Friday, August 21, 2015

From the "It Doesn't Rain But What It Pours Department."

Well, the house air conditioner has now huffed it. Fearing that the new dog, whose chewing instinct is prodigious (he previously chewed a couple of boards off the back of the house), had gnawed through the wiring, I went out into the jungle that is my backyard to examine the unit. Nope. Fortunately the rawhide chews we bought seem to have preserved the A/C. But after checking the breakers and fuses, it is obvious that the unit has power, it just won't start up, emitting a click and a low electric whine like the fan is trying to start but is obstructed. However, an inspection of the fan blade/motor revealed no such simple obstruction. Any ideas? Can't call a service guy. They have a distressing habit of wanting a not-inconsiderable amount of money to do their black magic.
Well, have two doctor's appointments this morning, so I'll try to have more later.

61 comments:

Anonymous said...

you probably already received this, try replacing the start capacitor that is probably mounted inside the outdoor portion of your unit.

Take a couple of pics before pulling the wires from it. remove the capacitor and go to your local AC parts store. Be sure and take all the info about your system, Make, Model, S/N.

The new capacitor will probably be a different shape, but the pinout should be transferable to your unit.

Anonymous said...

Mike, your compressor wont stare because the capacitor has failed. when they replace that, be sure they clean the coils also. Clogged coils = higher head pressure(more stress on all the components) God bless you and yours.

Phelps said...

It's either the starter relay or compressor capacitor. Sounds like the cap.

http://www.achrnews.com/articles/90387-troubleshooting-the-potential-starting-relay

https://thehvacguy.wordpress.com/2012/12/11/common-air-conditioner-capacitor-failure-symptoms/

Pat H. said...

Sounds like a bad start capacitor, but could be the compressor is finished too. Figure between $300-700 depending.

Dr.D said...

try getting the fan motor to turn,if it wont, it may be seized up with worn out or un lubricated bearings. some can be lubricated, replacement is also an option. try to se if the heat exchanger is getting warm. if the compressor is seized then that's a problem for a properly equipped expert.

Dr.D

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the capacitor. Easy fix for $30 to $50 at Lowe's.

Anonymous said...

Our's would make a similar sound like it was trying to start up but didn't. Turns out we had a mouse obstruct our fan, got it's little head caught and crushed and it ended up burning up the motor. Expensive mouse trap. Sometimes calling a repairmen is the cheaper option though.
Also try googling your AC symptoms online, it may help give you some leads.

Unknown said...

First thing to check is the compressor starting capacitor. It is sometimes a dual cap that also starts the fan motor.

This is most likely cause. Can be repaired fairly easily by yourself. BE SURE to TURN OFF breaker to outside unit before attempting repair.

Good Luck amigo!

Anonymous said...

Maybe the run capacitor on the outside unit? Should be a cylinder about 2" dia. Maybe oval. May be ruptured with liquid coming out or visibly distorted. Hot weather tends to be hard on them. You will have to pull the electrical access panel to check it on the unit. Kill the power first!! Local electrical houses should have replacements. Maybe Wittichen?

Anonymous said...

One of two things and the most likely is that the capacitor on your motor is kaput. Less likely but possible that the motor bearings are shot. But the capacitor is the cheap 'n easy fix. Don't forget to pull the disconnect before you work on it and be careful - even if its **** up the cap can hold a charge and you don't want to get shocked.

Watch the video that you can find at youtube by searching "AC fan not working - how to repair broken HVAC Run Start Capacitor - air condition" and you'll see how its done.

Good luck and all the best,
GOM

Ramsey A. Bear said...

Starter capacitor may have gone bad.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

That is the motor capacitor. Mine has gone out afetr a heavy rain before. They cost about 20$ and take 15 mins to replace. To get the fan going temporarily sometimes it works to take a stick and give the fan a shove.

Meister said...

Sounds like the capacitor is shot. Not much help here, but youtube may have the install info for you.

Anonymous said...

