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Electric Motor Testing has diminished with the ever increasing

frequency of corporate re-engineering. What this means for electric

motor testing maintenance programs is billions of dollars of lost

revenue through increased electrical repair costs, downtime, and

waste in industrial and commercial companies. Modern electrical

maintenance practices often do not take into account the

importance of electric motor testing for proper equipment uptime

and plant competitiveness.

Electric motor testing maintenance and management programs are designed to improve equipment readiness and

uptime while reducing capital overhead. This program consists of particular maintenance and management tools

designed to aid the maintenance engineer in electric motor systems and their care.

The following are some important electric motor testing items:

Electric Motor Testing Recommended Items:


Electric Motor impulse testing is an integral part of predictive maintenance of electrical motors. Through the following

questions the influence that extensive impulse testing has on a motor is investigated. Can impulse testing damage

healthy or deteriorated insulation? Can DC Resistance, Inductance, Megger or HiPot tests diagnose weak turn-to-turn

insulation? After failing an impulse test, are motor with weak insulation able to operate? Are motors with a turn-turn

short capable of continued operation? This was accomplished by putting a low voltage motor through extensive testing

rigors, until inducing a failure. Following the failure, additional testing investigated the possible deteriorating effects on

turn-turn insulation due to impulse testing beyond the motor¶s dielectric breakdown. NOTE: This paper was edited

from the original version of the IEEE paper published in 2003.


Check for fan or pump motor rotation when testing offline with the MCE. Fans may continue to slowly rotate due to

drafting in the Plenum. Pumps that are connected to a common header may continue to rotate if other pumps

connected to the header are operating. This will adversely affect the Standard Test results, possibly creating higher

than normal resistive and inductive imbalances.


Wound rotor motors have a three-phase winding wound on the rotor which is connected to three phases of start-up
resistors in order to provide current and speed control on start-up. Failed components in the resistor bank are common

and often overlooked when troubleshooting. These faults can have a significant impact on the overall operation of the

motor and should be given considerable focus when troubleshooting these motors.



Electric motor insulation exhibits a negative temperature coefficient, meaning as temperature increases, resistance

decreases. This would lead you to believe that insulation resistance of a de-energized motor will decrease after

starting the motor. However, most often the resistance will initially increase after running due to moisture being

evaporated by the increasing temperature of the windings. The governing standard (IEEE43) on insulation resistance

testing requires a temperature correction to 40 degrees Celsius, which could quickly turn acceptable measured

resistance readings into unacceptably low corrected resistance readings. Before sending a motor to be refurbished,

consider space heaters.

The recommended off-line in-service electric motor tests are -

2 Stator winding resistive imbalance

2 Stator winding insulation resistance (Meg-Ohm checks)

2 Polarization Index (PI)

2 Step Voltage test

2 Surge test

The recommended spare electric motor tests are -

2 Stator winding resistive imbalance

2 Stator winding insulation resistance (Meg-Ohm checks)

2 Polarization Index (PI)

2 Step Voltage test

2 Surge test

The recommended new/refurbished electric motor tests are ±

2 Stator winding resistive imbalance

2 Stator winding insulation resistance (Meg-Ohm checks)

2 Polarization Index (PI)

2 Step Voltage test

2 Surge test.

2 ___________________________________________________________________________________________


 . Look for broken mounting holes or feet, darkened paint in the middle of the
motor (indicating heat) and evidence or dirt and other foreign matter having been pulled into the motor windings
through openings in the housing. If the motor has any of these issues, there may be problems that can shorten
the life of the motor due to previous overloading, wrong application or both. 2

Name Plate from a large 50 HP 3 phase motor.

Name Plate from a 1/2 HP motor.

ð      . The nameplate is a metal or other durable tag or label that is riveted or
affixed to the outside of motor housing called the „  . Important information about the motor is on
the label and without it, it will be difficult to determine its suitability to a task. Typical information found on most
motors include (but not limited to):

V Manufacturer's Name - the name of the company the made the motor.
V Model and Serial Number - information that identifies  „ motor.
V RPM - the number of revolutions the rotor makes in one minute.
V Horsepower - how much work it can perform.
V Wiring diagram - how to connect for different voltages or speeds.
V Voltage - voltage and phase requirements.
V Current - amperage requirements.
V Frame Style - physical dimensions and mounting pattern.
V Type - describes if frame is open, drip proof, total enclosed fan cooled, etc.
V And more.

