Troubleshooting A Broken AC Condenser Fan

If you have a central air conditioner, then the main part of the unit sits outside your house. This part of the system is called the condenser. The condenser has quite a few moving parts that must work in conjunction with one another to move cool air into your house. One of these parts is the fan on the top of the condenser that helps to force heat away from the interior of the unit. If this fan suddenly stops working, then you should investigate the issue. Learn why a stopped fan can cause a problem and also how to fix the issue.

Problems With A Broken Fan

Your air conditioner will have two different fans. One fan forces the cool air into your house, while the other forces the hot air out of the condenser. The condenser fan sits on the very top of the condenser and it pulls air through the metal fins on the side of the unit. This air moves past the condenser coils and heat is forced out of the unit. This helps to release the heat from the coils that carry refrigerant through the system. These coils becomes hot as they pull heat from the air to cool it. This cooling process occurs within the part of the AC device that sits in your home. Once the refrigerant absorbs heat, it moves out of the home to the outdoor evaporator. 

Once the fan helps to release heat from the refrigerant, the cooled material is compressed and forced into the house once again. However, if the evaporator fan does not work, then the coolant will remain warm, and it will have a difficult time pulling any more heat out of the air. You will typically notice the unit blowing warm air if this happens. If you notice this and also see that the evaporator fan is not moving, then you will need to shut down your cooling system right away.

Your air conditioner will be at risk of breaking if the fan is not working. This means that warm air being blown into the home is not the only issue you will need to deal with. Parts of the internal system will also create heat. This is true of the compressor pump and fan motor, and these devices can overheat if warmth is not pulled away from them. 

Fixing The Fan

There are several reasons why the fan will not work. If the fan simply stopped one day and you have not cleaned the condenser in a while, then the fan may be obstructed with debris. Release the fan cover, hose the top grate off, and gently wipe the fan blades with a damp cloth. Try to move the fan with your fingers. If you hear a scraping noise when doing this, then the blades may be bent. Look for bent areas and gently guide the blade back into place. 

If the fan made squeaking or squealing noises before it stopped working, then there is a possibility that the fan belt has broken. Many older air conditioner units have a separate belt driven motor that helps to move the fan. This belt is called a serpentine belt and it fits over the pulleys attached to the motor. The belt and motor will be located near the fan, so remove the metal casing from the condenser unit, look for the motor, and examine the belt. If the belt is broken or not working properly, it will show noticeable signs of wear. Separation, cracking, glazing, and ripping damage is likely when it comes to rubber belts. 

If you notice this damage, then remove the broken belt by cutting it. Do not pull the belt off or you may damage the pulley system. Take the serpentine belt to your local home store to find an exact replacement. Gently work the belt around the grooves in the pulleys when you get a new one. Try the fan afterwards.

If you remove the casing from the compressor and do not see a belt, then it is likely that the AC unit is a newer one with a direct-drive motor. This type of motor will having bearings that make squealing and grinding noises when the bearings inside the motor go bad. The motor will need to be rebuilt or replaced if this is the case. Contact your HVAC professional if the fan is connected to a direct-drive motor so a repair can be arranged. 

For more information, contact a local HVAC company like Glendale Heating & Air Conditioning

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