Top 4 Causes Of Electric Motor Failure

By IBT Inc

April 14, 2021

Electrical

Motor Burnout

Did you know that motor-driven equipment accounts for 64 percent of the electricity consumed in the U.S. industrial and commercial sectors? It’s hardly surprising when you think about it most operations run on some type of motor whether it’s a drive fan, pump, compressor, saw, crusher, or conveyor.

As an essential part to many applications, it’s important to regularly take preventive measures to avoid these four common causes of motor failure:

1. Motor Overload

If your motor is drawing excessive current, showing signs of insufficient torque, or overheating, chances are it’s overloaded. An overload often occurs when the motor provides more power than what it was rated for.

how to prevent electric motor failure

2. Short Cycling

Short cycling can occur if the motor is repeatedly turned off and on before it has the chance to cool down. To help avoid this problem, most electric motor manufacturers specify the maximum number, or frequency, of starts for a given motor type.

3. Electrical Supply

A voltage imbalance can result in a motor to overheat. For instance, a three percent voltage imbalance can cause an 18 percent temperature rise in the motor.

For proper motor operation, phase voltage imbalance should be less than one percent. IBT’s Electrical Group Director, Joe Purcell, recommends avoiding motor use if the voltage imbalance is greater than 5 percent.

Single phasing, a voltage unbalance that causes a three-phase motor to only run on two phases, can also result in motor failure. Often hard to detect, single phasing can cause a motor to burn out.

Our Solution: Motor overload, short cycling, and electrical supply issues can be fixed by installing Yaskawa’s variable frequency drive (VFD). According to Purcell, A VFD will protect the life of a motor and help simplify speed control, starting, and stopping. Contact your IBT Sales Rep to learn more.

4. Physical and Environmental Conditions

It’s important that motors be installed to withstand the physical and environmental conditions their operation subjects them to. Consider avoiding these errors when it comes to installing and maintaining your electric motor:

  • Restricted Ventilation: Covering the motor’s enclosure can result in the motor to overheat.
  • Improper Lubrication: Not only can this result in damaged bearings but can also throw grease into windings.
  • Moisture: Condensation can cause rust within an enclosed motor.
  • Vibration, Belt Tension, and Misalignment: All three can shorten the life of a motor if not corrected.
  • High Ambient Temperatures: Consider derating to a lower horsepower if your 40°C motor goes above 104°F. Or, install a motor designed with proper insulation for operation at higher ambient temperatures.

Our Solution: If you’re currently experiencing these issues, IBT can help. Our Industrial Maintenance Technology (IMT) group provides a comprehensive list of maintenance and repair services including vibration analysis, lubrication, and laser alignment. For more information, click the button below.

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