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Furnace Blower Motor: Troubleshooting, Maintenance, & Repair

common furnace blower motor issues

Now that winter is here, many homeowners are dealing with some common furnace issues. One of those problems we often hear about has to do with the furnace blower motor.

A variable speed blower motor blower motor is constantly pushing air for both heating and cooling, it has a significant impact on its efficiency. In the summer, when the air conditioner is running, the same blower motor that performs during the winter when the furnace is operating. It's no surprise that this active component may require maintenance on occasion.

If you ignore a blower motor repair, the problem will only get worse and more expensive to address over time. If the blower motor is not fixed promptly, it can lead to other components of the system overheating or entire furnace breakdown.

In this article we will answer some common questions we hear about furnace blower motors, including:

  • How does a furnace blower motor work?
  • How long do furnace blower motors last?
  • How do I know if my furnace blower motor is bad?
  • Should I replace my furnace blower motor or replace my whole furnace?

What Is a Furnace Blower Motor?

A furnace blower motor is an electric blower that uses a belt to spin the fan blades. This motor works in tandem with your furnace to distribute cool air so your home becomes warm during the winter months.

What Does a Blower Motor Do?

Blower motors influence how quickly your furnace can heat up. If it takes too long for your heating system to get hot, you're going to spend more money than necessary on energy bills because your unit will run longer than needed. A blower motor also helps circulate the heated or cooled air throughout the house by forcing cold air into vents and pushing warm air out.

Where Is a Furnace Blower Motor Located?

In older furnaces, the squirrel cage blower is powered by a fan that is driven by the motor mounted on the side of the blower. The spinning motion from the motor's spindle to the fan spindle is transmitted via a belt from this older type of furnace. With this style, the motor and blower are separate components, so repairs or replacements may involve either the motor or the blower, as well as both together.

Direct-drive designs are used in newer furnaces. The spindle of the motor drives the blower wheel directly. There is no need to adjust or replace the fan belt with these types, and the motor and blower may be linked as a single unit. The blower wheel may be driven by a belt, chain, or gearbox. The motor is either integrated into the blower wheel or mounted at the end of it.

With this design, the blower assembly may typically be removed and replaced separately, but some versions are installed as one-piece units that must be disconnected and reconnected together.

How Long Does a Furnace Blower Motor Last?

Blower motors are designed to last just as long as your furnace itself, anywhere from 10 to 20 years. Just as with any HVAC system, the better maintained and serviced your equipment is by experienced HVAC technicians the longer it will last and the fewer repairs you'll face.

Common Signs Your Furnace Blower Motor is Bad

Like other heating components in your HVAC system, the blower motor can wear down over time.  When the blower malfunctions, the central heating and air conditioning system won't be able to perform its job.

Watch out for these signs that your furnace blower motor is having problems:

Grinding or Screeching Sound

Furnace blowers are designed to run smoothly and be well lubricated for many years. If your furnace blower is making a grinding or screeching sound, it could mean that the motor bearings have worn down the gears inside the assembly.

Intermittent Operation

Sometimes furnace blowers can become intermittent. This means they run fine some of the time, but other times they stop altogether. There might even be long periods where you don't hear anything from them at all. When this happens, there's usually something wrong with either the blower motor itself or with another part of your furnace that controls it.

Problems include dirty filters, broken wires, poor voltage supply and faulty limit switch or capacitor. You can test your limit switch with a multimeter, and clean the blower motor's wire coils. If this doesn't work, you may need to replace your furnace blower motor.

After a Few Hours, Furnace Stops Running

Sometimes, when the issue is something other than the blower motor itself—such as an overheated limit switch or overworked capacitor—the problem will manifest in the form of stop signs within your heating system. When this happens, instead of having intermittent issues all day long, your furnace will stop working after several hours of operation at most.

This might be caused by an excess buildup of dust particles inside the blower assembly resulting in overheating because there's not enough air flow. If you suspect overheating, clean your blower assembly with compressed air.

Unusual Odors or Burning Smells

You may notice a strange odor or burning smell emanating from your furnace, but if it's particularly noxious, the smell could even make its way throughout your house. This is often a sign that there's a problem with either the motor itself or one of the other parts concerning the blower assembly. Check to see if there are any visible signs of damage to prevent further problems from occurring in the future.

Make sure you clean your furnace blower regularly and change filters as needed. In some cases, replacing your furnace blower motor can fix this issue altogether, though it might be necessary to replace other parts depending on what caused the problem to begin with.

Replace a Blower Motor or Buy a New Furnace?

Age, like with many other choices when it comes to repairing or replacing something, has a significant role. When it comes to investing in protection, many consumers are unsure what the best value is between repairs and replacement.

The older a furnace, the more likely you will save money by replacing the entire heating system over paying for constant repairs. Newer models are more energy-efficient, so you'll spend less money on heating costs each year.

When it comes to blower motor replacement, a qualified HVAC technician will help you determine the pros and cons of your existing furnace after a thorough inspection and help you determine the best decision for your budget and your home.

Reliable Furnace Blower Motor Repair

If your furnace is making strange noises experiencing inexplicit failure, your blower motor may be the reason. Trust the national heating and air conditioning technicians at ARS/Rescue Rooter for all of your furnace needs.

Whether you need to install a new blower motor, or install an brand new furnace system, we have the experience and expertise to provide you with the very best residential heating service.

To schedule an appointment for one of our comfort specialists, call 866-399-2885 or find your nearest ARS/Rescue Rooter location here.

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