How to Clean AC Motors

As carbon builds up on an AC motor, the motor will begin to drag or give off a burning smell when it's running.

Sooner or later, you have no choice but to roll up your sleeves and clean away the gooey deposits slowing down your AC motor's performance. Cleaning an AC motor is a simple process that only takes a few minutes. Before you can clean an AC motor, however, you have to remove it, which requires a little more patience as well as the right tools.

Loosen the bolts or screws of the appliance your motor's in. Disconnect any wires or screws that attach the AC motor and completely remove it. Carefully observe how the pieces you're dismantling were connected so you can reverse the process when reassembling. Wipe the AC motor's outer casing with a cloth moistened with a motor cleaning fluid.

Remove the motor pulley. On some AC motors you will you have to remove the screws of bell caps on either side of the frame the motor's in. Remove each bell cap by wedging a screwdriver under the lid of each cap and lightly tapping it apart from the frame with a hammer. On other motors, you will have to unscrew bolts and unlock the casting of the motor.

Undo carefully the wires connecting the motor armature or rotor and slide it out. Unscrew the carbon brushes. Use sandpaper to clean the metal cylinder at the base of the armature. Soak the brushes, bolts and screws in a saucer of motor cleaning fluid. Let them dry.

Add a drop of oil to both ends of the armature shaft. Reconnect wires and brushes. Put the rotor back into place. Secure the bell caps or casting. Remount the motor to the appliance and enclose.

Things You Will Need

  • Motor cleaning fluid
  • Motor oil
  • Wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Saucer
  • 400-grit sandpaper


  • Don't spill cleaning fluid on wires or you'll damage them.

About the Author

Jen Jefferson has been a writer and researcher since 2001. Her work has appeared in "Business Insights" and other publications. Jefferson has a Bachelor of Arts in English from The New School and a certificate in French from the International Language School in Montreal.