During the summer months, it is common for your air conditioner’s fan to break down. Having a properly functioning fan is important to the entire air conditioning system because the fan is what aids in the process of cooling the refrigerant, which absorbs heat from your home.
To better understand the cooling process, it is important to not see it at as a cooling process. Instead, it is better described as a heat removal process, which relies on refrigerant to remove heat.
The refrigerant flows inside a copper line that flows back and forth between the condenser and evaporator units. As the refrigerant flows through the evaporator, it absorbs heat from your home. As it flows through the condenser, it releases that heat. This is why the condenser is located outside. If you have ever stood outside in front of this unit, you can feel the hot air blowing into the atmosphere.
The fan housed in the condenser is what blows the hot air. If you take a closer look, you’ll notice the fan sitting on the top portion of the condenser. The fan is crucial to the heat removal process because it cools the refrigerant flowing through the condenser coil. As the refrigerant passes through the coil, the airflow coming from the fan removes the heat from the refrigerant. But if the fan is broken, there will be no release of heat, and this will disrupt the entire cooling process–or heat removal process. A few issues will result in a broken fan.
To start, you’ll want to make sure that it is indeed the fan and not the compressor that is broken. If you turn on the A/C, and there is no noise coming from it, this may signify an electrical issue, or a problem with the compressor. On the other hand, if the fan fails to rotate and you hear a humming noise when the air conditioner is on, then this likely means that the compressor is fine. In this case, the fan is probably the problem. This is actually better than the previous scenario because replacing a compressor is very costly, and it may be reason enough to replace your entire cooling system. Also, if you do hear the humming sound and the fan is not working, be sure to shut off your air conditioner immediately to avoid any damage to the compressor. Even though a bad compressor is not a bad fan, a bad fan may cause a bad compressor.
If your A/C technician finds that the fan is indeed the offender, then it may be a number of more specific issues causing it to malfunction. It may be the fan itself, which may have a broken blade. You would be able to see this by peeking into your outdoor unit. If this is the issue, do not let your A/C run. A broken blade will eventually break the motor, which is another issue in itself.
A broken fan motor can be replaced by a certified A/C repairman, but if you keep your air conditioner running with a broken fan motor, this will damage the compressor. You definitely want to steer clear of any compressor issues.
Most of the time, a faulty fan issue can be traced to the fan motor’s run capacitor. This part is similar to a fuse. It protects the wiring and equipment, but it also acts as an energy storage device. Similar to a fuse, it can burn out, and in particularly hot weather, it can fail. In fact, it is meant to fail if the day reaches certain high temperatures. When replacing this unit, ask your technician for a run capacitor that is rated for maximum temperatures so that you won’t have to worry about this problem in the future.
Whether you are dealing with a bad capacitor or a bad compressor, shutting off your central air conditioner is always the first step in finding solutions to your A/C problems. Leaving your air conditioner on while glitches are lurking will only lead to more problems and repairs. Also, please note that all of these air conditioning complications are electrical in nature and should be handled by certified technicians only.
For help finding a certified A/C repairman, search our listings, or call us at 866-97-ACPRO.