Amana 4 ton condenser blower motor

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I have a 9 yr old Amana 4 ton 12 seer unit on my 9 yr old house in Houston TX. Yes, we use the AC nearly year-round so down here they seem to have a 10-15 year life span from what people tell me.
Mine is having kicking off problems where it stops before the requested amount of cooling. I replaced the computer thermostat with the original manual one and tested to see if the therm was the problem, which it was not. So, then I called a company a neighbor recommended and the tech appeared to be well trained and did many tests, found the systems (upper level was not giving any issue) to both be 2lbs low on coolant gas which he added. He also indicated the blower motor was over-amping and was having trouble starting. He replaced the starter capacitor but it still has trouble starting. He tested for leaks around the evaporator using a sniffer and found none. The house air handlers (is that what they are called?) pressure drop across the evaporator was found to be ok, and other tests he performed.
He recommended cleaning the condenser fins, and replacing the blower motor. The cost for the new blower motor was $500+ including labor. Having purchased a new 1hp 115v TEFC motor for my bandsaw for little over $100, I was wondering how this motor could cost so much to replace. I told them thanks for the good work but I wanted to get another estimate.
FYI - The tech charged us over $300 for the testing, service call and charging of the freon, so I'm not against paying for the work that was performed by a knowledable tech.
FYI part 2: I'm a homeowner, not a HVAC trained tech, but I have extensive experience with various repairs and can easily turn off the power and physically replace the motor. I have re-wired an entire house including 220v appliances, piped in natural gas lines to appliances and water heaters, re-done a house's entire plumbing system (this is also called buying the wrong house to fix up, but that's another story), and more. In my spare time I build furniture and repair cars, so I think I'm able to swap parts now that the diagnostics have been done.
My questions are:
* Is this estimate out of line for replacing the blower motor?
* Where can I get a Amana condenser blower motor for my unit so I can replace it myself?
* I see on Ebay some blower motors for less than $100 (item #170128953740). After searching this group and reading on replacing motors I'm aware of the need for careful matching of direction, size and amp draw. If I can find one that matches the HP, direction, shaft dia and amp rating, wouldn't that work?
* What is the best way to clean the condenser fins? I am planning on turning off the power to the unit and opening it up, spraying a simple green and water solution, letting it soak a minute and then using a garden hose to spray through it from the inside out (reverse flow for my unit).
I can handle the flamers if some of you can provide me good information.
Thanks in advance - Scott
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So the $500 motor replacement also included cleaning the condenser?
I guess it's $500 because the tech knows WHICH motor to purchase and WHERE to purchase it.
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Thanks for the smartalec response, and no, it did not include cleaning. Perhaps someone will provide some useful information relating to my problem. I can (if I can get the guy to answer his phone) have my wife's friend's husband who is a HVAC tech and has his own company to either replace it for me or source the part, but if I can do this w/o bothering him during busy season so much the better. He didn't feel like coming down to diagnose the problem (even when we insisted on paying for it) - which I totally understood given he's on the other end of town 30 miles away.
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Purhaps he didn't feel like doing it for nothing and he knew you'd bitch about his pricing. <g>
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wrote:

Boo Hoo Hoo. You're a tight ass homemoaner and you think it should be free. Whaa-Whaa-Whaa. You say you can easily do it yourself BUT You dont know if what he quoted is "out of line" You dont know where to get an Amana condenser motor You saw a motor for less than $100 on E-bay but dont know if its right You dont know how to clean a condenser You say you can handle the flamers but you get pissy with them You replace the thermostat thinking that was your problem You want to replace your motor with a band saw motor Your wifes friends husband wont even call you back because you are such a POS PITA! You're a whiner. If it were so easy we would all be rocket scientists. Now go away. Bubba
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Just the response I expected having trolled through this group! (GRIN) Go back to watching the bug zapper Bubba, if you're qualified to do that!
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Very funny.... His system is most likely running in top shape. Mine is too. Maybe if you call the first company back, they won't charge you a second service call to replace you motor and give you a warranty on it. If you go out and DIY, there is no warranty, and there is no returning of electrical parts. You can get it done by a *competent*, licensed, insured, professionally trained, HVAC techncian, OR you can get it done cheap..... its you choice. We have to deal with cheap assed homeowners and landlords on a daily basis, we have to show them every time why they pay us to do the job right. There is a reason that your tech charges what he does.
If you wanna get pissy, you will get dropped into the killfile as so many have before you. Your not special, you're just another cheap SOB wanting to get it fixed for free.
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wrote:

Thats my typical response for tight-ass dip-shits like yourself. While you're out buying that motor you might wanna spring for two of them since you seem to be so intent on "cramming it full of oil". Hopefully you got a quart in each oil port. THey need lots of oil to run efficiently. By the way..........my system is running perfectly and efficiently. It's very cool and dehumidified in here with the recent hot and muggy spell. Looks like you might need a bug zapper too. My bug zapper is also working quite well, thank you. Bubba
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Lets see.... How many hours did the motor on your bandsaw operate before failing? Probably less than 100 total. How many hours does the motor in your AC run between failures? Well, since you say you use the AC year round, I would guess (on average) 9 (hours a day) * 365 = 3285 (hours a year) * 9 (years since you got it) = 29565 (running hours) So.... $500 installed / 29565 (hours of nice cool air) = $.016 per hour. Compare this with your bandsaw motor.... ~$1.00 per hour of use. I'm pretty certain that you weren't as miserable while the bandsaw was proken as you are sitting there in the nice Houston, TX heat with no AC.

Lets see... that was about $.01 per hour of NICE COOL AIR based on the above calcs.

And, you think you have a valid insurance policy on that Fixer-Upper house - Oh yeah, never mind... "but that's another story"

Are you sure it's the condenser motor that's bad?

Sure, if it's the correct motor. If you want cheep, why not get a real Amana motor.... 250141875975. It comes from New Orleans, so it's probably water cooled.

Remember, according to "what people tell you", yours is nearly at end-of-life.
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Scott wrote:

    You say above "He also indicated the blower motor was over-amping and was having trouble starting." The blower motor is generally defined as the motor in your air handler that moves the air in your home.
    Toward the end of your post you say "Where can I get a Amana condenser blower motor for my unit so I can replace it myself?" These are two different motors. One moves air through the evaporator coil and the other through the condenser coil. Which one do you need?
    If your "Motor" is turning off, are both fan motors turning off or just one of them? Needing two pounds of freon is not a good omen. Lack of coolant will make the compressor run hot and that could cause it to shut down. You would do well to find fix the leak first. Define your problem further.
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I appreicate the help, but I get the feeling you're looking at things to criticise. I indicated I'm not in this as a profession, so misused the term blower for fan. I'm referring to the fan that draws air across the outside unit condenser, that is the one that is giving trouble. When it overheats & turns off, as the tech explained to me, the system shuts down and eventually (when the thermostat is set to auto) the furnace blower shuts off. He did not find issues that I did not mention.
The sniffer did not find a leak, and since both units were down the same 2lbs he figured the installer either made a mistake or was being cheap by saving r-22 (gee, a HVAC company being cheap?) as it would be a fairly low probability for both to be down nearly the same exact amount.
The problem is, the outside condenser fan motor on the bigger 4 ton unit does not want to run. It makes noise and is slow to get started rotating, it does not "snap" to full speed the way the same brand smaller unit does. The fan does appear to rotate freely when the power is off. Tech stated there is probably something wrong with the windings.
I just want to know if an exact brand replacement fan motor is strongly recommended and what are the pitfalls of using another motor that has the same exact specs, plus if someone knows of a good source on-line for such parts. The Ebay item was one that was an example, not something I was going to use as a replacement by guessing, give me some credit.
Thanks folks, its hot here and while its limping along we need to get this fixed in the next week.
Scott
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dont think he was looking to criticize at all, your talking apples and oranges , cant replace an apple with an orange ;-) which just go's to show what you know, you are very defensive , and getting pissy aint gonna get you squat ,
read what noonie wrote , and then think hard about flipping out anymore crap
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Thanks folks, good to know others have successfully cleaned and lubed the outdoor fan motors. I've done that sort of thing before but had not looked at this motor yet, and being a cheap homeowner (admittedly) I'll try that first along with the cleaning. THANKS for the hint.
I was not trying to be pissy to anyone except Bubba who was being difficult and inflamatory, but I was not looking for "call the tech and have them fix" advice although I expected some of that anyway having looked at the group. I realize my limits on knowledge and was looking for some advice if I was being "taken to the cleaners" on the motor replacement, and if a new motor was available that met the specs, if it would work.
I have seen some real kludge jobs on AC units like in an apartment I rented, so I sympathise on having to deal with half-assed fixes done by shade-trees.
Scott
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there ya go , thats better , now i'll share , 500 clams for a condenser fan motor and cleaning the coils, does seem a bit expensive , there are aftermarket motors available, and it probably does not need to say "amana" on it, but, im not there ,i cant see it , so i wont even venture a guess
call around , get some ideas over the phone, im sure you could find a better deal
the price on my invoice often does not reflect the actual amount of time i spent on your particular job, but more the years i spent gaining the experience and the skills i have , and knowing what to do . thats what your paying for .ok?
good luck