2. 3

 . The bearings allow the shaft or   assembly to turn freely and smoothly
in the frame. A bearing is located at both motor ends sometime called
  „ „ 
 „. There are
several types of bearings used. Two popular types are brass sleeve bearings and steel ball bearings. Many
have fittings for lubrication while others are "permanently lubricated". To perform a cursory check of the
bearings, place the motor on a solid surface and place one hand on the top of the motor, spin the shaft/rotor
with the other hand. Closely watch, feel and listen for any indication of rubbing, scraping or unevenness of the
spinning rotor. The rotor should spin quietly, freely and evenly. Next, push and pull the shaft in and out of the
frame. A small amount of movement in and out (most household fractional horsepower types should be less
than 1/8" or so) is permitted, but the closer to "none" the better. A motor that has bearing related issues when
run will be loud, overheat the bearings and potentially fail catastrophically. 4


  . A motor with a shorted winding will not run and probably
open the fuse or trip the circuit breaker instantly. With an ohm meter set to the `„ „  „ test setting,
place test probes into the appropriate jacks (Common and Ohms - check the meter's operation manual).
Choose the highest scale (R X 1000 or similar) and zero the meter by touching both probes against each other
and adjust the needle to 0 (most digital meters do not offer the ability to zero so skip this if yours is a digital
type). Locate a ground screw (often hex head type and green in color) or any metal part of the frame (scrape
away paint if needed to contact metal) and press one of the test probes to this spot and the other test probe to
each lead, one at a time. Ideally, the meter should barely move off the highest resistance indication. It may
move a fair amount, but the meter „  always indicate a resistance value in the millions of ohms (or
"megohms"). In some cases, values as low as several hundred thousand ohms (500,000 or so), *may* be
acceptable, but a higher number is more desirable. 5


    . Many simple "across the line" single phase and 3 phase
motors (used in household appliances and industry respectively) can be checked simply by changing the range
of the ohm meter to the lowest offered (R X 1) and, after zeroing the meter again, measure the resistance
between the leads of the motor. In this case, consult the wiring diagram of the motor to be sure that the meter
is measuring across each winding. Expect to see a very low value of resistance in ohms. Values in the single
digits are normal and possibly those in the low double digit range might be acceptable under the right
conditions. Values greater than this indicate a problem and values significantly greater than this indicate that
the winding has failed opened. A motor with high resistance will not run - or not run with speed control (as is the
case when a 3 phase motor winding opens while running). 6

 . There are other parts of a motor that should be inspected before
powering up - especially if the history of the motor is unknown. Some things to do:

V Check the start or run capacitor used for starting or running some motors, if equipped. Checking a
capacitor can be done with the ohm meter. Placing the test probes on the capacitor terminals, the
resistance should start low, and gradually increase as the small voltage supplied by the meter's battery
gradually charges the capacitor. If it stays shorted or does not rise, there is probably an issue with the
capacitor and may need to be replaced. The capacitor will have to be allowed 10 or more minutes to
discharge before attempting this test again.
V Check out the rear bell housing of the motor. Some motors have centrifugal switches used to switch
the start / run capacitor or other windings in and out of the circuit at a specific RPM. Check that the
switch contacts are not "welded" closed or are contaminated with dirt and grease preventing a good
connection. See if the switch mechanism can move freely.
V Check out the fan. A "TEFC" type motor is a "totally enclosed, fan cooled" type. The fan blades are
behind metal guard on the back of the motor. Make sure it is securely fastened to the shaft and not
clogged with dirt and other debris. The openings in the rear metal guard need to have full and free air
movement, otherwise the motor will overheat, and eventually fail.
3. 7

A rather large TEFC motor. The fins on the outside give it away easily.The fan is behind the thinner metal end cover on
the left of the motor. Attached to the front center of the motor is the wiring compartment box called a "peckerhead" Click any
photo for a larger, more detailed view.

A small open motor. The ventilation slots on the stator or frame make it easy to tell. The winding lead numbers can be
seen printed on the insulation. The wiring compartment of this motor is inside the back end of this motor, and as such does
not have a peckerhead. Most all 3 phase motor leads are numbered T1, T2, T3 through T9, but can go higher.

  . Drip proof motors can be installed in damp or wet
locations, so long as they are installed in such a way that water (and other liquids) can not enter due to gravity
or not subjected to a stream of water (or other liquids) directed at or in it. Open motors are, as the name implies
- completely open. The ends of the motor have rather large openings and the windings in the stator are visible.
These motors should not be installed in wet, dirty or dusty areas. TEFC motors on the other hand, can be used
in all of the previously mentioned areas but must not be submerged unless designed specifically for the