Furnace Fiascos Avoided

Friction And Your AC

Friction is one of the most damaging things that can occur in your outdoor AC unit. Understanding how it occurs and what it affects can help you perform the proper maintenance to prevent friction.

Where Friction Occurs

There are several moving parts in the outdoor portion of your air conditioner. Most of these are situated in the fan blower assembly. This consists of the fan motor, the impeller shaft, and the fan blade itself.

The motor is inside a protective housing, which helps keep out debris to protect both the components and the quality of the lubrication. The motor requires some skill to properly access and service. The impeller shaft connects the motor to the fan blade. This is the part that rotates the fan. Some units may be solely shaft-driven, while others may also have a fan belt that connects the motor to the fan. The fan consists of the blades that rotate and move the air.

Types of Friction Damage

There are direct and indirect damages caused by friction. Direct damage occurs when two parts are rubbing together without lubrication. For example, components inside the motor, including gears, can wear down and become damaged if there is too much friction. The same is true of the impeller shaft, belt, and the fan itself. There are typically bearings present in the fan assembly, which assist with smooth movement. These bearing can become worn out and useless from too much friction.

Indirect damages are a result of the vibrations caused by friction in the moving parts. This type of damage affects parts of the AC that aren't made to move. Hardware that secures the housing and other components can work loose from heavy vibration. Motor mounts may also break. In extreme cases, friction-caused shaking can result in a refrigerant leak or electrical shorts.

Preventative Maintenance

Prevention is the best course of action, so schedule an annual AC tune-up to make sure friction never causes issues in your AC. Your AC tech will begin by cleaning out the unit, which removes the dust and dirt that gums up lubricant and leads to friction damage. They will then perform a full inspection so any developing damage can be found and repaired.

The final step of most tune-ups is a complete lubrication job. All the moving components inside the motor are first lubricated. The shaft is also lubricated, and any belts are inspected, replaced if needed, and lubricated. Finally, the fan bearings are lubricated and the fan itself is oiled for smooth movement.

Contact a local HVAC technician for more information about AC system maintenance.