The time has finally come for you to either clean or replace your unit's blower wheel, but, you're having trouble getting the wheel off a blower motor. Worry not; we've done the research for you and have even consulted with several technicians to gather enough legitimate information for us to guide you through the step-by-step process in this post.
Setting your blower wheel free won't necessarily be a very difficult job. You'll only need some screwdrivers and a wrench. But make sure you shut the power off and that you're wearing some gloves to prevent cuts on your hands before you proceed with these steps:
- Remove the motor from the housing.
- Open the housing.
- Extract the blower wheel.
To troubleshoot a stuck wheel, you can try the following:
- Back up the long screw of the hub puller.
- Attach the set screws of the hub puller.
- Place the hub puller down.
- Tighten the set screws.
- Tighten the long screw down.
Now that you've got the basics down, keep on reading to see the in-depth guide for each of the steps above. We'll also delve into the purpose of a blower wheel and what happens if you do not maintain it.
An In-depth Guide On How To Remove The Blower Wheel
The tools you'll need for the basic process are some screwdrivers (matching the types of screws bolted) and a crescent wrench (make sure the jaws are flat).
Step 1: Remove the motor from the housing
Using the compatible screwdriver, remove the screws holding the motor in place located near the edge of the housing. There should be three or four of these around the motor.
Next, flip the housing upside-down. Using a crescent wrench, loosen the set screw from the shaft located in the middle of the wheel. It's not necessary to remove this as long the motor slips free.
You can now pull the motor out entirely and set it aside.
Step 2: Open the housing
Remove the screws located on the bottom sides of the housing. There should be two types of screws here. You can then remove the metal plate from the bottom part of the housing.
Step 3: Extract the blower wheel
You can now grab the wheel on its sides and pull the blower wheel out from the bottom of the housing.
Watch this video for a visual guide:
Troubleshooting A Stuck Blower Wheel And Motor
The tools you'll need for this are a lubricant, coarse sandpaper or sandpaper belt, and a hub puller if the wheel still won't budge.
Clean the blower motor's shaft of any dust and dirt, then apply a lubricant on it. For extra measure, completely remove the set screw bolted in the hub of the blower wheel.
If the shaft is rusty, push the blower wheel all the way down and use a coarse sandpaper or sandpaper belt to remove as much rust as you can. You can then grab your wrench to hold the blower motor's shaft in place and spin the blower wheel counterclockwise. Apply lubricant as needed. This should loosen the hub, allowing it to move freely around the shaft.
If all else fails, you'll have to use a hub puller to forcibly but safely push the motor out of the blower wheel.
The most efficient way to do this is to get yourself a heavy-duty hub puller such as the ultimate hub puller.
Follow these steps to free the wheel of the motor:
Step 1: Back up the long screw of the hub puller
Loosen the long screw, so it rises from the hub puller far enough to fit and cover the hub of the blower wheel.
Step 2: Attach the set screws of the hub puller
Attach the three set screws to the side of the hub puller. Make sure you screw them in just enough so that they're hanging in the wall of the hub puller but not obstructing the way. If the set screws are already attached but blocking the way, simply loosen them to give enough space.
Step 3: Place the hub puller down
Set the hub puller down on the blower wheel's hub so that it completely covers it while making sure none of the set screws align with the hole on the wheel's hub. If the hub puller still doesn't go all the way down, loosen the long screw further.
Step 4: Tighten the set screws
Tighten the three set screws so that they fasten on the blower wheel's hub securely. You can use your wrench to tighten them as much as you can.
Step 5: Tighten the long screw down
Use your wrench to tighten the long screw to start pushing down the blower motor's shaft. Keep tightening until the motor finally gets pushed out of the wheel.
You can now start the process of extracting the blower wheel from the housing.
Here's a video that shows how to do the troubleshooting steps:
What Is The Purpose Of A Blower Wheel?
The blower wheel is an important component of the blower motor, which circulates a substantial amount of air in and out of the unit. It blows the air through the furnace, evaporator coil, and finally, the ductwork for heating and cooling, ensuring the unit runs smoothly without overheating.
What Happens If The Blower Wheel Is Not Maintained?
Over a long period of operation, the blower wheel in your unit can build up dirt or grease and clog its blades. Clogged blower wheel blades will force your furnace to work in overdrive just to keep the air circulating. The heat exchanger will also be affected and will cause it to run hotter, which can raise your electricity bill or freeze the coil. This will lower your furnace's lifespan and eventually damage it along with the compressor in your unit. Keep in mind that the cost of repair can be expensive.
Most blower wheels must be pulled out and cleaned approximately every 2 to 5 years, depending on usage. So make sure you conduct a check-up at least once a year to prevent build-up and damage.
How To Clean A Blower Motor And Wheel
Get yourself a microfiber towel to wipe down the motor and all its surroundings. If there's too much dust, you can blow them off with a bit of compressed air or low-pressure nitrogen. Do not get any water in or on the motor.
Cleaning the housing and wheel is simple. You can just rinse them with water. If you have a garden hose with a spray nozzle, it'll make it more efficient. If you don't have a spray nozzle, the old thumb-in-hose trick will do.
Do not use any chemicals on the wheels when cleaning. Let the wheel dry either by toweling it off or using a leaf blower if you have one. Make sure that there's no dirt left on the wheel, as it can put it off balance, causing it to vibrate in the housing when running. Needless to say, it can damage the whole unit.
You can follow this video to have a better view of the procedure:
What Are The Symptoms Of A Bad Blower Motor?
There are four signs of a bad blower motor that you can watch for: Weak airflow or none at all, loud noise coming from the unit, tripping circuit breaker, and a foul odor emitting from the vents.
These can usually be caused by the motor working on overdrive which then causes overheating, weakened bearings, impairment in the windings, dirt build-up, a bad blower wheel, or the motor has finally gone passed its lifespan.
How Long Do Blower Motors Last?
The life expectancy of blower motors can last as long as the furnace. This could be between a minimum of 10 years or up to 20 years, depending on the usage, how they're being used, and whether or not they have been given the appropriate amount of maintenance. Basically, the better maintained your unit is, the longer it will last and the less frequent repairs you'll have to get done.
The blower wheel is a crucial component to ensure the whole unit runs smoothly and maintains a good amount of lifespan. Knowing what symptoms to look for will allow you to immediately determine the source of the problem and act on it.
When extracting the blower wheel, the usual procedure isn't as complicated as it sounds, and you won't have to use an excessive amount of tools. Cleaning the whole unit isn't difficult either. But depending on how hard the blower wheel is stuck to the blower motor, it can then get a bit tougher and will require you to obtain additional tools. If you cannot obtain the necessary tools for the process, have a technician work on it.
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