Troubleshooting an Overheated Electrical Motor

by Wanda Thibodeaux

Voltage

Electric motors are designed to run on specific voltages. If you put too much voltage through the motor, the circuitry and wiring will be damaged. This is due to the fact that the electricity really is energy, and one form of energy is heat. Check to see if there are any melted wires, or if the motor circuits appear blackened or fused together. Make sure the voltage for the motor is being properly applied.

Load

Electric motors are built to to transfer a certain amount of energy to the load (e.g., a wheel). If your motor works slowly or grinds, make sure that you are not putting excessive requirements on the motor by making it transfer more energy than it is capable of transferring.

Shorts

The wires and contact points in electric motors sometimes break or become weak. This causes the motor to try to operate on less than optimal voltage, which strains the parts of the motor. The result is overheating and burnout. Check to see if the wires have any bare points, or if there is corrosion on the contacts. If needed, replace the wires and clean the corrosion off with a wire brush or basic (non-acidic) solution that will reduce oxidization.

Poor Insulation

Electrical wiring in an electric motor must have proper insulation to work correctly, because poor insulation causes shorts and heat transfer. Look for any insulated parts that seem to have cracked, incomplete or otherwise compromised insulation, and replace the parts or the insulation.

Dirt

Dirt, dust and other contaminants can build up on the circuits, wiring and parts of the electrical motor. This can cause the connections between the motor and the electrical source to function inefficiently. They also can block heat vents and fans that are meant to cool the motor. Check to see that the motor isn't dirty, and if it is, disconnect the power source from the motor and clean it out.

About the Author

Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website, Takingdictation.com, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.