Troubleshooting an Electric Heater: Fan Doesn't Work

The one positive thing about having an electric heater’s fan not working is that you can focus your attention exclusively on the heater’s motor system, leaving the power system and heating elements alone.  The electric heater’s motor system is built like almost every other motor and can be looked at for common problems. There are 4 common problems that you can look for when determining how the motor is broken. Again, you can at least be content knowing that the problem must reside in the motor, and that if you cannot find the problem, an electrician will.

Vacuuming Around the Fan

Sometimes, the fan may fail to work simply because the motor or the surrounding parts are too dusty. The first thing you will want to do when troubleshooting the motor is to grab a vacuum and clean up all of the dust in and around the motor, making sure you clean the motor’s power connection especially well. You will want to disassemble the motor and clean as many individual pieces as possible.  Vacuuming will ensure that the power connection or the mechanical functioning of the motor isn’t being inhibited by such minor nuisances.

Check the Motor’s Brushes-or Any Other Moving Mechanical Parts

The clever thing about motors is that almost all of them (but especially heater motors) have ways of letting us know when there is an internal problem that’s causing damage. For example, the motor’s brushes (which attract an electric magnetism that pulls a shaft back and forth) may actually be brushing up against something they shouldn’t be, causing unnecessary friction.

Test out and examine the individual parts. Start out with the gears on the motor shaft. If they are particularly loose, check the bearings to make sure they aren’t worn out or misaligned. Next, examine the brushes. If you see sparks coming from them as the motor is moving, then it is a sign that the brushes are damaged and need to be replaced. Then, check to make sure the motor has enough oil and doesn’t smell bad. The motor might not work if it’s in need of lubrication.

Other minor pieces include the windings and the ventilation. You will know that something’s wrong with the windings there is a nasty acrid odor. The ventilation will likely be blocked or otherwise damaged if the motor is too hot to touch while it is running.

Test the Motor’s Electric Continuity

Finally, in order to make fully sure that the motor does not have a connection problem with the electricity, you will want to use a multimeter to test the electric connection’s ability to carry a charge from point A to point B.  Attach one of the multimeter’s probes to the motor’s common lead and test the motor for its electrical resistance. If the electric resistance is zero or infinite, it means that there is a short circuit and that the motor is not connected properly.