You really need a multimeter to check it out but...
If you hear a small buzzing sound but neither the compressor or fan start or make noise, then you have no power to the a/c unit. If you hear nothing, check the furnace. Is the fan blowing? If not make sure there is power to the furnace and the furnace door is properly shut. There is usually a switch behind the door that acts as a safety device to make sure the door is closed. If you hear the compressor running but no fan then it is probably a bad fan. If the fan runs but no compressor then bad compressor. You may luck out and have just a bad capacitor on either the fan or the compressor. But it really sounds like either a control problem (thermostat, wiring, contactor) or no power to the outside unit. A lot of units also have a small red button that will reset the high pressure switch. Look for it either inside the unit near the compressor or near the copper lines. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Mike,
That sounds like you need to have your starting capacitor replaced.

Rick

V2 said...

Sounds like bad capaciter, its what starts motor. Study up on change proceedure before attemting to change your self, high voltage.

Anonymous said...

Probably the capacitor, which is a round metal cylinder in the service access panel that starts the compressor and the fan motor. Its a 10.00 part but the average service repair is around 175.00. Thats what you pay for the techs trip, expertise, and having the part on the truck, as well as all the licenses, taxes, fees insurance and other cost of business in this society of govt overlords. Buy a capacitor and diy or pay the tech.

Thomas said...

There is on thing you can check and probably replace on your own, if you are semi competent, go to the breaker on the wall outside by the AC.

Disconnect the breaker.

Open the access panel on the compressor.

There is a capacitor that can fail, it looks like one of those 8oz soda cans about 3" tall and 1-1/4 around with three wires out of the top.

If the top looks like it has puffed out the capacitor has failed, look up the specs on the capacitor it replaces easy by three quick connected wires.

Good luck.

Historian said...

First , check the thermostat to be sure that the batteries in the stat are good.
Check the control fuse.

Then check the starter motor capacitor. That is a common failure.

Oakenheart said...

Start capacitor would be my guess. It's usually a cheap part.
This video shows replacement of a combo cap - 2 capacitors in one body, one starts compressor, the other fan. Some units use separate caps, the smaller one is usually the fan start.
https://youtu.be/14xhAxPfxIo

If you have a meter that has a capacitor check setting you can test them out of circuit, the rated value is on the side of the cap. If the capacitance is less than rated it's bad.

Sean said...

Reset your thermostat, then if that doesn't work, you may need a new fan. I can contribute some money, but not a lot.

Historian said...

First , check the thermostat to be sure that the batteries in the stat are good.
Check the control fuse.

Then check the starter motor capacitor. That is a common failure.

Anonymous said...

It is unlikely that fan motor and compressor failed at same time. Sounds like fan motor went out, and compressor kicked out on high pressure switch, which is designed to do just that. If I was closer, I'd check it for you.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes these types of motors have a capacitor start. I have had a washing machine where the capacitor failed and the agitator motor wouldn't start. These capacitors are on top of the motor.

CPB

Anonymous said...

We had a similar problem. Service call was $80, not bad, it was a bad breaker. Fixed total cost $106. At least they can tell you whats wrong.

Anonymous said...

Ideas? Sure. They are all expensive though. Compressor is out. ($$$$) Compressor relay is out ($$). Here's an upside. The fact that it "buzzes" and neither the compressor or fan comes on says "relay", since they are tied together. ($$). Could be a start capacitor. ($$). Could also be low on coolant. ($) How old it is has a huge effect on which problem to suspect.

brontobike@gmail.com said...

I'd try replacing the capacitor first. They are usually pretty cheap

Griffin3 said...

Capacitor is burned out. Diagnostic is to use a straw or other light stick to push the fan blades while the unit is on ... if it starts with a little push, it just needs a new capacitor (it still will not work, because you cannot start the compressor with a push). $80-$120 to have an A/C guy change out the capacitor. $20 to do it yourself, but you need to watch one done first (and still have to order the capacitor off amazon).

Running the A/C without it spinning will cause the motor to burn out, and that may have already happened. Which might mean new motor (or much more expensive) and is past my capacity to fix.

