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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    25

    Hmm Trane motor on heat pump failing every few months

    We have an ongoing situation with a Trane heat pump in our attic where every few months it keeps failing. We've lived in this house for nearly three years and in that time it's had roughly four new motors and just failed again so we're looking at five in three years. The house is about 9 years old and the unit was new in the house when it was built. I can get the model of the unit and post if needed.

    I'm trying to find out if the previous owners had any similar issues but am yet to hear back from them.

    The motor tends to fail when we switch from summer to fall or fall to summer settings. i.e. heat mode or ac mode. It's nearly always preceded by a thumping/drumming sound.

    When the motor is replaced (sometimes with a new fan blade) the system runs smoothly until the next season change. Once we switch over, it'll usually start drumming relatively soon and then within a couple of weeks fail completely.

    Some extra history is the first two companies to replace the motor (under house buyers insurance (HMS)) just replaced the motor and possibly the fan blades. Due to being organized by the insurance company we had little control over who did the work and didn't realize there was more of a systemic problem until the second/third motor replacement.

    The third motor was replaced by a company we have come to trust a little more and our technician found two things that were bad.

    1) The reason he felt the motor failed (2nd one) was because some wires were not tied back and were brushing the fan blade causing a short.
    2) When he came to replace the motor he didn't have one on his truck until he came to realize the one in the unit was undersized. He did have the "correct" unit on it truck so put that in. I seem to remember he replaced a 1/2 horsepower motor with a 3/4 horsepower.

    It ran really well for about three weeks and then stopped again. This was all in January of 2011. Since he replaced that 3rd motor the 4th has run well until we switched the other day. Within a few days it was vibrating again and then blew two days ago.

    So the reason for my post is to get ideas on what could be going wrong. Clearly the wires touching is something tangible and obvious, but the previous motors and this latest one are not so obvious. We're really lost as to what could be causing this.

    The fan blade has been changed numerous times. I started by thinking it was out of alignment hence causing the motor to vibrate and fail. But why it would be getting out of alignment I don't know.

    The current engineer is wondering if we're losing Amperage on getting a surge. A surge makes no sense since I have plenty of electrical devices in the house which would trip if we were getting a surge.

    Trane have given no idea on why the motors failed, despite them being returned.

    So, what should we be looking for? Why on earth would a failure be preceded by a heavy vibration/thumping/drumming sound?

    Help!?! At a loss here.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,086
    It appears nobody working on this unit has checked the system static pressure. That's the first thing I'd check, as it sounds like you keep shredding blower wheels. If your blower wheel and motor is toast now, you'll need to get it replaced once more, but don't let that be where the repair stops. IMO you may have an airflow issue through that air handler that is contributing to your problem.
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Nova Scotia Canada
    Posts
    7
    Has anyony checked for voltage imbalance.Anything over 2% (even as little as 2.4%) can affect current draw up to 20%.This can cause the motor to overheat and dissapate bearing lubrication and burn out windings over time.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Myrtle Beach, SC
    Posts
    2,919
    Quote Originally Posted by nscaper01 View Post
    Has anyony checked for voltage imbalance.Anything over 2% (even as little as 2.4%) can affect current draw up to 20%.This can cause the motor to overheat and dissapate bearing lubrication and burn out windings over time.
    Surely the blower motor in a residential unit is not 3 phase? a single phase motor would not have a voltage imbalance issue.
    Remember, Air Conditioning begins with AIR.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Athens GA
    Posts
    1,234
    Ever Trane wholesaler has to have a factory trained" Field Service Representative " just for these situations.
    Contact the factory to set up an appointment fror that rep to come to your house with a trane contractor.
    This is absolutely wrong and I have never seen anything like it.
    I get the feeling that the proper motor is not bgeing used.It might not have the service factor it needs or it might need to be ball bearing or it might not be the proper RPM or the proper capacitor.As stated they already put the wrong horse power in for you.
    Also Shophound might be on to something with bad ductwrork adding to the problem.A hot attic also might be adding to the problem.
    Good luck and let us know what the Trane FSR has to say.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    cincinnati ohio
    Posts
    2,020

    choo choo

    Your goin to need model numbers & pictures .....
    My avatar is a picture of a Goodman Silencer .....These were commonly used in Goodman country ....Photos by hvac tech ( PaysonHVAC )

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    over here
    Posts
    458
    Static...could be.... I seen this this year. House on 3rd blower. I question customer and take and show readings and where ducts needed re-done. Prollem solved.. Just sayin...

