6 Common Malfunctions in Electric Motors

Large electric motor in repair factory

Similarly to any mechanical device, an electric motor can suffer from a range of issues, including damaged interior components all the way to harm from exposure to contamination. In reality, there are any number of reasons that can cause electric motor malfunctions. But to help you address and understand the most common electric motor malfunctions, we have provided a list of everyday issues that are best addressed by seeking help from an expert.

1. Overheating and High Temperatures

Electric motors will naturally generate heat during operation and this is a common side-effect that should not cause alarm. But, while some heat emission is natural, excessive overheating can occur and even cause damage in addition to deterioration of the components that are housed within the motor itself.

What most people don’t know is that even a couple of extra degrees of heat inside the motor can be enough to begin wearing away some of the important elements of your motor. Examples of this could include parts like the bearings and the rotor. The key to reducing your risk of unexpected motor failure is to check regularly for operational overloads.

2. Power Surges

All electric devices require a specific amount of power to function properly, and this is no exception when it comes to electric motors. But if the amount of energy a device amasses ends up exceeding the limit for the specific device or motor, then there is a high probability that the device could malfunction. This is often called a power surge. To prevent this, many organizations will install variable speed drives to mitigate the damage of any unexpected power surges.

If your electric motor doesn’t have variable speed drives pre-installed, then you should consider speaking to an expert about your options.

3. Bearing Wear and Damage

Bearings are common yet often overlooked components that are fundamental to the functioning of an electric motor. Though small, if one of these bearings fails, it can lead to a host of problems that can include overheating, inadequate lubrication, and increased drag. Issues with bearings can occur for multiple reasons, with some of the most common ones including misalignment within the motor, excessive load management, and an incorrect fit.

According to experts, up to 13% of all failures in electric motors are a result of bearing failure. To pinpoint signs of bearing damage or failure early on, you check for excessive vibration in the motor. This is a great way to assess bearing damage before they have a significant impact on the overall performance of your electric motor.

4. Exposure to Moisture and Humidity

Electrical machinery and any water or exposure to water doesn’t mix. And the tough part is that it’s difficult to prevent any kind of moisture or humidity from building up in your work environment. Water (and increased exposure to to water) can damage the insulation of your electrical motor, which in turn reduces the overall lifespan of the motor.

Therefore, it’s important to look for a place that’s warm and dry to store your motor. Installing humidity-monitoring devices can help you stay notified on the environment conditions, while humidity control devices can aid in keeping the humidity levels low, thus helping to reduce the long-term risk of damage and corrosion caused by water or humidity.

5. Harmonic Distortion

Harmonics, which are electric voltages and currents in a system, can be a significant problem when it comes to your electrical system. These issues refer to any unwanted sources of high-frequency AC volts that might disrupt the performance of the motor. Because the motor cannot use this excess energy effectively, it’s distributed to the windings and bearings, which causes internal energy losses.

Over time, harmonic distortion can diminish the insulation performance of the windings within the machine, which can make your motor more susceptible to a breakdown in performance. You can reduce harmonic distortion by installing a variable frequency drive, or you can try using a filter to help keep harmonic distortion damage to a minimum.

6. Contamination and Corrosion

Contamination is also a common problem when it comes to your motor maintenance. Contaminants are everywhere, and appear in the form of dirt, dust, and abrasive substances. Unfortunately, when these substances enter the internal parts of the motor, they can cause additional corrosion and create wear over time.

The good news is that you can prevent contamination and corrosion by implementing safe working standards and using lubricants within the machine itself. It is also important to remind your engineers to keep their work spaces clean, and also take additional steps to position the motor away from machines that might contribute to air contamination.

Take the Time to Protect Your Electric Motor

Ultimately, there are many elements and contributing factors that can cause disruption within an electric motor or hinder its performance. The key to keeping your machine running at top performance for as long as possible is to ensure you practice long-term preventative maintenance with help from our team of professionals at Sloan Electric.

With careful management and evaluation, our professionals can help you stay on top of any potential issues to help keep your electric motor downtime to a minimum.

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