Fan motor getting noisy and uses sealed bearings with no lube ports

cwatkin

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Model Number
FAS257S2A
Brand
Frigidaire
I hate that everything seems to be made more and more throwaway these days and I guess window AC units, even larger and more costly ones, are basically made to be trashed. I have a couple 25,000 BTU units. Both use the same compressor and fan motor although the model of the units varies slightly and there are minor variances in the controls and cosmetics of the units. I have replaced run capacitors in both units as well when the compressors started to exhibit hard-start problems (humming and tripping breakers, etc.). This solved that problem and these units are both over 10 years old so I am guessing I have met or exceeded their design life, being consumer grade appliances.

The fan motor on one has started to sound somewhat gravelly so I assume that means the bearings are nearing the end of their life. They are sealed with no oil ports. Everything is still working but I figure this thing is going to give it up one of these days. Odds are the sound will just get worse until it stops or I get sick of hearing it. It isn't really anything big right now and isn't even annoying. It is just that I can tell it is getting a tad noisier. Is there anything I can do to extend the life of this motor? It has been suggested that I take a hyperdermic needle and inject a small quantity of oil through the bearing seals. I could access one bearing but the other would pretty much require disassembly of the entire unit to access.

It looks like a new fan motor would cost about half of a new unit. There is no way I would do this, especially on a unit this old, considering something else might not be far behind. I would also be concerned about damaging something else, especially with all the plastic parts now old and brittle.

I am assuming the answer everyone will give me is to just run the unit until failure and then replace it. Should I keep any spare parts for the other unit when it dies or just scrap the entire thing? I figure I am best to just start over new if the fan motor stops.

Conor
 

Jake

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Hi Conor ,

Yes, that motor is over $300 here: FAS257S2A Parts

Unfortunately, there's no where to lube it.

It has been suggested that I take a hypodermic needle and inject a small quantity of oil through the bearing seals. I could access one bearing
I've never heard of that, but its worth a try.:)

It that doesn't lube it nothing will, I'd just scrap it and get a new window A/C.

Jake
 

cwatkin

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MO
Thanks. I figured that would be the answer but wanted to check with those who know more than I do. I actually couldn't hear it growl at all today but we all know it will eventually return. I figure I will run it until the sound gets annoying or I can tell it is really about done for.

The good news is that I have greatly improved the insulation in my place and now feel I could get by with a far smaller unit. I think going down in size is a good idea as I can tell this thing is cycling on and off way more often than it should as it has become oversized with the improvement in the insulation. I have a couple 5000btu units sitting around as spares and will put one of those in and see if that can do it but suspect I will need something at least twice that big.

I work on electronics for a living and see just how disposable those are made these days. Nothing is made to be repaired these days.

Thanks again,

Conor
 

Dan O.

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Model: FAS257S2A
There should be another 2 characters at the end of the model number. eg. FAS257S2A__ __
The various models use at least 2 different motors. The complete model number is needed to determine which exact part is used.

Also, are there any identification numbers on the motor itself? That a/c unit may have been made by a 3rd party. It might be possible to source a replacement motor more directly from the actual manufacture and cut out the middle man, possibly saving some $$$. Post any numbering (or a pic of any labels) on the motor and we'll see if there might be an alternate supplier for it before you give up on repair.

Dan O.
 

cwatkin

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MO
It is still actually running and seems to have quieted down with more use. I am not going to complain but figure the unit is nearing the end of its life overall.

I figure I will run the motor to failure and look into a repair at this time. I also figure that the compressor could go at any time due to the age. I also read that the coils tend to corrode and leak refrigerant after a while. I can see corrosion on the coils when I slide the unit open to clean it. These things are junk once the sealed system is broken as they cost more to fix than they are worth. I have a couple buddies in the HVACR business who don't even want to work on them. Half the time is is someone with the $99 Wal-Mart 5000btu unit wanting to get it fixed. He charges more than that just to look at it. I understand where they are coming from but the units I have cost $600 each so I am at least willing to look at repairing them. I will get the motor part number the next time I open it up for a cleaning.