Arkindole said...

Run capacitor; probably 5 mfd in combo with a 50 mfd for the compressor. Look at that can looking thing near the contactor. If it is rounded, rather then flat, that's it. They'll soak the crap out of you for a 10 dollar part. If you have a graingers near, they have em. If you don't know what yer doin, have someone play with the 220.

Unknown said...

If it hums and won't start its either the capacitor is bad or the winding's in the motor are shot. If it's a window unit more often than not its cheaper to replace it than mess with it. You could buy a capacitor and give it a shot. Most motor shops or industrial suppliers like grainier carry them.
I would make sure the compressor starts before going any further. Sadly replacing the fan motor will usually cost as much as replacing it. Window units cheap now. Shop around.
If I was near I would give you a hand except I am in Maine and right now my AC is running. Still hot up here. Good luck, enjoy reading your posts.

Anonymous said...

Probably a bad capacitor. They do "wear" out. Open that baby up and look for a small silver can (could be round or oblong) or possibly a "hard start" capacitor that looks (to my layman's eye) something like a florescent light fixture ballast. Search on the internet for how to bench test and replace whichever appears to be the offending member. If you have a Grainger store in your area, take the old one to them. They're usually a good deal more knowledgeable than the big box hardware folks and their prices on such items are comparable. May God bless and guide you, even in small things.

BTW, for the dog, instead of rawhide, might try hooves. They're harder, last longer and don't mess up their digestion as much. We've had bull terriers and corgis, two of the chewingest dog breeds on the planet. Hooves worked great for them. A big femur is also good, if the dog's not prone to shatter/shred bones. Our last bull terrier used to just eat bones, though. She would poop white.

Jeff said...

My first guess would be the capacitor/starter on the compressor unit. If it's burned looking or swelled up on the ends, it's probably bad. But you're probably gonna need an AC guy.

Anonymous said...

It's most likely the capacitor has gone bad. It's happened to me before, as well as members of my family. Get someone experienced with electrical equipment, as a capacitor could fry you if mis-handled.

Anonymous said...

Could be a capacitor (like the start one)....but sounds like the compressor overall may be bad. Are any of the capacitor's bulged? If so, that's your culprit and it's a cheap fix.

Anonymous said...

Here's a pretty good page on the subject:

http://www.brighthubengineering.com/consumer-appliances-electronics/121947-troubleshooting-a-noisy-air-conditioner-compressor/

If you search on the internet for your particular make/model with "won't start", you'll probably come up with some decent specifics.

Anonymous said...

Pull the cover off the A/C and look for the capacitor. (these are larger versions of the old condensers that were used in automobile ignition systems. Good chance it has failed. Look for oil on the outside of the capacitor, for instance. If it is leaking anything, it's no good)

See here for an example of what I'm referring to:

http://www.amazon.com/GE-Capacitor-97F9895-Z97F995-97F9895BZ3/dp/B00BY9IUGC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1440169354&sr=8-2&keywords=a%2Fc+capacitor

The units run about 20 to 30 bucks.

There should be a part number on the condenser you can use to find the replacement.

Good luck.

-Blake

theirritablearchitect said...

Motor startup capacitor.

Anonymous said...

Capacitor.......retard.

Anonymous said...

try the capacitor.
theyre usually less than 10 bucks or so.
its the silver thingy with some wires clipped to it.
get the numbers off the existig one and replace with same.
it might not work, but it might, for aound 10 bucks.
if that doesnt do it its probably time for a new motor.
oh and turn off the power before touching it. AND BE CAREFUL, THE CAPACITOR MIGHT CARRY A CHARGE FOR A WHILE EVEN IF THE UNIT IS TURNED OFF. JUST DONT TOUCH THOS LEADS AND YOU SHOULD BE OKAY...

Unknown said...

Besides the fan, there is also a compressor. It likely needs to start before the fan is needed.

Anonymous said...

If you're lucky, you just need a new "start capacitor".

