Fan Blade Shroud Depth

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When a system has abnormally high head pressure (high condensing temperature over ambient) and compression ratio, one of the easiest things to look for is a dirty condenser coil and more often than not, that will be the cause.


There is another category of issues that can cause high condensing temperature (high head pressure) that result from improper practices rather than dirt and grime.

When a tech comes across a failed condensing fan motor or a damaged blade they will often go to their van and see what they have as a “universal” replacement part. I don’t have an issue with using aftermarket repair parts in some cases but you need to make sure that the part you are using will operate properly without sacrificing capacity, efficiency and longevity.

Often when using aftermarket parts a tech may be sacrificing one or more of these things and that can lead to issues.

When replacing a fan blade you need to ensure –

  1. The pitch is a match
  2. The number of blades is a match
  3. The Diameter is a match

If you change the pitch you will also need to change the # of blade and vice versa to end up with the same CFM airflow output which can be very tough to determine in the field.

The diameter really cannot change or you won’t have the proper gap between the blade edge and the shroud (Usually 1/2″ – 1″) which can greatly impact air movement.

When replacing a motor you need to ensure –

  1. The RPM (# of poles)  matches
  2. Voltage and phrasing matches
  3. The HP is the same or greater
  4. The physical size will allow proper installation

In some cases, the technical specs may work but the motor body may be deeper. When this happens you need to make sure that the fan blade can still sit high enough in the fan shroud for proper movement of air. In many cases the blade/shroud are designed so that the middle/center of the blade matches up with the bottom of the fan shroud (cowling) and if it isn’t it can decrease airflow.

This issue comes into play often in cases where a factory motor fails on smaller tonnage residential units with a less than 1/4 HP motor. In these cases when you replace the factory motor with a universal motor the larger physical depth of the motor and sometimes the width can result in less than designed airflow. Make sure when replacing the motor that you are still able to place the motor blade in the same position in relation to the blade to ensure proper air flow/condensing temperature.

Sometimes you will come across systems that are running higher head pressure than they should be. In these cases you will want to check and make sure the motor HP and RPM are correct and that the blade is properly sized and positioned in the shroud.

As always, being attentive is key to finding issues, even issues caused by others

— Bryan


One comment

  1. Avatar Gary Reecher says:

    Fan depth is important. Replacing a 1/5 HP fan motor with a 1/3 HP permanently is going to change the fan depth permanently.

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