What is the average life of a modern window AC unit? It seems like you see 40 year old ones all beat to hell that still work but the new ones don't last. I am grateful these still run. The run capacitor has been replaced in one once and the other twice.

Conor
 

Dan O.

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cwatkin said:
I also read that the coils tend to corrode and leak refrigerant after a while.
That never happens. The refrigerant lines are all copper and will likely never leak unless physically broken. The evaporator and condenser fins are aluminum and nothing serious happens to them except getting bent... again by physical force.

cwatkin said:
I also figure that the compressor could go at any time due to the age.
And it could last another 10+ years.

cwatkin said:
I have a couple buddies in the HVACR business who don't even want to work on them. Half the time is is someone with the $99 Wal-Mart 5000btu unit
The cheap, snap-together plastic a/c's are a pain to work on. That's NOT what you have. You have a 25,000 BTU model which would be $600-$900+ to replace. It should be easy enough to service when necessary (except for its weight) and most repairs (including a $300 motor) would likely be cost effective.

I can see corrosion on the coils when I slide the unit open to clean it.
Are you sure it isn't dirt that needs to be cleaned? But even if some of the aluminum fins are corroding, a very large section would need to be damaged (or totally missing!) before any noticble effect would be felt.

The most bennificial thing you can do to keep such units running is a thorough cleaning of the condenser coil (with aluminum cleaner and/or steam) at least every 2 years (or every year if you live in a high traffic or polluted area), making sure it is installed properly with none of its vents blocked and problems looked into in a timely fashion and not left to fester.

JMO
 
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cwatkin

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That is good to know that the lines do not corrode through. It just looks bad. Yeah, the number of fins compromised is a tiny percentage and am sure it makes no difference in the efficiency or cooling ability. All the corrosion is around the edges of the unit where the coil/fins touch the steel body of the unit.

The unit I have would cost me $500-650 (normally about $600) before tax if I were to replace it. It was purchased at Lowes and I do see the modern equivalent on sale from time to time, usually at the beginning or end of the season. In having it apart, I don't think this one is meant to be serviced. There are no fill or vacuum ports, just tubing that has been brazed shut or whatever after it was filled. I guess this is good and bad. It is less likely to leak but there is no way to refill it.

The insides are either white styrofoam insulation or that cheap brittle plastic they use in lots of appliances. The plastic has yellowed and gotten brittle with age and exposure to heat. I broke some of this and repaired it with Gorilla tape and glue while I had it apart once. I really think getting it apart to service it might do more harm than good. The dual-shafted fan motor is going to involve a complex disassembly of the unit and lots of this cheap plastic and foam will need to come out.

Remember that the reason this might be a concern is there are no lube ports on the motor bearings. Nothing about this unit seems to suggest it is easily repairable or meant to be serviced.

For whatever reason it is as quiet as can be right now. I am starting to wonder if my initial concerns were all about nothing.

That being said, I am in the repair business myself (electronics/computers) so I understand how it works. Most of the stuff I work on his a design life of 3-5 years and putting much money into anything older is false-economy. I also see the Wal-Mart and black Friday models. They are complete junk and just meant to be trashed. It is too bad that otherwise reputable companies prostitute themselves out and produce this crap. People may have their issues with Apple but they are the only one that doesn't do this.

I am starting to think my concerns are all about nothing at this point but will post back if things change. Do you think it is still worth spending half the cost of a new unit on a 10 year old model? I will definitely re-evaluate if/when there is a failure.

I also wonder about replacement of capacitors as preemptive maintenance. The HVAC guys I know do it about every 5 years even if they test good. Again, this is a $10-15 part and an easy swap, even on my AC units.

Thanks,

Conor
 

Dan O.

