will give it a thorough cleaning and reapply any lubrication needed. These small steps can help to extend a motor’s useful life after the repair. Finally, the motor is reassembled and tested to ensure it works properly.
How to Get Electrical Repairs in Dallas, TX
If you need electrical repair work done in the Dallas area, or anywhere else in the United States, work with a professional electrical company that does more than your local electrician or handyman. To get the best quality repairs possible, you want to look for electrical contractors with a wide set of skills and expertise with all kinds of electrical systems.
Contact Legacy Electric to speak to one of our representatives, or email us with your project ideas, and we’ll come up with a quote to help you make your vision come true.