Top 5 Troubleshooting Issues for Blower Systems
Even with perfect maintenance and perfect conditions, a blower system can have its ups and downs. Here are five of the most common issues experienced in the field. Before doing any inspection, make sure to turn the power off and wait for the unit to stop completely.
This could be from rust in the blower impeller chamber, the motor winding could be damaged, or there could be improper wiring connections within the motor itself.
If there’s rust in the blower, then it’s time for a good cleaning. Turn off the power, remove it from the system, and clean the impeller chamber. Reminder: whenever a blower is disassembled, whether for a deep clean or an inspection, manufacturers always recommend that the bearings, seals, and gaskets be replaced. This is to ensure optimum reassembly and efficiency. Overhaul kits for each size and line of blower are available (there are exceptions, of course, for blowers that are obsolete or very old).
If the motor winding is damaged, a qualified electrician should inspect the motor for damage and an assessment can go from there. This goes for having improper wiring connections within the motor itself. When in doubt, call the manufacturer of your blower system to see if they have a cut sheet on the motor or if they can get some insight from the motor manufacturer.
Cause #2: No airflow.
A few probable causes include: broken belts or broken drive coupling, blower isn’t turning, or a pipe leak.
The most obvious solution for broken belts or a broken drive coupling is to simply replace it. But make sure that with belts the tensioning is correct. Belts that are too tightly strung or too loosely strung can snap or flap around and cause the pulleys to not rotate, hence the lack of air flow.
If the blower isn’t turning, double check your check valve to see if it’s missing or if it’s failed. Your check valve is designed to allow air to flow in one singular direction, not both. If it’s missing or not working properly, that can be a contributing factor.
A pipe leak could mean a loose connection somewhere or that a gasket needs to be replaced. Double check all your connections and if your gaskets haven’t been changed in a long while, a replacement may be in your future.
Any number of things could cause this issue from a loose mounting, to bolts failure, loose sheaves in the v-belt drive, foundation base is too loose, insufficient v-belt tension. The list goes on.
When your system is vibrating, turn off the power and inspect all of the bolts, double check the foundation base, and check the tension on the v-belt drive. If the sheaves on the v-belt drive are loose then make sure they are installed according to your O&M manual and make sure your blower is running at the correct speed. If you no longer have that manual, call the manufacturer of your system and they should be able to provide it. Double check the tensioning of the v-belts on the v-belt drive. As noted before, if they’re too loose or too tight then they can flap around aimlessly or snap; not only does this cause vibration but it can prevent airflow all together.
Cause #4: Excessive Blower Temperature
Each blower has a temperature minimum and maximum. If it operates outside those restrictions, then your efficiency goes down and you run the risk of ruining the blower. As with the other common problems, this one is caused by any number of things: too much oil in the gear case, too low operating speed, dirty air filter, worn impeller, inlet air flow restricted.
If your blower has too much oil in the gear case, make sure the unit has come to a complete stop and then drain the oil level to the specified amount. Side note, if your blower is low on oil or has been running with that batch of oil for longer than the recommended hours, a full oil flush to replace the old oil will aid in lengthening the lifetime of your blower. If you’re transitioning from a mineral based oil to a synthetic or vice versa, make sure that the original oil has not only fully drained but also that the new oil flushes out the old oil completely. When these oils mix in a running blower, their formulas break down which causes damage to the blower.
If your blower is operating at too low of a speed, it will create inefficient conditions and cause your blower to work harder than if it ran at optimal speed for the system’s design. Increase the blower speed according to the system design and that should alleviate temperature.
A dirty air filter is probably the simplest fix. Assessing how quickly you go through replacement filter elements can give you a heads up on your future maintenance scheduling.
A worn impeller typically needs replacing with new impellers. If you believe that your blower has impeller issues, make sure to have your blower inspected by a certified technician. This guarantees that upon inspection and replacement of impellers, that all of your bearings, seals, and gaskets for the blower will be replaced with new ones.
If your inlet air flow is restricted, double check for any obstructions or a closed valve like your check valve. Obstructions not only restrict air flow but they also cause heat to build in parts of the blower and system where they shouldn’t.
Cause #5: Lubrication Loss
Some leaking is common. But excessive loss of lubrication (oil on the floor/under the blower) or a consistent drip is not good. Similar to a blower overheating, there could be too much oil in the blower. There could also be a worn seal, loose oil cover, drain plug or line loose, a gasket could be worn, or the head plate or gear case/drive cover vents could be plugged.
To check for worn seals, loose covers, worn gaskets, etc. this may require a complete tear down of the blower and replacement of those seals, bearings, and gaskets. Overhaul kits are available (as mentioned previously) and they include each of these necessary parts. The O&M manual for the blower itself often gives a clear walk through on how to tear down, clean, and rebuild a blower. When in doubt, have your blower inspected by a certified technician. This will ensure that your blower is thoroughly inspected. Should your blower be in good enough condition to be rebuilt, the technician has the tools and parts necessary for proper cleaning and rebuilding of the unit.
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