Troubleshoot Your Electric Motor

Opened electric motor isolated on white background

Electric motors can be found in a number of vehicles, vessels, and machines doing different things. Chances are that you have one within 20 feet from you. So, what happens when your electric motor starts showing signs of failure?

Well, your best option is to get it to an expert like but, if you are feeling more DIY, you can attempt to diagnose the problem yourself. Keep in mind that you are working with electricity, so take every precaution possible. If you are not well versed in electronic devices, do not try to fix the problem yourself.

Before You Start

First of all, you need to make sure that the motor is turned off and plugged out. It’s not enough just to flip the switch because electrical devices, motors included, still draw some electricity if they are plugged in, even if they are turned off. Disconnect its power supply, regardless of where it comes from – a battery or the electrical grid in your home.

If you plan to do the check yourself, you will need to make sure that you have a proper work surface as well as the necessary tools and other equipment before you start.

Exterior Check

Before you try to disassemble your motor, you should inspect the outside of it for any potential problems. The first thing you should be looking for is dirt or other debris which can prevent your motor from functioning to its full potential, or at all. Darkening of the outer shell of your motor may indicate that it has been overheating. Finally, any moisture you find on the surface of your motor could be an indication that it is the main cause of your malfunction.


If none of the previous steps told you what the problem is, it’s time to take the motor apart. However, before you start, find the nameplate. It is easy to find, somewhere on the exterior of the motor. It will give you all the info you need to know, including the maximum RPM and voltage of the motor.

The first thing you should look at inside your motor are bearings. If your bearings are misaligned or not connected properly it can impact your motor’s performance. Essentially, try to listen for any sounds of scraping or rubbing when you rotate the rotor. The rotor should move fluidly and noiselessly.

The next thing you should inspect are the windings. This assortment of wires conducts a lot of electricity, so it can get damaged over time. The most likely problem with the windings is a short wire which can trip up the circuit breaker and short circuit your motor.

Specialized Equipment

If you want to check your electric motor, you will need more than just the basic tools like a screwdriver. In order to check the electrical resistance with an ohmmeter. This device will tell you if your motor is short circuiting. The way you do it by hooking an ohmmeter which can output 500V of DC into the motor.

Hooking up the ohmmeter is fairly simple because it has jacks which you can easily plug into your motor. If you don’t know how to use an ohmmeter, you should read the instructions which came with the device thoroughly before you start.

However, the best thing you can do is give your electric motor to professionals. These people have experience with all kinds of malfunctions and problems that affect electric motors. Furthermore, they have all the necessary equipment and they know how to use it.

To contact Propulsion Controls Engineering
1620 Rigel St, San Diego, CA 92113, USA

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