Routine Maintanance Advice Tips

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Can I use a manual motor starter as a disconnect switch for maintenance purposes?

Manual Motor Starters and OSHA Compliance

Manual motor starters can be installed in group motor applications to protect them from overloads, short circuits and other problems. Manual motor starters are used for a variety of devices including machine tools, pumps, and compressors. If you are considering installing a manual motor starter, it is important to know that there are safety regulations that affect your operation. Did you know using manual motor starters as a disconnect switch for electrical maintenance is not allowed under guidelines published by OSHA?

When doing electrical maintenance on a device using a manual motor starter as a disconnect switch,
there is a possibility of controller failure. Manual motor controllers and motor starter circuits are required to have an approved disconnect system that controls all conductors on the power supply . According to OSHA, simply switching the motor starter switch to OFF is not an acceptable method
for shutting down a system--it does not guarantee that a machine is
turned off and without current prior to repair work.

How can I tell if my motor starter is bad?

How Can I Tell If My Motor Starter Is Bad?

When doing vehicle maintenance, it's important to know the difference between a defective motor starter and a breakdown else where in the electrical system. You may need electrical maintenance elsewhere if the motor starter is shown to be working properly. You could have a problem with the ignition switch circuit, the push button, the wiring or the solenoid.

Ruling out these systems one by one can reveal the problem. You need a volt meter to test for most of the problems that might rule out the motor starter. One of the most basic indicators of a problem is low voltage or no voltage to a critical area. Are you getting voltage to the solenoid when trying to start the engine? Does current flow to the solenoid but not to the main contacts? There are many things to explore in this area. Don't assume your problem lies with the motor starter--there may be a related issue which prevents the motor starter from doing its job. If you don't know how to use a volt meter, take your vehicle to a professional for evaluation.

Why does my motor starter turn over slowly?

Why Does My Motor Starter Turn Over Slowly?

If you try to start your vehicle but the motor starter turns over slowly, there are a variety of potential causes. The slow turning doesn't automatically indicate the need to replace your motor starter, but you might require some vehicle maintenance. Fortunately some of it you can do yourself if you know how to use the right tools.

One common cause of a slow turning motor starter is a loose connection to the battery. The loose connection prevents a steady flow of current, needed to get the motor running. Check and tighten the connections and try again. Are you still having trouble? The connections could be corroded or dirty, or you may need to replace the battery cable with a larger type. Sometimes the problem can be caused by a defective or failing starter motor, in which case you will need to have it replaced. One problem not caused directly by the condition of the motor starter is engine timing. If the engine timing is not set properly this may be the culprit. Have this option checked after you have exhausted the simpler possibilities.

Why does my motor starter click but not turn on?

Why Does My Motor Starter Click But Not Start?

If you have been using a particular motor starter for some time and you suddenly get no results when trying to turn it on, there are several reasons why it may not be working properly. An AC motor starter or its DC equivalent relies on several parts in order to work properly. The motor starter assembly includes a start button or switch, battery, solenoid, and the motor itself.

If you engage the start switch and the starter motor clicks but does not fire up the motor, turn the switch off and inspect the battery terminals. Do you see rust, corrosion or excessive wear? The contacts between the battery and the terminal may be too dirty or corroded to conduct electricity properly. If you have a low or weak battery, you will get the same results even if the terminals are clean. If the battery is in working order, you may have a defective solenoid which needs replacing. Check all these parts of your motor starter system to locate the cause of your problem.

Why is my motor starter noisy?

Why is My Motor Starter Noisy?

If you notice strange noises when you activate your motor starter, it may not be the result of poor electrical maintenance or a defective motor starter. Ordinary wear and tear on a stater motor can, over time, cause the drive gear to erode. The same is true for any component with moving parts, so it is important to check the age of your motor starter if you begin noticing symptoms such as odd noises or vibrations upon start up. If your starter motor isn't old enough to experience such routine wear, inspect the mounting system of your starter motor. Chances are the mounts need to be re-tightened. The vibrations or noises you hear could simply be the result of the motor rattling around on the mounts. Tighten the mounts and try again. If you have no more trouble with vibration or noise, the problem is solved. If you still experience the issue, consult with a pro to get some advice on repair or replacement.

What information do I need to purchase a replacement motor starter?

What Information Do I Need to Buy A Replacement Motor Starter?

If you need to have electrical maintenance done that requires a replacement motor starter, there are a few technical details you'll need to know to order the proper replacement. Even if you plan on buying an identical make and model, be sure you have this information ready when placing your order. You should know the horsepower of the motor, the motor's primary voltage and whether it has a fused or non-fused power circuit. When ordering an identical replacement part you may not need to answer all these questions, but it is good to have the information handy, especially if you talk to a sales representative who needs to look up the specs for your particular motor starter. You can find most of this information in the owner's documentation or printed on the side of the motor starter.

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Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.