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Tom
Tom, HVAC Technician
Category: HVAC
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Experience:  16+yrs HVAC/R service. Residential Commerical Industrial
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My air handler on the gas furnance located in my attic vibrated

Resolved Question:

My air handler on the gas furnance located in my attic vibrated so badly that the flex gas line cracked and I had to have the gas value closed because of the gas leak. Now the unit won't even turn on when I lower the AC temp on the thermostat without vibrating the doors off.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: HVAC
Expert:  Tom replied 3 years ago.

Tom :

Sorry you're having trouble. How often do you change your furnace filter?

Tom :

(and is the filter located in the attic unit?)

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

I don't know that I ever have, I replace the filters on the three return air ducts in the house

Tom :

Ok....

Tom :

I"ve seen dirty filters come out and get sucked into the blower wheel on the fan.

Tom :

I'm wondering if there is a filter located in the unit....(or was)..

Tom :

I would shut the power off and remove the cover to the blower compartment and inspect there first...

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

where would i find one

Tom :

Even a bad fan bearing won't make them shake that bad...

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

ok, do you wont me to go look right now?

Tom :

it would have to be a filter or perhaps a piece of insulation from the inside of the unit sucked into the blower wheel....worst case scenario...the blower wheel came apart..which I"ve seen happen but that's pretty rare.

Tom :

If you like..I"ll be around here for awhile if you want to have a look and reply back.

Tom :

Look for a door or 'hatch' on the ductwork leading to the blower compartment where the filter would slide in.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

how do i turn the power off? is it the "light switches" located on a beam next to the units

Tom :

No guarantee there is one...since you have them at the returns...but it's worth checking.Otherwise look for something stuck in the blower wheel.

Tom :

More than likely. If there are wires from the light switch to the unit. Also...set your thermostat to 'off' and nothing should come on.

Tom :

There is generally a door switch also..that shuts everything down when your open it..but you cannot be too safe.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

can't really tell anything, I was able to turn the blades on the blower judt fine

Tom :

Did the actual blower motor feel like it's mounting was loose or anything?

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

i tried to juggle it but everything seemd pretty solid

Tom :

Ok...there are two inlets to the blower...

Tom :

the motor side and the opposite motor side...it's usually cramped in there...but if you can reach in and feel around..something has to be in there.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

ok i'll try

Tom :

OR the blower wheel itself could be loose on the shaft. It may require pulling the blower unit out...which is not always a fun job.

Tom :

Did you take a flashlight?

Tom :

I can't imagine it shaking that bad without something being stuck in the wheel or the wheel itself being loose.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

nothing as far as i could tell, and i reched in both sides pretty good, when i spin the fans, there is no noise; how about the motor thst is closer over by the gas line that broke, is that apossibility?

Tom :

Were you running heat?

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

no, AC

Tom :

That is the exhaust motor for the furnace and only runs when the heat is on.

Tom :

Do you have everything back together?

Tom :

Something is amiss with your main blower. Did you notice if there is a door switch?

Tom :

You may have to leave the panel off and bump the power and watch it...just give it a bump to get it shaking a little ... maybe there is a broken motor mount or something we're not seeing.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

ok i'll put the cover back on the blower side, then do want me to power it back on and turn down the ac to watch what happens?

Tom :

Do this..

Tom :

Turn a/c off......turn fan to 'on' at the thermostat...

Tom :

leave the side cover off...and just bump the power switch momentarily to get it spinning..if it starts to shake you can turn it right off.

Tom :

Was there a door switch on the panel you took off?

Tom :

If so..you can just push the door switch in and momentarily to spin the blower under it's own power...I'm thinking if you see it start to spin and vibrate you may be able to see something that is loose that we cannot see with the covers on.

Tom :

IF you're not comfortable trying this I understand..and you should get assistance.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

there is a door button that seems to power it on when the panel is put back, do you want me to take that pannel off and push the button mannually?

Tom :

yes...and observe what happens....if it starts shaking too much simply let off the button and it will turn it off...

Tom :

I would just give it a couple of quick bumps before holding it down very long

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

it shakes and makes a noise

Tom :

right....but maybe you can see why it's shaking...something has to be very loose

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

i just cant see up in there with the top and bottom cover permanently afied

Tom :

Correct...which is why I'm wondering if you can try it with the covers off so you can see the blower...does that make sense?

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

i did take the side covers off, but i'll i see is the outside of the blower housing. the top and bottom of the unit is screwed to some metal tethers to hang the unit so I can't remove them

Tom :

I understand....but you can see the blower motor, yes?

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

the top of it but just barely, mostly just see the housing

Tom :

Ok..I understand....It may require having the blower unit removed from the furnace to find out exactly what's going on....sorry.

Tom :

It has to be something in the wheel....the blower wheel broken...or loose on the motor shaft...or a really bad motor bearing...but even with a bad bearing they usually don't vibrate like that.

Tom :

Something is loose or broken..that's for sure.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

how much shouls it cost just to have a new blower motor put in

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

or should i try to replace it myself?

Tom :

Probably on the order of $250 or so. Give or take a little.

Tom :

My advice on changing the blower...if you've never done one...it may not be the time to start.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

is the blower motor and the fan in the housing all one piece or is it $250 just for the new motor?

Tom :

Most replacement motors are not 100% identical..you run into differences in wiring..shaft length..blower wheels that don't want to come off the shaft...etc. For someone that does it alot..not too bad...

Tom :

Just a motor.

