How to Troubleshoot an Electric Motor Problem

Electric motor in a warehouse

Your electric motor is the heartbeat of your company and although it can last for years, such a heavy workload can cause it to experience a variety of problems along the way.

Before you call your electrical technician for help, it can be useful to get to the bottom of what’s causing your motor issue. Some simple problems can be managed without assistance, but even if you find a serious fault, your troubleshooting data could be the key to a quick and effective repair.

At Sloan Electric, we’ve created this handy guide so you can troubleshoot your electric motor problem as quickly as possible and reduce the downtime at your company.

Perform a Safe Visual Inspection

No matter how badly you want to get your system up and running again, it’s essential to put safety first. Always start by shutting off the motor power to prevent accidental injury. A lack of current will not disrupt your troubleshooting ability – in fact, it will allow you to safely gather some basic data about the motor through a basic visual inspection.

Look out for:

  • Signs of debris or dirt disrupting the performance of motor windings
  • Corrosion or unexpected moisture in the system
  • The smell of burning or any other strange aromas that might indicate motor damage
  • Charring around the motor shaft, which might appear in the form of dark spots in the paint

When performing the inspection, be sure to have all the motor’s documentation to hand. This will include data about RPM, horsepower, voltage, and ambient temperature rating, which you can use to check your machine’s performance.

Evaluate Common Problem Areas

Though there are many issues that can occur within an electric motor, some are generally more common than others. If it’s not directly obvious what’s causing your failure after the visual inspection, take a closer look at the following three key parts of the motor.

The Bearings

Located on either end of your motor, bearings that show signs of corrosion or charring might prevent the motor from running properly. If you noticed strange sounds in your motor before the failure, this could be an indication that the bearings are your problem.

The Windings

Using an ohmmeter, you can check to see whether any wires in your system are suffering from shorts. It’s worth finding out from a technical expert what kind of ohmmeter you need before you begin troubleshooting, as sometimes lower voltages are necessary.

The Fan

The fan can be an overlooked component in an electric motor, but it’s crucial to the performance of your machine. If the fan blades are jammed or broken in some way, that could be a sign that you need to replace your fan.

Repair or Replace Your Electric Motor?

Once you’ve finished troubleshooting the problems with your electric motor, you’ll need to make an important decision about how to proceed. Typically this means determining whether your motor can be easily repaired, or whether it should be replaced.

If you’ve had your motor for a number of years and encountered multiple issues over that period, it might be time to make a new investment. But just because a motor has failed doesn’t necessarily mean that you need a replacement.

If your motor is still suitable for its application and hasn’t experienced a catastrophic failure, then you may be able to repair the problem easily and cost-effectively. With the help of an EASA-accredited company like Sloan Electric, repairing your motor doesn’t have to mean compromising on efficiency and performance; you can actually minimize your downtime, as you won’t need to wait around for your new motor to be delivered.

Contact Sloan Electric today and speak to our experts about your motor problems so that we can suggest the best course of action for your company.

How to Troubleshoot an Electric Motor Problem was last modified: February 20th, 2018 by admin
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Jerry is the owner of Sloan Electromechanical and is active in all aspects of the company. He is passionate about doing the work RIGHT and proposing the best product solution, hence the Sloan team is focused on aligning company values with client values. Please post your questions or comments and Jerry will respond. For a faster or confidential response, please contact Jerry directly 619-515-9691 or LinkedIn www.linkedin.com/pub/jerry-gray/17/332/5a1
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