Air Handler Motor Not Working? What to Do if your Air Handler Motor is Broken
In the heat of Pinellas County Florida, most homeowners never want to turn on their AC system to cool off the house only to discover that no air is blowing out of the vents. If you stepped outside and noticed your outside system is running but no air is circulating in the house, then it is possible your air handler motor is broken. An air handler motor (sometimes referred to as a blower motor) circulates cooled or heated air throughout a home by blowing air through ductwork. Indeed, both the outside system as well the air handler inside the home need to be working for an HVAC system to function properly.
An air handler motor is a critical piece of equipment in an HVAC system. Specifically, the air handler motor is what allows air to flow or circulate throughout the ducts in your home. If your air handler motor is broken your fan will not work at all even if you have set your thermostat to run the fan always to keep air circulating.
Read on to discover options to consider if your air handler motor is broken.
Air Handler Motor Broken – Confirm with an HVAC Professional
When you notice your air handler is not blowing any air at all throughout your home, it is a good clue that your air handler motor may be broken. However, before you jump to conclusions, we always recommend that you get your air handler inspected by an HVAC professional. There are multiple reasons for why an air handler motor may not turn on including electrical issues as well as wiring issues with the thermostat.
Central AC units in the Tampa Bay area are often heavily used during the warmest / summer months, where frequent afternoon storms bring lots of sudden rainfall and power outages (which can trip electrical breakers). You will want to confirm that your “air handler motor not working” issue is not simply an electrical breaker issue.
An experienced HVAC technician has the electrical equipment, testing devices, and knowledge to properly inspect your air handler to confirm that an air handler motor is indeed broken.
How Long Do Air Handler Motors Last?
Air handler motors can last 10-15 years depending on how well your AC system is maintained. By having a company like Air Care come out to your home twice per year for an HVAC tune up you can extend the life your air handler motor. For more information on our tune up service, please click here.
In addition to professionally maintaining your system, we also recommend that homeowners replace air filters when they get dirty. Air filters help to prevent dust and dirt from entering into the air handler. These filters not only keep your air clean from harmful airborne particles, but they also can help extend the life of the mechanical parts of your system by minimizing dirt and debris.
Some central AC systems have a larger filter cartridge in or around the air handler. It’s important to keep the AC filter adjacent to your air handler and air handler motor clean. To check your AC filter, turn off your AC system from the thermostat and remove the air filter. Accessing your air handler in an attic may require a ladder so it’s also a good idea to have another person be with you as you climb into the attic. You will want to inspect the HVAC filter for excessive dirt / dust. If the filter is unclean, then change it out for a new one. Be sure to select the correct size filter for your air handler, since an incorrect size can negatively affect the efficiency of your AC system.
If you have an older HVAC system and an HVAC professional has confirmed your air handler motor is broken, then you have multiple options to consider to get your AC system running again to fend off the Florida heat.
Air Handler Motor Broken – Now What?
There are 2 types of air handler motors / blower motors:
- Single Speed – goes at one speed and at full capacity. Normally, there are settings on single-speed air handler motors for low, medium, and high. But the settings are hardwired and not easily modified by a homeowner via a thermostat. Once a single-speed air handler motor is installed, you are most likely stuck with the airflow rate until your next tune-up.
- Variable Speed – operates at a low or high speed and creates a more even temperature throughout the home. A variable-speed air handler motor is more energy efficient, but also more expensive. Although variable-speed air handler motors tend to be quieter, variable-speed motors are typically much more expensive than their single-speed counterparts.
Depending on the age of your HVAC system you may choose one of the options below:
- Replace Air Handler Motor Only
- Replace the Entire Air Handler
- Replace the Entire HVAC System (including the outside unit)
Replace Air Handler Motor Only
For younger HVAC systems that were generally running well before the air handler motor failed, we recommend that you replace the air handler motor only. In this scenario, an HVAC repair company, such as Air Care, will look up the model number of your air handler motor and determine the best replacement product for your system. Generally speaking, a variable-speed motor will be replaced by a variable-speed motor and a single-speed motor will be replaced by a new single-speed motor. Assuming the age of your blower motor is over 5 years, then it will most likely not be covered by any manufacturer warranty.
Replace the Entire Air Handler
This option may actually not be an option depending on the age and model of your HVAC system. In most cases when you install a new air handler system you will want to install a new outside unit at the same time. (since the systems work hand in hand and replacing a 10-year-old air handler with a new air handler that may or may not work efficiently with a 10-year-old outside compressor unit). A trained HVAC professional can discuss your options. Ideally, the company that does your semi-annual tune-ups will already have good knowledge of your system and be in a position to recommend a solution that makes sense given the age and efficiency of your current system.
An experienced HVAC company in Florida can also guide you on required permits for local municipalities and counties in Florida. Check out this article for more info on permits required for home AC systems in Florida.
Replace the Entire HVAC System
There is an old saying “to not spend good money after bad money.” And, in the scenario of an older HVAC system with a broken air handler motor, there is a good argument to simply replace the entire HVAC system. Older systems are generally not as efficient as newer air conditioning systems, which means you will save money on monthly utility bills going forward by investing in a new system. In addition, replacing a motor blower will cost at least $1,000, and you don’t know which expensive AC repair will be potentially next month for your older system.
When Air Care technicians size AC units for home, we use a precise calculation and method called the “Manual J calculation.” You can read more about our process for determining system size here.
Air Care recommends Rheem for new installs of HVAC systems in the Tampa Bay area. We recommend new Rheem installs because they are priced fairly, offer a generous warranty, and have proven to be quiet, efficient, and reliable over the years. As a trusted Rheem Pro partner, our technicians stand ready to repair, replace and maintain all Rheem AC systems. We also service and repair other brands of AC systems, including Bryant, Carrier, Lenox, Trane, and York.
If you would like to get a free estimate for a new HVAC system, then call your Clearwater AC professionals at Air Care to discuss options and take your AC system to the next level. We service the following geographic areas in the Tampa Bay area:
- Pinellas (entire county)
- southern Pasco
- western Hillsborough
Professional Clearwater Air Conditioning Company Near You
When you hire Air Care for heating and air conditioning services, you are hiring experts who are trained to do it right the first time. Contact Air Care today by phone at 727-449-2699 for an in-home written estimate to replace an air handler motor or for a full HVAC system replacement.
Air Care replaced my 16 yr. old Air Conditioner that they installed. The AC techs were very professional. They put it in an acceptable time and cleaned up after themselves. I hope this unit lasts as long as my old one. – Richard Bruns