Tom :

Usually a motor will run around !00 - 150 and i'm being a little conservative on the $100 for labor.

Tom :

If you're patient..and not in a hurry you can probably do it...just know they can be plenty frustrating sometimes...Golden rule...never hit the shaft with a hammer to try and get it apart...it will mushroom and you'll destroy the blower wheel trying to get it off.!

Tom :

If you're fairly mechanically inclined...you can probably do it.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

is the fan unit and housing all seperate? or do the come with the new blower motor?

Tom :

The trick is to determine the root cause of the vibration...I would feel bad if you put a new motor in and it still vibrated.

Tom :

You have the fan housing (the curved tin part)...the blower motor and bracket and the blower wheel itself which is attached to the motor shaft. They are all separate. If you were to purchase the whole assembly you would need to go through a dealer for the brand of unit you are working on...it would be plenty pricey.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

i am fairly mechanically inclined, how long would it take me to puul the motor and fan housing out? won't that save me a littl on labor anyway?

Tom :

I'm not trying to have an odd sense of humour here...you're not missing any small animals like a hamster or anything are you?

Tom :

It's happened.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

no, idon't think we have rats either, don't see droppings anywhere

Tom :

It would save you a ton on labour. I can pull one in about 10 minutes..but i've done them for years. You can probably do it in an hour or so...Again..the key is patience and marking every single wire that has to be disconnected.

Tom :

I had a hamster once that went through our duct and got in the blower wheel....made a hell of a noise!

Tom :

If you start by pulling the blower unit out you may discover something right away that is wrong....

Tom :

Being able to see what's going on is half the battle.

Tom :

The blower wheels are bascially sheetmetal with a steel hub that is crimped into the center so it can bolt to the motor shaft. I've seen those come loose from the blower wheel..can cause massive vibration.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

ok that sounds like a potential culprit

Tom :

You may as well pull it out...sounds like it's going to have to come out sooner or later if for no other reason...for inspection.

Tom :

A really bad motor bearing will generally cause the motor to run slow...sometimes not start or even sieze up...they almost never cause vibration.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

ok, do i disconnect the wires at the blower unit once i begin to pull it out?

Tom :

The are attached to the motor...you'll need to follow them back to the control board and unplug them there....that is why you need to make perfect notes where each wire goes so you don't have any confusion to deal with when hooking it back up.

Tom :

Of...sometimes guys will just cut them somewhere in the middle and match colors..using splices or wire nuts...not my favorite method because it's another potential for a loose connection. I would make a map of the board and label each wire where it goes.

Tom :

Unhook everything before you begin to remove it that way you don't accidentally pull on a wire and damage the motor or control board with the weight of the thing .

Tom :

Just don't hurry...

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

ok, i may rethink this---it sounds like the motor works, but somehting is loose causing the vibration, so i may just be out some labor for someone else to pull out the motor and may tighten somthing up...does that sound likely?

Tom :

That is a possiblility.

Tom :

Which I cannot spell right at this time of night.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

me neither--what is your best recommendation for me

Tom :

OR...it could be something worn that will require replacing...again the key is in diagnosing the actual problem so you don't end up throwing parts at it.

Tom :

If you feel comfy shutting power off and disconnecting the wires....probably 4 or 5.....usually there is about 4 screws holding the blower in...I would try sliding it out and having a look. You may still find something (who knows what) lodged in the blower wheels. Or you may wiggle everything around and find something loose and tighten it and you're done.

Tom :

If that is the case you've saved money.

Tom :

If you feel you're over your head after that...check with an hvac company and explain the situation.

Tom :

I know what I'd do......but that's just me...you'll have to determine your ability...cash flow and how hot the attic is!

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

ok, i may have to wait til tomorrow to go at it, it is getting late and I am not sure how long it will actually take me--if it is like working on cars, a 1 hour fix can take 2 or more hours...better wait til daylight

Tom :

It is and I would wait.

Tom :

If you work on cars....you can probably fix this..

Tom :

I went into hvac because everyone in my family worked on cars and I swore I'd never do that for a living.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

i do but not for a living, i replaced bearings in my power window motors last weekend...all day

Tom :

Ahhh fun.

Tom :

And nothing says weekend like a bad fuel pump in the gas tank

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

really. ok. will you be on tomorrow? this is my first time using this web service, so i don't know what i need to do next

Tom :

You are welcome to reply back to this post with more questions. I work a 'real' job so I'm not online all the time.

Tom :

I will check in during the day though...and reply if you have questions. If I absolutely know I cannot be online...I will 'opt' out of the question so that someone else who is online can assist you.

Tom :

We have some excellent hvac guys on this site and we help each other out.

Tom :

This entire conversation would be available to them so you would not have to rehash everything.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

ho wdo i continue the posting tomorrow? or do i accept tonights and start a new one

Tom :

I would hold off on the accept and see what happens tomorrow. You've made a deposit...so we know that's good...

Tom :

that way whoever ends up helping you ..myself or someone else..can get the accept. It's ok with me either way...as I said...we help each other out.

JACUSTOMER-akhnr4r6- :

ok i guess i hit "save and exit" and pick this up after work tomorrow. thanbks for all of your help Tom, I really appreciate your insight and helpfulness

Tom :

You're welcome....I use this service for help with my GM cars ... and have had very good luck..just trying to return the favor. Good luck..hope it's simple!

Tom :

Tom

Tom, HVAC Technician
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Satisfied Customers: 770
Experience: 16+yrs HVAC/R service. Residential Commerical Industrial
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