Common Causes of Electric Motor Failure

Common Causes of Electric Motor Failure

All electric motors have a set life span, but some come to a premature end. Electric motors rely on proper maintenance. Unmaintained electric motors are more likely to break down, requiring costly repairs or replacements.

Learning about the different causes of electric motor failure and how you can prevent them from happening helps you increase your motors’ service life. Learn more about the various causes of motor failure below and what you can do to stop it.

Why Do Electric Motors Fail?

There are many reasons electric motors fail, all of which can cause downtime and damage your electrical system, affecting your bottom line. Below are the most common causes of electric motor failures and how you can prevent them from happening.

1. Electrical Overload

Electricity can be challenging to work with, and industrial equipment requires a lot of power to function. However, it’s essential to be aware of the potential for electrical overload that can cause electric motor failure. 

Electrical overloads, also called overcurrent, occur when electric motors use more current than they are capable of withstanding. Often, electrical overloads result from excessive currents within the motor windings that the motor can’t carry safely or efficiently. If there is a low supply voltage, the motor will draw in a higher electrical current to maintain the torque, causing the system to overload.

Electrical overloads can degrade the internal components and decrease your electrical motor’s efficiency, impacting your work and wallet. You can prevent electrical overload by installing protection to detect overcurrents and stop the electrical supply.

2. Moisture Damage

Water is a common enemy of electricity, so it makes sense that moisture can cause electric motors to fail. Even the toughest electric motors can break down after water exposure. Maintaining adequate insulation in your workplace is essential to prevent moisture from seeping in and damaging your electrical equipment.

One of the most significant moisture threats is humidity, especially for facilities located in humid areas. You can help fight humidity by keeping your workplace cool. Check to ensure your workplace is dry, and if you have any inactive motors for long periods, keep them warm. If unused motors get cold, they can develop moisture from the humidity. Even when the motors are running, you should keep the relative humidity below 80% to keep water from building up.

3. Overheating

If your electric motors overheat for any reason, it can create numerous performance issues, including electric motor failure. Overheating can occur when electric motors attempt to run in high-heat environments, which can reduce the heat conduction rate, damaging your electric motor significantly.

You can prevent overheating by using the proper ventilation and cooling system where your motors operate. The ventilation system will be a backup if your cooling system fails. You can also keep your working environment cool to stop your motors from overheating, including running the air conditioning or allowing for adequate airflow.

4. Improper Lubrication

Over- or under-lubrication can cause unnecessary damage to electric motors and make them fail prematurely. Too much lubrication can lead to overheating and create excess grease that forces your motor to work harder and consume more energy than necessary. Too little lubrication can cause excessive friction resulting in premature bearing failure.

It’s essential to understand how much lubrication your electric motors require. You’ll want to consider how often you’ll need to lubricate your motors and any contaminants they might encounter while they operate. A properly maintained system is more likely to avoid failures. 

5. Dirt and Contaminants

Dirt and other contaminants are leading causes of electric motor failure. Dirt can block the cooling vents that prevent overheating and allow motor temperatures to rise. Pollutants can also create issues with the insulating valve of the winding insulation if it rests on the motor windings. As a result, the electric motor can fail. Contaminants and pollutants can also combine with the moisture in the air, forming corrosive substances that can affect the life span of your motor.

It’s essential to protect your electric motors from dirt and other contaminants. You can use shielding devices to prevent dirt and pollutants from invading your motors. You can also regularly clean your fixtures, tools and work areas to prevent dirt and particle buildup. Depending on your work area, it may also be a good idea to position your electric motors away from other machinery that produces contaminants, such as grinding machines.

6. Vibration

Motor vibration can create numerous issues with your electric motor, eventually leading to failure. Motor vibration may result from the motor’s position on an unstable or uneven surface, allowing excessive movement. Excessive vibration can also happen due to underlying issues with your electric motor, including corrosion, loose bearings or improper alignment.

You can remedy this issue by checking your electric motor frequently for vibrations or unnecessary movement. Motor analysis tools allow you to determine how much your electric motor is vibrating. It’s also essential to place your motors on a flat, stable surface. If vibration continues, you should check your motor for signs of damage or wear and tear, such as corrosion. If you can’t identify the source of the vibration, you can always contact a professional for help.

7. Low Resistance

Low resistance is a common cause of electric motor failures. Low resistance usually occurs when corrosion, damage or overheating cause the winding insulation to degrade. The motor windings and conductors have insufficient isolation, leading to short circuits and leaks, which contribute to motor failure.

You can remedy low resistance by regularly inspecting your insulation for signs of wear. If you find signs of damage, you should replace your insulation as soon as possible to prevent low resistance.

Trust Industrial Electrical Company for All Your Electrical Needs

Trust Industrial Electrical Company for All Your Electrical Needs

We understand electrical motors are essential to your business, so we’ve created various industrial electrical services to help you prevent electric motor failure. We are an Electrical Contractor and Rotating Equipment Specialist based out of Modesto California with years of experience servicing the industrial and mechanical industry in Northern California to Western Nevada. Some of our services include electrical contracting, generator services, industrial field services and training.

We can help your facility reach peak efficiency, reducing downtime and improving your bottom line. We offer everything from routine maintenance to emergency services to ensure you can continue to perform. Contact us today to learn how we can help make a difference in your work!

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Our motor shop is located right in the Central Valley and can complete any job from total welding services to custom modifications. To learn more about our services, classes and products, contact us online today.

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