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5 Causes of Motor Failure and Solutions for Preventing Them
Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The life span of electric motors is predetermined, typically ranging between 30,000 and 40,000 hours. This, however, depends on maintenance. If you fail to maintain a motor, it will likely break down sooner.

If you’re concerned about motor failure and want to prevent it, read below a few major causes of motor failure and the steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of failures.

1. Low Resistance

Low resistance is the major culprit behind motor failure and it’s not easy to overcome. Degradation of insulation on windings because of conditions like corrosion, physical damage or overheating can cause low resistance. When this happens, short circuit and leakages between the motor windings or conductors can occur and eventually the motor fails.

Solution: Regularly inspect the motor’s insulation. Check if there’s wear and replace it before low resistance causes failure.

2. Electrical Overload

Over-current or electrical overload is caused by excessive current flowing within the windings of the motor and exceeds the current the motor is designed to handle safely. This is another cause of motor failure. Low supply voltage can create this problem as the motor will draw in more current to achieve the required torque. Excessive voltage supply or short-circuited conductors can also cause electrical overload.

Solution: Install over-current protection (circuit breakers, fuses or other protection devices) which will interrupt supply in case of an over-current.

3. Overheating

About 55 percent of insulation failures in motors are the result of overheating. High temperature environment and poor power quality are two major causes of overheating. For every 10°C increase in the motor’s temperature, its insulation life reduces by 50 percent.
Solution: It’s essential to keep the motor as cool as possible to prevent the overheating problem. Ensure that the environment where the motor is operating is cool. Otherwise, it’ll be extremely difficult to prevent breakdowns.

4. Contamination

Another leading cause of motor failure is contamination from dirt, dust and chemicals. Foreign bodies can find their way into the motor and can end up denting bearing balls and raceways. This can lead to wear and high level of vibrations. The cooling fan may also get blocked limiting the ability of the motor to regulate temperature and increasing chances of overheating.

Solution: Preventing contamination isn’t hard. Keep tools, fixtures and the work area clean to eliminate the likelihood of dirt, dust and other contaminants entering into the motor.

5. Vibration

Vibrations can create issues with motor and eventually cause it to fail. Vibrations often occur because the motor isn’t position on a flat or even surface. However, sometimes underlying issues with the motor like corrosion, misalignment or loose bearings can also lead to vibrations.

Solution: Check the motors for vibrations regularly using a motor analyzing tool. Position the motor on a stable, flat surface to reduce vibrations. If that doesn’t solve the problem, check for wear, misalignment and loose bearings.

If you're in need of further assistance, contact the experts at Midwest Equipment for help!


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