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$500 is a little high for me, but not that far out of the ballbark. To clean a condenser (stripping it down and removing the cabinet), and replacing the blower motor(using the same fan blades), even in rural south Mississippi is around $400. Big cities costs are a lot higher. Did the tech have the correct motor on the truck?? could he have done the repair right then?? Usually when you have a service agreement with a company, you get discounted repair rates.

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Scott wrote:

    I was not trying to criticize, but to define what your situation and problem was. Although there certainly are some who are here to do just that, there are also those who don't mind helping answer questions asked by posters. No one can answer your questions intelligently without knowing exactly what you are describing. Lighten up!
I indicated I'm not in this as a profession, so misused

    Agreed. If however you do have a leak and it is not fixed, you could be a consistent source of income for him.

    If the fan motor for the condenser has the correct voltage applied, a good capacitor where required, and is not binding, it probably is the motor. How old is the motor??

    You can buy a replacement motor at many places including Ebay. You MUST however consider: operating voltage, rotation, HP, amperage, mounting, physical size, case type, RPM and possibly more. Buying a motor that is useless makes what seemed like a bargain end up costing more. Good luck.

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Ok, I disconneded power and took the fan off the top of the condenser, then used simple green & a fertilizer sprayer mounted to a hose to get the soap everywhere on the inside of the coils, and then again on the outside, switched to a knozzle and sprayed ton of dirt off the thing. I felt bad having waited this long, we never cleaned them before. Going to have to turn it off while I mow and trim around it from now on, there was a fair bit of grass debris in it. Will do that annually now that I am aware of it.
Using my chisel and a large rock, slip joint plyers and duct tape (G) I removed the fan from the motor and found a cap that I removed exposing some foam sort of thing that had oil on it and a shaft bearing. There was some black crud (sorry for techical term) around the lower bearing I scraped away, and then I added some heavy oil to the bearing and foam, loaded it up as much as possible and then put the covers back on. The black stuff may be because of overheating. Oh well, the lube job was not too bad if it works. Got it all back assembled and it runs again. Lets see if that's the problem. There did not appear to be any bearing issues with rotation, so the tech might be correct, the windings might be bad.
Did both units while I was at it, there was an old fire-ant mound inside the smaller unit - had to get my shop vac out for that one! quite a bit of dirt, about the size of twelve pack.
I also got the specs for the 4 ton motor - Emerson 1/4 horse job, etc. Can look for replacement if needed, and I think I'll need it.
Scott
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This is the exact specs of the motor, I think I can get a buddy with an account to purchase one if I need it.
http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/items/4MB69
S
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at that price i can see why it was gonna run ya 500.00
just installed one of those yesterday , 148 bucks. Geez!!!!! i didnt pay half that for mine , ;-) plus freight too i guess, how much is the cap gonna run ya ?
some bargain ,
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Scott wrote:

Buy a Fasco D792. It's a ball-bearing motor, too. Don't forget a new start capacitor as well.
http://www.electricmotorwarehouse.com/fasco/Catalog/5-6diameter.pdf
and...
http://www.electricmotorwarehouse.com/fasco/fasco_pricing.htm
or... the same A.O. Smith...
http://www.electricmotorwarehouse.com/aosmith/price_page.htm
They sell to you... and you'll get great service, too. I've used these folks on big commercial motors for a number of years (and yes... I get a discount!).
Jake
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