If you're not lucky, you need a new compressor.

Anonymous said...

I had a recent seemingly similar issue with our heat pump... tech replaced a capacitor which had failed. Total bill for part and service was circa $350, but I found similar parts online for $30-ish dollars after the fact.

Anonymous said...

Turn the A/C back on (if you have shut it off) and very, very carefully slide a WOOD pencil thru the guard of the fan and see if you can get the fan to spin and run. You need to carefully flick the fan with the pencil and pull the pencil up as you do, so the fan won't chew it up and throw pencil shards in your face, safety glassex might be a good idea too. If the fan will start, you have a blown "motor start" capacitor on the A/C unit. Part is about $15 and you should be able to find a youtube video to walk you thru replacement. MAKE SURE YOU DISCONNECT THE POWER, BEFORE SERVICING! Most start capacitors are a dual unit, half for the fan, half for the compressor. It is possible the fan runs and the compressor doesn't. If so, you can try to change the capacitor before you call for a service call to diagnose the compressor. Needless to say the compressor will be much more expensive, will require evacuation of the freon, etc., etc.

Kcrailroader.

Earl Flanigan said...

This is -probably- what happened, but your actual mileage may vary.

The cooling fan or contactor for the cooling fan at the compressor unit has likely gone out - may have been hours or days before, but with the failure of the fan, the compressor overheated and either purged all the freon in the system and/or seized up.

Now - a ray of sunshine. Yes,it really is as it is MUCH cheaper than replacing a compressor. You may have a freon leak somewhere, and this will prevent some units from coming on until there is sufficient pressure in the system.

Anonymous said...

See if a local electrical magician can check the capacitors. Sometimes they fail and all else is fine but without them the fan motor cannot start. DFW TX Is just too far or I'd try to check it for you.

LRBM

DJMooreTX said...

Possibly the compressor motor start capacitor. These things run about $50-$100, depending on type and dealer. (I have a couple of A/C supply houses nearby that will sell to the public. )

It'll be a metal can about the size of a small can of tomato paste, with several wires connected to it with spade lugs.

You can test them with a multimeter, but my parts guy showed me an alternative: Drop the cap on a hard counter top. When they go bad, caps expand and bulge a little, making the top a bit springy. So a bad cap will bounce, maybe even not stand up straight.

(I have also had a motor not start because the spade lug connector on one of the motor leads had burned out on the compressor case. The male lug was fine, but the female connector was gone. Be sure you use the correctly sized connector, for #8-#10 wire, not the usual you find, for #12 to #14.)

Absolutely kill the breaker before working on these.

Anonymous said...

Check the motor starter. Typical failure mode. Easy to do yourself.

Dlg1956 said...

Can you check power to your contactor? Do yo have 220 volts?

BigCountryExpat said...

Sounds like a capacitor took a dump. If your inside blower unit (I'm assuming you have that in the garage like we do in FL.) is running but not blowing cold, and the external unit isn't firing off, then its the Cap. $35-40 at the AC supply store if you have one in the area. The cap stores up the 220 to fire off the cooling motor. A great website is inspectapedia dot com slash aircond/Air_Conditioning.php.

When my AC went out, a repair dude told me it'd be $100 to just check it and troubleshoot it, but he was pretty sure already what the issue was, so he'd cut me a "deal" for $300 cash to fix it... I demurred, and went to that website... saved myself $275 and I now keep my old clunker running on my own... since then I realized that AC Repair is such a ROYAL screwing. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Maybe a bad capacitor ?

Anonymous said...

Check for (dead) fire ants between the contacts of the microswitch that sends power to the capacitor. They are attracted by the frequency.

Anonymous said...

Ya know, I am so happy to see so many chime in on this subject trying to help Mike out, but I gotta say...
How about that level of discussion and comment on some of Mike's quality material of substance regarding the failure of our Nation? How about diagnosis and repair comments regarding our broken country?

Phelps said...

If fixing the nation was as easy as popping one cap we would have already done it.