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Nova Scotia Canada
    Posts
    7
    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin O'Neill View Post
    Surely the blower motor in a residential unit is not 3 phase? a single phase motor would not have a voltage imbalance issue.
    My first reply....your absolutely right....I realized after i posted but didn't know how to correct it....feelin a little silly...tks for the correction

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    25
    Thanks for the responses, these help.

    I know on a couple of occasions when the motor blew, the fan wheel was not damaged in any way and was re-used, but it has been replaced by at least one tech, possibly twice so far.

    Our current tech said it's a 240 volt circuit, which he measured and said was good. But, tomorrow we have a senior tech coming out who is apparently my service companies "go to guy" so I'm hoping he can find something.

    I'll make sure I mention static pressure and voltage, RPM, Capacitor's and ball bearing to him.

    JJDH and Rep hit on something we found out when one of the service managers came to see us in January. For ages we couldn't understand why our ductwork in the attic had various cuts in it. We've been in the attic repairing them and it made no sense why someone would cut through the outer and inner soft ducting. The service manager suggested it was someone previously running an air-flow test and instead of punching a hole in the junction areas they cut into the duct. He said this was sloppy work from someone in the attic before and we've been repairing those holes.

    So that makes me wonder if the previous owners had also had air-flow problems and hence this all might be related.

    We do have three returns in the upstairs (big house) but of course that's no indication of whether this was done properly or not.

    The house is Toll Brothers and one of their very standard models, so I'd think this would be a problem across many of their houses of the same model if they really messed up their ductwork design.

    Given all this, any further suggestions to mention to the service tech tomorrow or perhaps things we should look for?

    I'll go find the model of the unit shortly and post it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Location
    Athens GA
    Posts
    1,234
    Well I worked with Trane equipment since it started out as General Electric.When you mentioned having to replace the blower wheel my first thought was Trane uses motors with odd RPM s in a lot of their units and if the new motor was too fast it would put a strain on the blower wheel.That with bad ductwork would also put a strain on it.
    I must also warn you of the addage of what assuming does for you.
    Just because a builder builds houses all the time means nothing as far as HVAC equipment goes.They put out a bid and its up to the contractor with the cheapest price to pick out the equipment and design the ductwork.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    25
    Rep, certainly understand on builders using different contractors. I'm going to check with my neighborhood and see if anyone else is having or has had such issues.

    I've taken some photos, i'll try and post them right now. Model # looks like TWG042A140B1.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Fort Worth, TX
    Posts
    11,086
    Cuts in the ductwork?? First thing that leaped into my mind upon reading that is the "cuts" were a hack (literally) attempt at relieving high static pressure in the ducts!

    Have you ever experienced iced up coils with this system, even with clean filters?
    • Electricity makes refrigeration happen.
    • Refrigeration makes the HVAC psychrometric process happen.
    • HVAC pyschrometrics is what makes indoor human comfort happen...IF the ducts AND the building envelope cooperate.


    A building is NOT beautiful unless it is also comfortable.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Posts
    25
    Quote Originally Posted by shophound View Post
    Cuts in the ductwork?? First thing that leaped into my mind upon reading that is the "cuts" were a hack (literally) attempt at relieving high static pressure in the ducts!

    Have you ever experienced iced up coils with this system, even with clean filters?
    Not that we're aware of. How would I know if we had?

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