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cwatkin said:
I don't think this one is meant to be serviced. There are no fill or vacuum ports, just tubing that has been brazed shut or whatever after it was filled. I guess this is good and bad. It is less likely to leak but there is no way to refill it.
That's the way all domestic refrigeration appliances are. They use 'sealed refrigeration systems’. There should be no reason to "refill" anything unless there's a hole or the compressor fails and contaminates it. The refrigerant never wears out or gets used up. In the latter case the refrigeration system has to be cut open anyway to replace the compressor.


cwatkin said:
Do you think it is still worth spending half the cost of a new unit on a 10 year old model?
That's borderline when I suggest consumers consider replacing it and if it is in general disrepair, it swings it more so. But I'm pretty confident a replacement motor can be had for much less than Frigidaire's retail price which would swing the balance the other way... except for its actual condition.

cwatkin said:
I also wonder about replacement of capacitors as preemptive maintenance. The HVAC guys I know do it about every 5 years even if they test good.
I think that's ridiculous! In my experience capacitors don't fail often enough to justify that. They're most likely just covering their ass not having to come back for a recheck. The customer is paying for it anyway.

I know one appliance company that any time a refrigerator had a defrost problem they would replace all the components in the defrost system regardless of which one actually failed. They called it a "defrost kit". That way if any of the other components were to fail at some time in the future after their service, they wouldn't have to come back and do the job again for free (ie. under their warranty). It didn't matter that a second component failure is rare, the consumer is paying for the unnecessary parts anyway. In fact it's better for their company, they make more commission selling more parts! Worse for the consumer that has to pay more... unnecessarily.

JMO

Dan O.
 
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cwatkin

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I see. I will evaluate the thing when/if the fan motor fails. The compressor might give it up first for all I know so am not going to look into it too much until there is an issue. My main concern would be damaging all the old and cheap plastic that is now quite brittle. I think this is all fine until it is disturbed by a repair.

So far it seems to be working like a champ and the noise is staying away. I wonder what the sound was when I first turned it on this year??? I have two of these and I ran this one alone on a hot day just to give it a good test while I was home. It ran nonstop and didn't seem stressed.

I run into the "kits" with commercial laser printers. They come with all kinds of gears and such that don't really ever wear out. You are supposed to replace them because the gears "wear into each other". I see this with some things like automotive applications but not these printers. Yes, they come with all kinds of parts when only one or two is really needed. It certainly does cut down on follow-up visits. I do see certain parts fail after a certain period of time so understand this but sometimes the cost to replace everything is as much or more than the device is worth. Electronics have a short life compared to appliances. Nothing is made like it once was.

Older appliances and electronics used to have access panels and were designed to be repaired. The newer stuff is designed to go in the trash and take up landfill space. I was scrapping an old VHS player because the housing was thick cast aluminum so worth money. It had access panels and a nice wiring diagram. I felt bad scrapping it but charities won't even take this older stuff.

Conor

Conor
 

Dan O.

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cwatkin said:
I wonder what the sound was when I first turned it on this year?
Moisture can settle in bearings when not used for an extended period and 'stiffen' them up.

Giving the front blower wheel a spin by hand before starting the unit for the first time in a year can take some of the stress off the motor when starting up after being idle for a season.

Dan O.
 

cwatkin

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Would it be a good idea to maybe turn these things on for a few minutes in the winter just to keep the bearings oiled? Does the oil run down to the lowest part of the bearing, leaving the upper parts unprotected?

I figure the compressor is fully sealed so that isn't a concern like in the olden days. Just run the fan a few minutes and then turn it off. I don't see the need to run the compressor but guess that wouldn't be a big deal for just a few minutes.

Conor
 

Dan O.

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cwatkin said:
Would it be a good idea to maybe turn these things on for a few minutes in the winter just to keep the bearings oiled?
I don't know anyone that does that but it might not hurt. Just a quick spin before starting the first time helps to free most tightness. I think it's more external moisture on the shaft that can tighten the fit during long pauses.

Does the oil run down to the lowest part of the bearing, leaving the upper parts unprotected?
There might not even be bearings, just bushings, which are porous like a sponge holding oil saturated within the material structure. I don't know that it can travel far but that might be a question for a motor expert or motor rebuilder.

cwatkin said:
I don't see the need to run the compressor but guess that wouldn't be a big deal for just a few minutes.
I don't think it would hurt but I don't know it is absolutely necessary.

Dan O.
 
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