Anonymous said...

Possibility not mentioned yet:

I had a similar sounding failure that I watched the tech troubleshoot. Where the flex line from the compressor/fan/evaporator unit attached to the house was a junction box with a disconnect plug. Some just have copper straps that come off with the plug when you pull it out of the box. Mine had two bus fuses instead of copper straps. One fuse was blown so the unit was only getting one of the required two phases. He replaced the bus fuse with a standard one and it blew again the next day. I noticed the other fuse was a slow blow type and replaced it myself with a slow blow. The slow blow held until I sold the house years later.

Don't feel picked on. A couple of weeks ago lightening hit a palm tree in my back yard near the property line. Like the 800 pound gorilla in the joke, lightening pretty much goes where ever it wants. This one wanted to go into my house's cat-5 ethernet network. We're still totaling up the damage. So far it comes to both uverse boxes, two ethernet switches, two desktop computers, one KVM switch, a Pioneer Elite A/V receiver, a 60" Pioneer Elite plasma TV, a DVD player, and the salt to chlorine system on my pool.

"Stuff" happens, Dutchman6!

P.S. My dog does just fine with the big rawhide "bone" chews that you can get from Petsmart and so forth. My son's Black and Tan swallows them as soon as he works them down almost small enough. I say almost because my son has had to remove more than one from the gagging dog's throat. Apparently it depends on how much sense the dog has and whether or not they can learn from their mistakes. Some do and some don't. That's why you're the master and the dog isn't. YMMV.

hutch1200 said...

Mine got hit by LIGHTNING ;) May want to contact your home-owners insurance company!

Anonymous said...

Well, everybody's chimed in with what I would have suggested, except that I don't see any instructions on HOW to check the start capacitor(s). maybe one of the links relates that, but you should be able to find that info online as well. Too long to relate here, but you'll need a VOM - and make sure to DISCHARGE the capacitor by shorting it out with a piece of 12 ga wire BEFORE putting the VOM leads on the terminals. Otherwise you'll certainly blow the meter. If you're uncomfortable with using a VOM, then ask a friend who's into electronics to show you how. If it's the fan, I've also resurrected many of them by simply re-lubing the bearings (they're usually cheap oil-lite bearings that dry out after 10+ years). Relays are easy to check, as well.

As to anonymous' comment @1:18PM, I think we all know the required 'fix', but most aren't willing to say it. There is NO hope for recovering America from the current crop of the insane denizens of DC. They must ALL go, including ALL of their support system except for the innocents (basically anybody who hasn't been through the brain laundries we call 'school' yet). And at this point the only way to do so is by sheer force. I prefer the instant, one-shot solution, but if you want a long, drug-out civil war, fine. It'll be FAR more costly in lives and national resources compared to my preference.

They will intentionally kill off many times more innocents than we could ever possibly do so by accident if they get their war on their terms. That pesky 'moral high ground' will be the death of us all . . .

-MM

Anonymous said...

Bad capacitor. You will most likely find it swollen at the top. They are usually mounted outside the fan area, under a panel above where the pipes go in. Less than $15 here at the local furnace/AC parts shop in Ohio.

DevilDog

FedUp said...

1. you need 230v AC to the unit. (disconnect, circuit breaker, power supply cable, etc all have to transmit current)

2. you need 24v AC to the contactor from the thermostat to turn the unit on.

3. You need 230v to get to the fan and compressor motors (contactor, which is just a solenoid switch inside the unit)

4. you need a good dual capacitor to start the motors.

5. you need a good fan motor or the unit will just overheat.

And that pretty much concludes the D-I-Y portion of the troubleshooting, as you are not replacing the compressor yourself.

Mel said...

Emitting a click and low whine. The click is the contractor closing. Check the contacts for arcing or burnt points. If they're not too bad you can them with fine sandpaper or emery cloth for a temporary fix. Good luck.

Anonymous said...

ants in the relay

James said...

Check the capacitor in the compressor. That was my problem about a month ago.